Edgar's issues

SaraB

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#1
I'm going to try and keep this thread going as a journal for my progress with Edgar's environmental and sound sensitivities. I would like to have something that I can look back on when we hit rough spots, so I can see how far he's really gone.

Edgar is an 8 month old boston terrier/cairn terrier mix that I adopted from the local animal shelter. Not much is known about his history, but he did have to have two separate cherry eye surgeries, so he spent a lot of time in a cone when I first adopted him which limited my exposure opportunities (pretty sure I'm just using this as an excuse for my lazy butt).

He has toy drive and food drive and is an absolute joy to train. However, he has severe environmental sensitivities that I wasn't aware of when I adopted him. He shuts down in new buildings, panics and tries to run towards the exit. He refuses food and won't play. On the best sessions he will sit in my lap and won't leave. I started bringing him to the event center at work during quiet days to desensitize him, however, wasn't making much progress. One session, I brought Zuma along and saw a remarkable change. Edgar opened up a little, was taking treats and was even able to do simple behaviors like hand touches.

Today was the start of me actually working on this issue. I had been putting it off because part of me was scared that it was going to turn out to be an permanent issue and I adopted him with intentions of doing traveling shows with him at schools and other public venues. A severe environmental sensitivity pretty much makes that not an option. I finally manned up though and I have a game plan. If he ends up not being ok to work in new places, fine. He always has a home with me, and I'm sure I can get him comfortable enough to do shows at my work at the very least.

On today's adventure, my coworker, her dog, Edgar and I went to PetSmart and Petco. I was armed with string cheese and Dog Nation beef treats. PetSmart was really difficult for Edgar. He was shut down for 80% of the trip, however he was willing to take treats most of the time. I was able to get a few hand touches in a quiet aisle. He did attempt to bolt for the door on numerous occasions, but would come back after a momentary pause. There was huge improvements at Petco. He walked in with a high tail, was able to take treats and offered focus right of the bat. I was able to get several more complex behaviors in the first aisle. The only issue we had the entire trip was when an employee banged on the side of a display, Edgar startled at the noise and refused treats. We walked to another aisle and he was comfortable again, able to perform a few hand touches.

My plan is to do a few more trips with stable dogs as security blankets, increasing our time away from them slowly. I am shooting for one or two trips a week.

Thanks for reading this if you did! Emotional support is appreciated!
 

Sekah

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I didn't realize he was so sensitive. Good luck!!! Working with sensitive dogs takes a certain finesse and dedication that does not come easily to me.
 

SaraB

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Edgar had two days worth of adventures this week so far. Yesterday we went to Petco and a farm supply store and today we went around the farm looking for things to perch on. He's gaining confidence a ton, and I'm really hopeful that he will overcome this issue completely.

At Petco, our first stop yesterday, he had a little bit of a hard time. At the beginning, he wouldn't take treats near the door as he was pulling to go back outside. Once we went into a quiet aisle, he was able to take treats but wouldn't offer any behaviors and was unable to hold focus for more than a second or two. As the visit went on, he was more comfortable, able to preform easy behaviors but still wasn't 100%. At the end, he was pulling towards the door but easily came back for rewards. The second store was MUCH better. His tail never dropped even during loud scary noises. He was able to do complicated behaviors right away and was focused nearly the entire time, it was difficult to get him away from me! He even fetched and tugged on a new toy. The only hiccup was when we were checking out and he had to stand by a soda fridge for a minute, however, he recovered nicely. He didn't panic pull towards the door at all on the way out. HUGE improvements!!

Today we went on a walk around the farm with some coworkers and their dogs to practice perching on different objects. Edgar is normally great walking around the farm as long as we are outside so I wanted to use the perch work as another way to build his confidence. At the beginning, he was hesitant to jump even onto picnic tables, but by the end he was much more willing to jump onto anything I asked. We stopped at one of the buildings in which he's struggled with in the past. He was very confident the entire time and was able to do most of his tricks for a bunch of the employees. I didn't see his confidence waiver once.

Very happy with his progress! It seems that the first stop each day is the most difficult for him, and by the second he's a completely different dog. Hopefully that confidence starts to carry on!
 

DJEtzel

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Definitely following your journey with him. I remember you mentioning his sensitivities a few times on facebook, but I didn't know they were so bad. Good luck with him, it sounds like having another dog around is helping a lot, and I'm actually going to try that out with Recon, I think. You know he is very sound sensitive, and I usually don't take out two dogs at a time, but I may start taking Patton with us when I work him around PA systems... Football games and such and see how he handles that. Patton is very stable and it seems like such a good idea to have a dog for him to look to/learn from easier than he is me.
 

