Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New Challenge

As if I didn't have enough challenges with Peyton's training, it looks like I now have a new one. At our recent open house, Peyton got extremely spooked by gunshots during a field dog demo. It was really bad...I've never seen him in such a nervous, panicked state - he didn't even want to get out of his crate to go home. Then this weekend I took him to an agility fun day at a new location and while we were walking in a nearby field, the sound of the teeter banging sent him in panic-mode. It took almost 2 hours for him to recover enough that I could run him (he did have some very nice runs though). And tonight, just as I was getting ready to take him out of his crate for class...another gunshot in the distance...and a really upset spotty boy. He didn't want to leave his crate until I got Indy out and ran her - then he got very excited and decided it would be okay to play. (Good girl, Indy.)

Until now, Peyton has never had problems with loud noises...fireworks, thunderstorms, etc. - he's always handled them very well. Now, I'm not so sure...I feel so bad for him, but I'm also feeling a little discouraged about the timing - we've been making such good progress lately. After talking with a behaviorist and my vet, I think we're going to put him on some herbals for a few months to see if it might help him cope. *Fingers crossed*. Noise phobias are NOT fun. :(

On a bright note, he's been working very well in class. He's no longer zooming as much as he used to and when I do lose him, I'm getting him back much faster. His start lines have also been improving - he's starting to look a *little* more relaxed.

Not that we don't have other little training challenges to work on - Peyton's table performance is really bad. He's decided that the table is for launching...NOT for stopping. And his down on the table is only good if I babysit - otherwise it's a dosit - 1/2 way between a down and a sit. I've not been very good about correcting it in class because I've been more concerned about our other issues, but I think it's about time I start really working on it.

Here's a little video from class last week and tonight. Nothing really exciting - although it does show off our really bad table performance. :)


Lisa said...

Kim -

There are some very wonderful CDs out there to desensitize dogs to noise. There is one specifically with agility trial sounds, including an entire segment of the teeter banging. I bought friends of mine with Labs a gunshot CD to play for their puppies to accustom them to the noise. There is also a thunderstorm CD. At least around here, they are about $18. If you can't find them where you live, let me know and I'll pick them up for you at our training center. We play the agility sounds CD during our puppy classes, just to get them used to those types of noises. Maybe they'd help Peyton.

I'd also suggest Melatonin and DAP. The DAP has worked wonders for my younger Dal's crate issues (a bit of separation anxiety, I suspect). It has a very calming effect.

I'm sure Peyton will bounce back quickly with a little help from you. He's obviously a smart boy. Let us know how things are going!

Kim said...

Thanks Lisa for the very good thoughts!

The behaviorist, who happened to be at the agility fun day, advised against any desensitizing or counter-conditioning this early after the event...I forget her exact clinical reasoning, but she basically said it could make things worse and the best thing I can do is try to limit the exposure for now. A little hard to do now that we are training out in the country! I think the CDs might be a good option to work with in a few months though...

The fact that he recovered so nicely last night is very encouraging. And he's showing no signs of fear of the teeter as long as he knows it's the teeter...he was crated right next to it last night.

I appreciate the DAP recommendation too - that's been on my list to buy for a while now. He's always very relaxed at home, but I thought it would be good for when we travel.

Thanks again! :)