Friday, November 23, 2012

Hiking, coughing, reactivity.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, but I was working my usual schedule. As a dog walker, if my clients still want their regular walks on a holiday that falls during the weekday, then I am still obligated to walk them. But I have the weekend off to visit my parents and eat the obligatory turkey.

In the morning I took Chimera to Redwood Regional Park for a slow-paced hike. This is my favorite regional park, and it's very close to my home. I used to go there with Dragon once or twice a week and we would jog the trails. It felt odd to be there with my new puppy, and like most things that remind me of him, it made me feel very sad again. But Cai had a great time. The first time he saw people coming up the trail, he growled, but I quickly got treats in front of his face and started practicing Look At That. (In other words, I put looking at something on cue and turn it into a behavior he can offer to get a treat, making the thing less scary.) He stiffened a bit at the first dog he saw. After that, he greeted both people and dogs without any stiffness or overt reactivity, even when they suddenly came around a bend or over the top of a hill.

Afterwards he went to the Full House with me and hung out with the other dogs with a minimum of barking and growling on their parts. Cai is only fazed for a moment by them. Later he even tried to invite the most nervy one to play. He's also getting used to the kittens who sit and stare at him, and offered to play with them. (He was turned down, alas.)

Today I slept in because I'd stayed up late to participate in the start of Tawzer Dog's Black Friday sale. I decided to take Chimera on my daily dog hike rather than giving him a separate outing. He was happy to see his friend the playful chihuahua, and once again they raced back and forth together. On this trip he showed no reactivity at all, even when at the end I was getting ready to put the dogs into the car, and an off leash dog ran up and two of mine started barking and lunging. I was pleasantly surprised. It looks like he's regained his confidence with people and dogs on trails. This won't generalize everywhere, of course. However I'm also seeing a reduction to his reactivity toward people in other situations. It's popped up here and there, and specifically toward people coming straight at him, or appearing in the shadows. Yummy treats are convincing him that they're not so scary.

He napped in his crate while I met some friends for lunch, then I rushed home to take him to the vet to get his cough checked out. Of course he didn't cough while he was there. He hasn't been coughing frequently, but it's been about three weeks and the cough hasn't gone away. The vet checked him over and found nothing worrisome, and was able to induce a cough from him only by rubbing at his throat for a while. She prescribed a homeopathic cough reliever to help his inflamed tissues calm down, and asked me to try to video tape the cough when he does it on his own. Hopefully the medicine will be enough for it to pass.

He was quite hungry after the appointment, and I was able to get him to willingly take the medication. It's a liquid that gets squirted into his mouth with an oral syringe. I clicked and treated for investigating the tip of the syringe as I held it out. He immediately tried licking at it and chewing on the tip, since he's a mouthy puppy. I switched to pushing it in just a bit, onto his tongue, and then treating. After a few reps I quickly squirted in the medicine and then gave him a jackpot of treats on the ground. The vet had said that it shouldn't taste bad. I'm sure his reaction to the syringe tomorrow morning will tell me what he thought of the taste.


  1. Such a great match when a puppy comes into a dog trainer's life. Sounds like you've been taking care of things most average owners wouldn't even think of, especially med-giving. YAY YOU!

    1. Thank you! Although some things I'm not so successful at -- he still hates being picked up! But it really is a comfort to know that the odds are stacked in our favor. :)