Monday, April 17, 2017

Monthly Assessments

I just finished listening to an episode of the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy Podcast interviewing USDAA Worlds Team Coach Loretta Mueller.  In it, Loretta talks about how she raises puppies, and how she tries to take a fresh look at her new dogs on a monthly basis to get an idea of how the dog is actually doing, instead of just extrapolating from how the dog was doing.  Ida is no longer a puppy, but I am definitely going to apply this concept to our journey, especially as we begin to work our way through Amy Cook's Dealing With the Boogeyman course materials at the bronze level.

I've picked five domains that I think will give me a picture of how she is doing over the long term.  My goal is not to describe what we are working on in these posts, but rather to talk about Ida's behaviour overall and in specific circumstances, where applicable.

How she is in the home: Ida has relaxed at home.  She calmly naps more, sleeps through the night more often (7/7 nights this week), and is less prone to guarding her food toys.  She still chases the cat when he runs and jumps on/mouths Snowball when he is highly aroused/excited (e.g., when I come home, just before Snowball goes for a walk or car ride).

This week Ida was upset by disruption in routine by the holiday long weekend.  I normally work Monday to Saturday between two jobs; this weekend we went to visit my mom on Saturday so I worked Sunday instead and last night and this morning (Monday, which is still a holiday) Ida seems more stressed than usual, indicated by increased licking, panting, and restlessness during times when she normally naps.

How she is with meals: Ida is ambivalent about meals.  This week she was better about eating kibble used as training treats although she will still spit it out if I have something better on/near me.

How she is outside (of the yard): Ida is eager to go outside.  She walks along the street without retreating from loud cars going past, although she does freeze and won't take food until they are past.  She takes notice of dogs at ~50m away and her reaction threshold seems to be about 30m, depending on other triggers.  She exhibits indications of being conflicted - she reacts to dogs that are far away in a somewhat offensive manner (loud barking and howling, ears back, tail up, weight shifted forward), but if allowed to move towards them gives lots of calming/appeasement signals, relaxes once they have sniffed, and invites them to play.

How she is during (for now, at-home) training sessions: Eager to work but easily distracted.  Eager to chase and tug with floppy ball, but reluctant to bring it back to me.  Difficulty picking up verbal cues.

How she is with the car: In the garage beside the car, Ida will readily play with and without toys.  She takes medium-value food (Zukes) both outside and inside the car.  She willingly hops into the car.