Thursday, April 15, 2010

24 Hours Later...

So, I thought I'd give everyone a quick update on how the first 24 hours after the unfortunate incident went.

First, yes, I called animal control first thing this morning. The gentleman that answered the phone was very nice. I explained what happened. He told me that since Maisy didn't have any puncture wounds, they couldn't investigate it as an aggression case, but that they'd investigate and likely cite the owners for the loose dog violation. I did tell him that I kicked the other dog, and he was very understanding. He said that I was within my rights to do whatever I needed to do to protect my dog, and while he understood that it doesn't feel good, he would have done the same thing.

Speaking of which, people have kicked -no pun intended- around some ideas here in the comments and over on facebook about what to do about loose dogs. There's no easy answer, of course. Usually I try to body block the other dog, and I'm usually pretty successful at this. I've been teaching Maisy to "switch sides" to make this easier. But this particular dog was on top of her before I even saw it coming, so I didn't have the option to body block or "switch" anyone.

Grabbing the other dog by the legs and swinging was mentioned, although I have to admit, I'm not sure I have the coordination for that. In the right situation, though, it could be a great idea.

Someone else suggested throwing treats at the oncoming dog, which is a great suggestion, and one I've heard from Patricia McConnell, among others. In fact, I did have a pocketful of kibble with me, but in the stress of the moment, I didn't even think of throwing it. I do have some reservations about this, though, as Maisy has a tendency to resource guard me when she knows I'm packing treats. In a situation like this, I'm not sure if throwing treats would be a good distraction, or if it would just create a bigger problem.

Citronella was also discussed, but I dismissed it completely, figuring that the spray would also punish or repel Maisy, making the whole experience even worse for her. Then my brilliant friend Sara suggested buying two cans: one for potential attackers and one to use in advance to counter-condition Maisy so that she associates the citronella spray with treats. I think I'm a good trainer, and one who understands the concepts behind training, but I don't think I would have ever thought of that. Seriously, remember her name, because she's going to do amazing things some day.

Anyway, the most important part is that Maisy seems to be doing well. She was completely normal at home last night and this morning. We also went for a walk again this afternoon as I didn't want to change up the routine too much. I brought a dog-less friend along so that I would have a distraction that would help keep me from being stressed and weird. (And it doesn't hurt that Maisy adores this particular friend.) We also chose not to walk down the street with the offending dog, and we probably won't for a long time, which helped me stay more relaxed, too.

As proof of her ability to bounce back, she seemed emotionally fine on the walk. We walked by barking dogs without a problem. No freezing like yesterday, and nice loose, relaxed body language for the duration of the walk. I was much more liberal with the cookies than I usually am, and will continue to do that for a few days.

Of course, I don't know is what kind of fallout I'll see with Maisy's reaction to dogs in closer proximity. We won't push it this weekend because I want to give the stress hormones and the other chemicals in her brain time to recede. Even so, class next week is liable to be interesting. I'll have to remember to keep my criteria low and my rate of reinforcement high. I know Maisy and I can work through this, I just need to let the past remain in the past.

I am slightly concerned about her physical condition, though. Maisy got stiff halfway through the walk and began limping on the rear leg again. She even asked me to carry her part of the time. Clearly, I'll need to keep walks shorter for the next few days, and if it doesn't clear up, we'll make an appointment for next week.

Anyway, I'll try to return to our regularly scheduled program this weekend. Maisy has clearly moved on from this incident, and I need to do the same. There's no use in dwelling on it, and in fact, that might only make matters worse. Of course, I'll let you know if anything interesting happens, but from now on, I'm not going to worry about it.


Anonymous said...

Random thought: Have you tried doing an Awareness Walk from Control Unleashed? Perhaps a few of these could help her de-stress? It sounds like she's doing really well!

I had a long reply to this post, but the computer ate it.

Bringing a dog-less friend along to help keep your stress level down is BRILLIANT!

Crystal said...

Interesting that you suggest an Awareness Walk. No, I haven't thought of it, but I have been doing it. I'd sorta been kicking myself for letting her sniff without permission, too, but at the same time, was letting her do it... now I know why, lol.

I'm afraid a lot of my life is like that. I do things without really verbalizing why. I am definitely a person that works instinctually.