11 November 2009

{10nov2009: she survived}

Thanks for everyone's advice on day care.  Darwin survived another day.  They said it took a while for her to calm down, but she eventually did and had fun with the other dogs, and the machine they use to clean the floors.  We're going to keep taking her in and hope she gets used to this routine.  
I think I'll make more of an effort to take her out exploring new places and things, besides the dog park.  Hopefully that helps a bit with her being a scaredy cat.  As I was dropping her off this morning I was trying to keep in mind the whole, don't reinforce it or say "it's okay" as it tends to just encourage that behavior.  I am confused as to what is coddling and babying and what is ok to say.  I kept telling her, let's go play.  Is that an ok thing to say?

Anyhow.  I was over at Mango's blog and he mentioned his friend Guinness had a run in with a rodent and needed some good vibes sent his way.  So I went over to visit, but wasn't prepared for what I saw.  If you have a weak stomach, don't go visit him, or go and visit, but scroll down really quick.  It's not really THAT bad, but not a pretty sight at all.  If you do pay him a visit, don't blame the vet (or his mom) as it wasn't a life or death situation. 


  1. Oh about the airlock, yeah, that is def not scary. I have no real feel for what is reinforcing b/c I think it depends on the dog I think I would just look for any small sign of relaxing and really reinforce that. It is hard to know, I agree. I would say if she is crying and stops even for a second then I would give her lots of attention and just ignore and press on (as much as you can with a big strong dog) with any thing that looks like hesitation. You have to go with your gut though, obviously you don't want to push her too much but I know my tendency when Moose hesitates was to stop and pet him and tell him good boy and come on and I think that made him more leary of what was happening. I found that if I do something confidently with him he willgo with the flow. I am NO expert though other than having a 'chicken hound' who was afraid of stairs and random other things when I got him (and still is to some extent). I got some doggie calming supplements (with tryptophan) and really believe that helped him conquer the stairs. You might try something like that. It is not like you would need it every time, just until she gets comfortable with the idea (since she has shown she can get comfortable there eventually). More places and experiences is always good but from your blog I can see that she is a well socialized dog (restaurants, offices etc) so doubt that is the issue but if it were me I would want to try another day care just to see if that made a difference. sorry for the rambly comment! Glad she 'survived' day care ;-)

  2. oh and yeah I went to guinness' blog and had to close it immediately. I felt bad because I wanted to leave him a comment but it was too horrible to see! Poor guy!

  3. I just left a long, rambling comment on the previous post about not over-babying so I'll try not to repeat myself here! I think we always baby/fuss more than we realise so do LESS than you think you should and you'll probably hit about the right note! :-)

    I noticed you mentioned in the other post about Danes being attached to their people - I think that's a bit of a common excuse for allowing timid, clingy behaviour in a Dane. I think ANY breed is attached to people - that doesn't mean that they should be timid and clingy. So don't keep thinking of Darwin as a Dane needing special treatment but instead just think of her as a dog.

    If anything, I think Danes DO have a tendency to be timid and so you have to work even harder as a Dane owner to NOT over-baby your dog, otherwise you will really reinforce and encourage that behaviour. Obviously, if your dog is genuinely distressed, then remove her from that environment or stimulus but in general, if she just hesitates or shows anxiety (but is not in full out panic), then best to just ignore it. And as Moose's human said, reward any sign of calm, relaxed behaviour (although you have to be very careful with timing!).

    We went the extreme opposite with Honey and made a huge effort NOT to "baby" her. If she was a human child, I think I'd be the kind of mother who would say "Come on, get up!" after they fell down, rather than rushing over and saying "Oh my GOD! What happened! Are you hurt?" - I would still check if she's hurt, of course, but only after laughing over the matter and acting like it's no big deal. It seems cruel but I think it's actually the kinder thing to do in the long run because you're teaching confidence and independence. Honey is more confident, sociable and stable tham most Danes I know - she constantly amazes me with the situations & environments she can cope with, from roaring traffic in her face to strange men putting their arms around her and picking her up (yes, I'm serious) - she copes with it all like "no big deal" - and I'm sure a large part of this is our "tough love" with her when she was younger. Anytime Honey acted fearful or anxious, I just ignored it or even laughed at her. I would also "force" her to deal with it - ie. do some training near the source of fear, so she learns to focus on somethign else and be rewarded for it.

    If I were you, I would just get out of the car, act very matter-of-fact, put on Darwin's lead, say "Come on, let's go!" in a cheerful, upbeat voice, walk briskly into the daycare centre - if she balks, don't stop - just give her little tugs to encourage her along and praise when she walks with you- but otherwise ignore her or any tantrums – hand her over to the daycare people, give her a quick pat if you like and then walk out. The challenge is for YOU to act very calm and relaxed and “no big deal” while doing all this. Remember, she takes her cue from you so you’ve got to show her how “no big deal” it is. Also, when you pick her up – don’t make a big fuss, hug her, squeal “Did you miss me? Did you have a good time?”, etc – in fact, if she rushes out all hyped up, I would just ignore her until she has calmed down a bit (talk to the daycare people if you have to) – our golden rule for Honey is no eye contact or attention from us until she Sits calmly in front of us – and then just take her leash and walk out to the car, again very calmly and matter-of-factly. Load her in and take her home. And THEN you can fuss her if you want to. But not at the moment of picking her up.

    Anyway, I do think persisting and a bit more time (and making sure you are not making a big deal out of it) will help her to adjust. If she is still having a tough time in a few weeks, then maybe rethink but it sounds like she will get used to it if given time and the right encouragement.

    Good luck!

  4. Hsins right about the dog taking cues from you. I had to do this when Chels wanted to leap at everyone while we were out walking. I knew it was coming and would automatically tense on the lead.. so this reinforced that something was up... I had to retrain me... to project calmness at all times.
    Dogs are tuned to our voices and body language, keep it calm & confident.

    One of the hardest was when I came home from work. They'd be excited and so would I... and it was fun when she was a pup...soon worked out an excited full sized dane can do damage. So my trainer got me to ignore her till she was calm.. was so hard to do as I felt rotten ignoring her but it was for the long term best...

    Its also about having confidence that your doing ok... I wasnt as confident with Chels as she was my first Dane. I think what saved her from being timid is that from day one where ever possible she was with me so had heaps of new experiences..

    I also did what your doing and that was keep on blogging and talking... so many helped me with Chels just in their comments and to realise I wasnt the only one going through things... We're all learning as the dogs are every day

  5. When I was a baby I was scared to ride in the car. I would cry and cry and mean momma just ignored me, but then I would stop crying and that is when she patted me and said good dog. Now I love riding in the car (but I am still shy meeting new people).