Saturday, May 17, 2008

'tis the life

We actually have a grassy backyard now, so lately Loki's been discovering how nice it is to lay down on the cool grass. He completely shuns his outdoors bed (or rather, two old patio furniture cushions that I tied together). Oh well. As long as he's happy. (Yes, that's a 30 inch bully stick. It STINKS.)

Meanwhile, Glitter plots her latest escape.

Glitter has gotten out twice over the last two days. My parents and I have developed a system where we let Loki loose (with a 30' lead still attached to his collar) to "chase down" Glitter. It's worked really well so far. Loki will chase her and pin her to the ground. As soon as he's sure she won't go anywhere, he'll back off but continue staring at her until we catch up to the two of them and pick her up. The first time, he trapped her at the base of a tree. The second time, he chased her right up to my neighbor's front door and cornered her until we caught up.

I'm really paranoid about letting Glitter out because Jason and I have already saved her from our roof (in NC) more than three times. If she somehow gets onto a neighbor's roof, I'm sure they wouldn't be too happy. I'm also paranoid because our block is right off a busy road where the posted speed limit is 40 (meaning people in NJ go at least 50) and there's only one house separating our's from that road. Maybe we'll eventually let her out again, but definitely not while I'm staying in NJ.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Food Aggression Part II

To start this post, I need to give a special shout-out to the parents of Dennis, Tucker, Trixie and Trouble the Kitty. When I first mentioned food aggression on here, they jumped to our rescue by sending/recommending various resources. I based everything that I did with Loki regarding his food aggression on the training schedule they recommended but did not follow it exactly (the training schedule stressed teaching Loki that us approaching him while eating would result in something good).

I'm going to go more in detail about how we got Loki over his food aggression for anyone who's interested. I mentioned feeding him in his kennel, a week with my friend's Bulldogs, and feeding him through the glass door, but that really wasn't just it. All that follows really wasn't planned. It was just improvisation but still based on the whole "human approaching = good" philosophy.

The first step we took was to try and go through the whole schedule in one day. Wrong - so very wrong. Good thing no one got bit.

So, we went back to the basics and started with something we knew he wasn't aggressive towards. Since he wasn't aggressive towards dry food, I decided to take away Loki's dry food away occasionally and throw in a few scoops of wet food. In the end, Loki just decided he never wanted to eat dry food alone, so the dinner meal just became Blue Buffalo wet + Solid Gold dry. I don't know why, but for some reason, after we used wet food for training, Loki was just never aggressive towards it again except with other dogs. He got over that quick when he stayed with my friend's Bulldogs.

For the raw, I let him get comfortable with the positioning of his food (he wanted to eat standing between me and the bowl, so I let him. He did not react when he ate in this position - only when I forced him to eat with the bowl between us.) I helped him feel more secure while eating by placing his bowl in the back of his kennel with the door open. When we did this, he would occasionally try and take the chicken outside the kennel.

If I stood up, he would high tail it back to his kennel (his safe place). I would follow him and toss a treat into his bowl. If I stayed put, he would eat in front of me while watching me very carefully. I would toss a treat at him every once in a while. Eventually, he just became comfortable with eating his food in his kennel with the door open and eating his food in front of me as long as I was sitting down.

The next step was to get him to be comfortable eating with me standing up. Each time I'd stand up, he'd run back to his kennel with his food, which tells me that he feels safe in his kennel but not with me standing. I couldn't figure out how to fix this, so we just started feeding him outside on nice days.

Since we have a glass sliding door, I simply started off watching Loki as he ate. Then I decided that I would teach Loki that me standing up and approaching the glass would result in something good. Each time I got up, I would take a drumstick from the counter and drop it in his bowl. At first, he'd take his food and step away each time I opened the door and finish the food before investigating. However, lately, he's just been dropping the food where he stood and coming to investigate the bowl immediately.

Yesterday was the first step to see if the through-the-glass-door reaction would work the same indoors. After we decided we'd need to take the pork knuckle away from him, I went to the treats cabinet and took out a jerky treat. Hid it in my pocket until I got close to him again. Tossed the treat into his bowl (he took the bone out of his bowl and was eating it on the blue blanket). He left the bone to investigate what the new thing in his bowl was, and in that time, my mom took the bone. Throughout all this, there was no growling or nervousness over humans being close to his food (there were 3 of us about a foot away from him watching him eat the bone). He simply ate normally and waited patiently for his food after it was taken away.

I guess the next step is to see where there are still holes in the food aggression and to get Loki to "drop it" on command. I'm sure that the training isn't 100% foolproof. In fact, I'm sure there are more holes in it than if I just stuck with the actual training schedule as mentioned in the book. However, I'm just glad that I was able to get Loki to this point (where I could take away his food at all) in this amount of time.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Is this boy spoiled or what?

So obviously that whole, "dog stays in the basement when you come back home" thing just went out the window. Now Loki spends most his day just following me wherever I go in the house.

I guess my parents couldn't even say no to those big... yellow... eyes.

He's beyond spoiled now. My mom saves the bones and meats for him after she's done cooking. Today, the meat of choice was pork knuckles. At first, we just gave it to him whole because we figured he wouldn't try to crunch down on the thick bone. Wrong. So, we took it away to remove the meat (well, my mom did. I just sat around and took pictures) (notice I said we took it away! With no struggle! Raw meat! He's cured!)

My parents also let him in the carpeted areas of the house now (as long as that big blue blanket follows him around).

Meanwhile... Glitter sleeps safely out of Loki's reach on top of my dad's fish tank.

I'm starting to wonder if they'll ever leave. I mean, why should they! My parents treat them like royalty!