Sunday, January 25, 2009

Stir Crazy

I think my dog is going stir crazy. Or maybe just crazy. She's always been kind of crazy, but she's been in rare form this week. Ok, I admit it. She hasn't been getting enough exercise and I know that's the biggest part of the problem. The 18" of snow on the ground makes the state park a difficult option, the lack of sidewalks rules out most of the streets around here, and the apartment complex seems to be full of reactive dogs on retractable leashes. Plus it's just damn cold. So those are my excuses, but in the end I still need to get my dog out more.

We did get out to agility on Tues, which was good for both my dog and myself. I think I'm going stir crazy too. The course was set up for us to work on distance a bit more. I'm starting to think it might be good for us to take the 5 directions class again at some point. I did get Iris to switch a couple of times without spinning though. Also, it's starting to click in my head how important my path is and how much even just a little shift will completely change what Iris is doing. The sooner I turn, the tighter my dog turns. If I start to turn change my mind and try and correct it, Iris is making crazy little direction changes too. Yeah, I know it doesn't sound so revolutionary in text, but it was on Tuesday. Having it make sense in my head and actually getting my feet to do it right are two completely different matters. I make no guarantees for next class - I might still be all over the place, but at least I know my dog will be following me, right?

Iris had a chiro appointment on Wed, and everything was in good shape except that she had two intestinal points out of alignment. Anne thought maybe from licking salt off her paws? I apartment does use excessive amounts of salt on the walkways. Iris hasn't been acting sick, although she was hair-trigger reactive while we were waiting for her appointment. She was pretty edgy in agility class too, although I attributed it to having a new guy (Iris would be feminist if she was human) and a very handsome Aussie (who I think she secretly has a crush on even if she is a feminist. It's like in elementary school when instead of telling a boy you liked him, you pulled his hair instead. Don't want to get boy cooties). Iris was actually better than she was last time new dogs/people were in class, when she pretty much shut down and stress-sniffed through the whole course. I need to start being more proactive with her training around the apartment complex. I'd say 9 times out of 10 when we see another dog, the dog explodes at Iris. No wonder she's so edgy. But avoiding other dogs isn't really helping her burn off energy either. Rock and a hard place anyone?

Excess energy might be the theme of the week. Or it was all just an exercise in patience. Lately, I've been leaving Iris in an x-pen in my bedroom (she has access to her crate too). She's been having a lot more anxiety when I leave for work than she used to. I tried a DAP dispenser, leaving on music, and giving her a kong, and I was hoping a little more space with help. She was doing better, but I think she started getting bored. Her fun new game was to see how many things outside of her pen she could reach. She destroyed a bird's nest. Acquired a collection of pillows and blankets from my bed. Pulled a plush dog's head through the x-pen bars (I'm still not sure how she did that one). I thought everything was out of her reach, but it's not a big apartment and she had plenty of time to be creative. I kept moving things, but finally on Friday she figured out how to jump the 36" x-pen. She was quite proud of herself. Ok, so she's back in the crate tomorrow because I don't trust her to stay quiet if she can look out the window.

I had to work today, so I brought her in with me because I was the only one there. She slept in her crate the entire day. Not a peep. Played with a bully stick for little bit, got up for a drink of water, but slept solidly the rest of the time. That's right, my brat dog will sleep for 8 solid hrs if she's in a crate next to me but keeps herself quite busy if I leave her alone. I do think it's an anxiety thing. She's gotten worse about me leaving her anywhere. If I leave her in the car, she barks. If I leave her in the crate at class, she barks. I know that's partly her barking at the other dogs, but I think she's barking at me too. Need to start working on that too. This week will at least be a short week for her. Because I worked today, I'll have Friday off.

I tried to find another class to put her in - maybe an obedience class or something to get her out on another weeknight. Unfortunately, everywhere I looked started new sessions at the beginning on January, so we'd have to wait until March. There goes that idea. I'm trying to at least get another herding lesson scheduled. Hopefully I can get her out to run around a bit on Friday. It's supposed to be the warmest day this week with a high of 32 degrees.

Is it spring yet?


Diana said...

What about doggie daycare? Maybe not everyday and some where that is good with reactive dogs. Let her play with maybe just one dog that she likes. Or do you think that would freak her out? Diana

Katrin said...

My boys are going stir crazy too, Blue. As am I somewhat! But they have it easy, I'm home most of the time to keep them from getting tooo bored. Feel for you and Iris.

She did great in class. And it's awesome that it 'clicked' in your head. That's the hardest part. Getting your feet to do it right will come in time. Just keep practicing.

Jules said...

What about making a commitment to training a new behavior and working on it daily for X minutes?

OR bringing her to drop-in classes at Masterpeace on Sundays (or Thursday nite) and working on being there while other dogs work?

She did do really well on Tuesday - I commented to Katrin after class how nicely she was moving. I think the chiro is really helping her.

Blue said...

Diane, I don't know if daycare would freak Iris out or not. She's been really snarky lately when we've seen other dogs while we're out walking. On the other hand she ADORES my dad's Beagle, and they play really well together. So I think she could handle playing with certain dogs. It's something to think about.

Julie, I like the idea of really committing to training *something* every night. See if I can wear her out by getting her thinking :-) Also, I hadn't thought about the drop in classes. Will have to look into it.

Thanks guys for the suggestions! I can't wait for warmer weather.

Cat, Tessie, & Strata said...

I was going to suggest kind of what Julie suggested -- working on behaviors. Or even tricks! There are all sorts of tricks you could teach that would keep her mentally stimulated AND help her in agility.

That's how I keep my two busy. The snow is over Strata's head at this point, and in her old age Tessie has become very hit-or-miss about snow... either she wants to snuffle in it for ages or wants to get the hell away from it. Also no sidewalks here either. I feel your pain!