Friday, June 7, 2013

Fighting Like Cats and Dogs

There are very few things that send Barley over her threshold.  Even though she gets excited and/or anxious frequently, most of the time I can get her calmed down and responsive with a couple doggy pushups or the one-hour down game.  The few things that send her into wild dog mode are thunder, fireworks, gunshots, and my parents' cat, Missy.

Being a herding dog, Barley watches everything that comes into her territory.  She is protective of her "flock."  She's also very interested in things that are small and move without her permission.  Missy, on the other hand, was my grandma's cat that we adopted for her when Missy was 6 months old, so Missy spent most of her life living alone with an old woman in complete peace and quiet.  My dog is a little bit intense for Missy, so when Missy sees Barley she does one of two things: runs (which leads to a chase) or growls (which makes Barley even more interested).  

Over the last year, Barley has gotten better.  She doesn't always give Missy the border collie stare.  Sometimes they can be in the same room together, but usually when Missy realizes Barley's in the room she reacts and gets Barley's attention.  But, Barley has gotten more responsive even though she's really close to crossing her threshold.  Usually, if she starts to chase Missy, I can call her to front and she listens.

This week, I pet sat for my parents while my mom and brother went apartment hunting (my brother finally found a job!) since Dad works too many hours a day for their dog to be home alone.

One morning, I was sitting on the couch happily eating my coconut yogurt (yum!) and all of the sudden the blanket on the couch started wiggling and growling. I about jumped out of my skin.
Look who was under the blanket!
Barley, who had been fast asleep on the floor, popped up and started looking for Missy.  She had no idea where Missy was.  Normally, Missy hides under the couch, not on it, so Bar started poking her nose under the couch and couldn't figure out why she couldn't see Missy.

I decided this was a great time for us to work on our mat work and try to get Bar to relax even when Missy was growling and carrying on.

When we started, she was raring to go.  She was in sphinx position and her tail was wagging (not her happy-go-lucky wag!) and she was panting like crazy.

Soth was supervising again.
We'd spend a few minutes working on calming down on the mat and then get up and do a little heeling to give her a break and then I'd send her back to the mat.  Her drive to the mat is getting significantly better--but we learned that wood floors are not great for having good drive to mat!  They slide around way too much!

If I walked too close to the couch while we were working, Missy would growl and squeal.  This got Barley all revved up.  She got into a crouch that I had never seen her in before.  She was wound so tight--she was pulled back on her back legs and had her front legs pulled in as close as she could get them so she could leap up and pounce at any moment.  She was like one of those toy cars you pull back to wind up before letting it zoom off across the room.

Ready to pounce!

That seemed like a good time to release her at work on heeling again.  She was doing great with 360s in both directions and about turns, so I'm really proud of how focused she's getting with off leash heeling--even if it will never happen anywhere except in the house and in class.

A few minutes after we got back to mat work, she got into a much more relaxed position.  She was still panting and her tail was still doing the slow, anxious wag, but she wasn't in sphnix position anymore, so I call that progress!

It looks like she's smiling, but that's her anxiety face.
We worked on mat work and heeling exercises for probably 45 minutes, and Barley was worn out for the rest of the day.  We've also had very few run-ins between Barley and Missy this week.  Later in the week, I sent Barley to her mat just for a little relaxation and she was so excited to go to her mat that she got all tangled up in it as it slid across the floor.
"This counts as being on my mat, right?'
A tired dog in a tiny bed.
This can't be more comfortable than her own bed.
After we were done with mat work, I put Barley in her crate so I could make a video that captures Missy's growling and squealing.  She makes such strange nosies, so it doesn't surprise me one bit that Barley's interest is piqued every time Missy makes a peep.

Since Barley was calm, Missy made her way out from the blanket pretty soon after this and found another place to avoid interacting with my pup.

When my mom and brother got home, we made an Ikea trip to look at furniture for my brother's apartment.  We found these cute dog butts that I'd seen used on a leash holder on (and had ordered for my best friend when he got his puppy), so we got some and Mom made me my own leash holder as pet sitting payment.  I can't wait to hang it up and stat using it!
I love having a crafty mom!
Hopefully our training sessions this week were a good step in the right direction for peaceful cohabitation when Bar and Missy are under the same roof.  Wish us luck!

1 comment:

  1. I love having a crafty mom, too! I love when the big dogs get in that little bed :-) I wish Mad Dog had liked it. It's way cuter than the one he has now.