Thursday, July 1, 2010

What is Dog Reactivity Part 3- Anecdotal Evidence Illustrates Maizey's Reactivity

On Tuesday everything from a moose to a squirrel taught us a lot about reactivity.

Tuesday was "take your dogs to work day" for us and we were working far up one of the local canyons. In the afternoon we were on an upper deck of a cabin and in the meadow below us was a moose.

Absolutely amazing! Not 40 feet from us was this huge, wonderful 4legged friend. Well at least I wanted to be friends. Maizey hit 8/10 on the reactive maymay scale. She took about four to five minutes to calm down and even reached the point of just chilling on the chair. I was very proud of her.
"Moose are sooo boring! They don't bark back or anything! And all crazymomlady does is work-booooring!"

Fast forwarding into the day about an hour I saw a squirrel out of the window. Curious to see what she would do I showed her. There were about 5 barks that measured maybe a 4/10 on the reactive maymay scale. I cued "stop it" and she immediately switched from true reacting to pretend reacting. She gave me a beautiful whiplash turn, sit and watch. I in turn asked for a touch (nose touch to hand) and a tag (foot touch to hand) and released her with a "okay check it out."

As part of not rewarding her pretend reactivity when she offers me the watch I started asking for other very simple behaviors she can do easily when not stressed. This was suggested by a great trainer we had a session with not long ago. So when she pretend reacts barks and offers me a watch, I in turn thank her and ask for a sit, down, touch etc. then just let her go back to hanging out. If she continues the pattern we do a calming stop (more to come on that) and then again ask for alternate behaviors.

Here enters her brilliance, yesterday she back chained sit-down-sit-touch-tag all on cue from me and immediately went back to pretend reacting at the squirrel. Not sure where we are going with that one, but she is such a smart little girl! We are hopefully having another lesson next week and crazymomlady will get some more direction on how to keep up with brilliant princessface.

Every experience teaches us something. This 4legged lesson taught me Maizey really does not like moose but is learning to calm herself, with a little help from me. 4legged lesson #2: she still thinks I'm stupid enough to manipulate into rewarding pretend reactivity. It also taught me I still have a lot to learn!

Post Script:
In a comment from the previous post I was asked what Meeka's alarmed, or worried bark sounds like. I thought a picture could better describe it so this is Meeka reacting to the moose:
"Hmm. . . thats one big animal out there. Looks pretty harmless, guess I'll go and take a nap."

Translation: she doesn't react. Rottweiler people will tell you a sign a good Rottie is their "wait and see attitude." In other words, "I'll wait and see if this is something I need to react to, otherwise I'm not going to waste the energy." Meeka personifies that definition of a good Rottie.


Lisa Rusczyk said...

I wish we had take your dog to work day where I work! I hope you had fun!

Crystal said...

I am highly amused that your Maizey put together the fake reactivity-sit-down-touch-more fake reactivity behavior chain. That is exactly why I refused to ask for a behavior when my Maisy fake reacts. (I completely ignore her when I know she's fake reacting.) I think it could work if you were random each time so the dog can't create a behavior chain, but I also know that my dog is smarter than me, and that there is no way I could be random enough.

BZ Training said...

Yeah - I'd say that's pretty unflappable on Meeka's part - what a good girl!

Does Maizey ever spin up Meeka? I get that, where Zachary starts barking at some thud he hears outside and Beau "sympathy barks" - although I can tell from his barking that he has NO IDEA why he's barking, other than because Zachary is.

Oddly, Zachary doesn't chime in when Beau gives his worried bark (usually a single BIG bark) although he does rush over to be "back up" if needed. :)

I read somewhere that a police officer can tell his dog's real growl (used at home when the dog is actually worried about something) from the growl used "on the job".

katie said...

Hi Kathleen, Sorry for the wait in getting back to you, its a busy weekend.

Meeka really never reacts to maizey being reactive but they will play wild and noisy with each other if they are both in the mood.

Pretty funny- one little and all hair and one big and all muscle!LOL

katie said...

thanks for reading again lisa! It actually can be take your dog to work day almost any day for us because we are self employed.:) However we try to only take them when they will not be cooped up in the truck too much.

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Lessons From and For 4 Legs has moved to a new address: Where we will continue to learn life's lessons from my little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel's, Maizey and Magnus. Don't miss Meeka's lessons too, by checking the archives of my big girl rescue Rottie. They all teach me so much!