SaraB

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Definitely following your journey with him. I remember you mentioning his sensitivities a few times on facebook, but I didn't know they were so bad. Good luck with him, it sounds like having another dog around is helping a lot, and I'm actually going to try that out with Recon, I think. You know he is very sound sensitive, and I usually don't take out two dogs at a time, but I may start taking Patton with us when I work him around PA systems... Football games and such and see how he handles that. Patton is very stable and it seems like such a good idea to have a dog for him to look to/learn from easier than he is me.
It has really helped a ton. If Edgar gets worried, I can just start working with the other dog which takes pressure off of Edgar and creates a little competition for treats. We are starting to wean off of having another dog there, but it's still definitely needed at first right now.
 

SaraB

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Edgar had a bit of a rough day yesterday and a little today. I took him up to the Event Center, which is a huge building for different dog events. This has been his biggest challenge since the beginning, he's absolutely terrified of being inside. The floor, the noise and how busy it is. He was able to take treats, but was definitely over threshold the whole time even with a dog friend. However, we went on another perching adventure right after and he recovered really well and didn't let that experience hinder him at all. He's no longer hesitant to jump on new objects which is a huge improvement even from last week.

Today, we didn't go into any new places, but something happened which I haven't seen before. A lady approached his kennel and he barked and ran out the door. I was a little concerned as he wouldn't come back inside when I called him, just hung around the door looking worried. So I took him out and did some really easy tricks, he was fine until the lady tried to approach again. He panicked and tried to hide. In not really sure what happened or what caused him to have such an adverse reaction to her, but I have never seen him like that because of a person before. He's always friendly to people that approach him, especially at work. Sometimes I just wish dogs could talk.
 
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I have to say, I am in love with Edgar. From the second I saw him on FB.

I have a dog similar to Edgar. Believe it or not our PWD. She was born like that. She is an over thinker. Because once she gets done being scared, she is DONE and will never look back or revert. We have owned her since she was 9 weeks old and she has always been like this. She is getting better and better the older she gets. She leaps into the vehicle to go places. Then you have to drag her sometimes or she walks all crunched down, tail down, not even looking up or putting her head up. She has no reason at all for her behavior. The part that bugs me is she wants to go everywhere we go. Then acts like we are dragging her to a guillotine. I actually would love to show her. She will pretty much stand for an exam, but does not look happy going around a ring.

Anyway, good luck. I know you will be able to get inside his head. Just take it a piece at a time. Break it down completely for him and always let him win at the game of public places.
 

SaraB

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Edgar was awesome today!!

I was up at the event center (the lair of all that is evil according to Edgar). I didn't have super awesome treats so I went about it a little differently, I carried him in, put him down and just rewarded like crazy. He had no problem and was actually super jazzed up watching the other dogs work. He went right into all his tricks for nothing-special treats. I repeated this during Mighty's flyball practice in the other big room at the event center later in the night and again, no problems! The floor is slippery and shiny in that room and there were a lot of loud noises but still no problems! He even tugged a bit and played fetch. He was uncomfortable going more than ten feet from me to even get a treat, but it was still a huge improvement! The other cool thing was that 2/3 of the sessions were without any other dogs around. :D

I do think there was one huge difference. He was wearing his sweater and had his brilliantk9 harness over that, which I think acted like a thundershirt, applying a little calming pressure. It was such a huge difference from all of his previous experiences at the event center that I really do think that the pressure helped. Good to know and something I can do to help him even more!
 

PWCorgi

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#13
Edgar was awesome today!!

I was up at the event center (the lair of all that is evil according to Edgar). I didn't have super awesome treats so I went about it a little differently, I carried him in, put him down and just rewarded like crazy. He had no problem and was actually super jazzed up watching the other dogs work. He went right into all his tricks for nothing-special treats. I repeated this during Mighty's flyball practice in the other big room at the event center later in the night and again, no problems! The floor is slippery and shiny in that room and there were a lot of loud noises but still no problems! He even tugged a bit and played fetch. He was uncomfortable going more than ten feet from me to even get a treat, but it was still a huge improvement! The other cool thing was that 2/3 of the sessions were without any other dogs around. :D

I do think there was one huge difference. He was wearing his sweater and had his brilliantk9 harness over that, which I think acted like a thundershirt, applying a little calming pressure. It was such a huge difference from all of his previous experiences at the event center that I really do think that the pressure helped. Good to know and something I can do to help him even more!
Yay!!! Go Edgar Go! :D
 
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You know, I like the thundershirts. I do not think it works for every dog. But it surly did for Rodeo. He does not even need it anymore.
 

SaraB

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Edgar rocked today!!!

He was comfortable enough at the event center (his absolute least favorite place ever) to run agility!!! This was huge because not only did he have no problem running all the equipment he knows, but he even tugged for the reward! At one point he even waltzed right up the dog walk while I was setting jumps, he's never seen the dog walk before. They were even people setting up stuff, so lots of loud bangs.

As with anything, there's always room for improvement. I didn't feel that he was as into the toy reward as he normally is, was much more into it on the sidelines than out on the turf. He did disconnect a few times, but had would always reconnect. My little man is on his way though!!
 

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