Sunday, October 31, 2010

K9 Homeschooling = 30 Day Plan for Desensitization

We had our first visit with Michelle from K9 Homeschooling yesterday, we met bright and early at 8:30 a.m. at Westarbor Animal Hospital.Coco did very well. We actually were pleasantly surprised, but I needed a professional to point out just how aggressive Coco had become toward other dogs.

We spent the first 45 minutes in a consultation going over her entire history. Then we went outside where an unfamiliar dog (planted by K9 Homeschooling) was off in the distance with a dog handler. The dog was about 100 ft away when Coco had her lip curled and her defenses went up. The plan is simple. Let Coco see other dogs from a distance for the first few weeks and fill her up with treats so that she has a "GREAT experience" when she sees the other dogs. That way, she will associate new dogs with threats and love...instead of the usual jerk on her prong collar and screaming her name "NO COCO!!!" It was this consistent association that we just were not in tune with.

We had her on a prong collar and over time, her barking became more and more aggressive. Every time she saw a dog, her collar would tighten up and she would experience heightened anxiety because she would anticipate getting reprimanded. Add my weak state due to pregnancy, and you have the perfect storm. So we've dropped the prong collar and now have a "Sesnse-ation" harness that will not cause any discomfort.

We are using the "clicker" training philosophy and it's amazing how quickly we are seeing results.

Michelle has set up a comprehensive 30 Day Plan for Desensitization. It will be a lot of work and we will have to reach out to some of our neighbors who are doggy-parents to Coco's biggest nemeses. There are few dogs that completely set her off in the area, and we need to put Coco about 75+ feet from them, long before the confrontation, and reward her for not over-reacting. We will have to do this every single day, on our walks and hopefully once we can connect with our neighbors who will most likely support our request. Coco is a sweetheart and everyone knows it, but her behavior has got to be remedied.

Coco is a very sweet dog with a lot of potential. But if she hurts another dog or person she could be euthanized in Ann Arbor. With a baby on the way, we cannot take any chances. Coco is officially GROUNDED for the next 30 days.

On a side note, she's adapted well to the floor and is not sleeping with us. It was a rough few days, but it's been working well and we are MUCH happier sleeping through the night.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Second Night of Coco's NEW POSITION!

Quick turn around

Well, Coco has been fighting us on this issue, but she's been taking on her new position pretty well. After 9 months of sleeping with us, she has now been forced to sleep on the floor and is NOT allowed on the bed at all.

As I mentioned before, our trainer comes out this sunday. She said flat out that Coco needs to get out of our bed and onto the floor ASAP. Coco has been dominating over the past few weeks. Since I've been pregnant, she's been a bit more hostile toward other dogs and has just been a great big stinker, all around. Starting last night, she hit the floor and we've been consistent ever since.

Luna - a new pal

Today we took Coco for a walk right after work. After about 2 months of her FLIPPING out on certain dogs in our area, we were on the look out for dogs that Coco did not know. On our way out of Lakewood forest, a large brindle German Shepherd (who was off leash) came running at us full speed. "Luna!! Get back here!" came from a distance. Coco sat down with a HUGE smile and greeted her new friend. THANK THE MAKER Coco was totally cool with Luna. Our little Princess has flown into Cujo-mode on certain dogs, so we were not sure what to expect. It turns out that Luna and her family live around the corner from us and well, Luna's poppa is a professional brewer at the new "Wolverine Brewery" here on Stadium Blvd. I'll be hitting him up for some samples once we have the baby. Little known fact - the day I brought Coco home we watched "Moon" and I thought it was one of the best films that I've ever seen. I wanted to name Coco "Luna." Chris hated it and said NO WAY! I love that name.

Did Coco chill because she's sleeping on the floor now and NOT feeling like the Pack Leader?? Who knows. It's still too early to tell. But she is not sneaking up on the bed with us, she knows that we mean business. As long as we are consistent, we're good to go.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Old Habits Die HARD!

So, we hired a private dog instructor. There have been a few red flags and with the baby coming, we knew that it was time to break Coco of some pretty bad habits.
I had a very nice, long conversation with our new trainer today. She mentioned that one of the first things that we need to do is GET COCO OFF THE BED! ASAP.
Tonight I have kicked her off numerous times, but it's been rough. She's just not ready to go. Unfortunately, this is where her dominance issues stem from. We have allowed her on the bed since day one - against ALL advisement. Everyone was right. Coco has been a great dog, but my issues with the typical first trimester gave her an edge to take advantage of me. She certainly thinks that she is the Pack Leader...and as she sits here at the foot of my bed, I'm reinforcing this belief. UGH! This is awful. I know that I need to kick her off once and for all. I know. Training begins on Sunday October 24th, after that she's off the bed for good. The instructor will meet with us for a few hours and provide us with a strict plan. One of the main points will be to kick Coco off the bed for good.
Tonight...well, it's just not happening.

Coco Enjoys the Fall Season

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Coco get's a new baby brother or sister - SPRING 2011

Yep - here we go. About 1 year after we brought Coco home, we will be bringing yet another family member home. This time, The world welcomes either Asheton or Nova Talyor.

Coco has been adjusting okay to the new routine. My hubby is stuck walking her ALL THE TIME, now. I feel kinda bad about it, but the first trimester was unbearable for me. I was incredibly ill. Coco noticed how fragile I was, and unfortunately became over protective of me. Walking her went from my favorite activity to my most feared. She started lunging at other dogs that came near us and well, it was both alarming and down right EMBARRASSING! Now Chris walks her so that we can avoid that whole aggressive scene with Coco. I am playing phone tag with a trainer that will hopefully be giving us a hand asap. One of the big issues will be resolving Coco's need to protect me at every turn. Sheeesh - it's JUST a dog, Coco!

Other than that, she's growing out of control and is very much our little sweetheart. Chris's Grandparents came to visit last night and she was (luckily) the perfect Princess.

On a side note - the kitty drama has completely gone away. THANK THE MAKER! The Revolution has ended. Everyone is starting to adjust much better. Just in time.

Coco pretty much sleeps at my side every night and unfortunately awakes to ANY noise that she hears.

Coco celebrates her 1 year Birthday on November 11th!