Saturday, May 30, 2009

First Private for Reactivity

On Friday morning, Mia and I had our first private with her trainer to work on her reactivity. She is very reactive to other dogs and cats (especially big dogs). It is a problem that I think I have let get away from us for far too long.

The first thing we worked on was counterconditioning Mia to the door opening and closing. Our trainer has a big training building on her property (with air conditioning!!) and Mia has learned that 90% of the time when the door opens a dog is either going to be coming in or going out. We noticed that she starts to react as soon as she hears the door start to creak. The plan was to drop a small handful of food on the ground right before the door creaks. We did several reps of this and then Rachel went and got one of her dogs, Glory.

While we were waiting for her to return, I worked with Mia on laying down on a mat (from now on I'll be bringing her bed to agility and privates to help her relax). We had barriers set up so that Mia could not see her. When Mia was calm we would have Glory appear from behind the barrier (or alternately, I would move the barrier out of the way so Mia could see her). She would get clicked and treated for looking at her. Unfortunately, Mia's threshold at the moment is pretty low so we didn't make a whole lot of headway.

Our homework for the next two weeks or so is to start Dr. Overall's Protocol for Relaxation and to work on more systematic desensitization with other dogs in more random situations (i.e. parked outside of the vet's office, the park, petsmart, etc.). She also reccommended scheduling a consult with a veterinary behaviorist that teaches a reactive dogs class at her facility. So we may do that depending on how things go.

We've got a long road ahead of us but it will be worth it! Tonight we went over to my parents' house for dinner and a movie. Mia is always excited to go over there.

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