28 May 2010

{27may2010: Rain rain...}

Go away.  
It has been raining for almost two weeks straight.  This is stereotypical Seattle weather.... but it shouldn't be like this!  It's May not October!
Darwin hasn't had many outings because she HATES the rain (besides her gimpy butt keeps her activity levels restricted).  We have a coat for her which helps, but at the same time, you put it on her and suddenly her butt droops.  It's like her kryptonite.  I'll have to try and get video of it at some point cause it really is funny.  
Anyway, there was one day last week where the weather was decent after work so we went for a walk and stopped in a park where this little boy ran over to say hi to her.  I love when kids aren't afraid of her and want to say hi.  Most kids (or their parents) are terrified of her because of her size.  (BTW, I got a blatant "where's her saddle" comment last night while walking her... doesn't happen often, but when it does it so bugs me.)  So after he gave her a few pets and compared her to his dog (a black lab) we kept walking.  I got her to sit under a pretty tree for some pictures (taken with my phone).

As I moved to get a different angle Darwin decided she was done posing.

On another note.  Any advice on how to get Darwin to stop barking at other dogs when we're out walking?  She used to NEVER bark at other dogs, even if they were barking at her, she'd usually ignore other dogs.  But ever since her mystery injury and drug treatment she's a nut.  There's a big old greyhound that walks around the same time we do after work and on the same roads.  Darwin could care less about her before, but now she barks at this dog all the time.  It's so embarrassing and frustrating.  People are going to start thinking she's a mean, aggressive dog which she isn't... or she wasn't... she's just hurt and drugged.  Ugh.  I miss my carefree, hyper puppy!


  1. Great pics! I don't know why she would start to bark....maybe she just wants to talk....that's what I do sometimes....

  2. awww, what a great picture! ollie never sits still to take a picture.

  3. I'm wondering if Darwin is barking because she wants to socialize. Since her activity has been limited due to gimpy butt, I'm sure her visits to the dog parks have decreased significantly. Hopefully, as she gets better and can be more active, the barking will decrease as she gets to socialize more. Just my theory...

  4. Woo get saddle,
    I get sled!

    Khyra & Khousin Merdie

  5. Oh, beautiful pictures!! Just love the white against Darwin's beautiful blue coat...

    As for the barking - try the usual for unwanted behaviour: find something that will interrupt her behaviour and as soon as she even pauses for a second, praise her (if she is clicker trained, you can use a click to mark the minute she shuts up and then reward - so it's clearer to the dog what she's rewarded for) - but otherwise, just giving verbal feedback (ie. praise) as soon as she stops can work too.

    The other thing when you want dogs to stop an inappropriate behaviour is to give them an alternative behaviour to do. So interrupt her and then redirect her onto the OTHER "approved" behaviour so that you can praise her for doing that. The alternative behaviour can be anything - but ideally something that isn't compatible with barking. Giving you attention is a good one because if she is busy looking at you and focusing on you, she can't look at the other dog and bark. This can either be a Sit & Watch command (eye contact) and reward for that - although it can be very hard to keep an excited dog still and looking at you, so I personally prefer Heel where the dog has to keep their attention on you and keep pace with you (and ignore everythign else) - this has the added advantage of keeping her moving too so you're not stuck in one place with the other dog there - you can move on. Other people have had success with other things like getting their dogs to do a trick they like or something - just another action to take their mind off barking and which is incompatible with barking.

    Also make sure you are not inadvertently rewarding Darwin when she barks at other dogs. Do you reassure her? Do you say things like "It's alright, Darwin - it's OK, don't worry..." etc? Coz reassuring is often the worst thing you can do - it rewards and encourages anxious/excitable behaviour. The dog doesn't understand the words - only your tone - and thinks you're a) confirming that there is something to worry about and b) encouraging/praising her for barking.

    I'm not sure why Darwin is barking but it doesn't sound like an invitation play bark but more like an anxiety behaviour. She feels anxious/uncertain about dogs approaching her and so expresses her feelings with her barking. It's a sort of "bluster" - trying to pretend to be braver & bigger than she is to bluff the other dog off. It could have started because when she was unwell, she was feeling more vulnerable and therefore easily threatened - or it may all just be coincidence and she may have started this behaviour anyway, as a result of her getting older and hitting this stage in her emotional development. Although it is useful to understand the cause, it doesn't matter so much in your treatment for the problem - it's still interrupt, redirect and praise/reward the alternative behaviour.

    Also VERY important to practise at gradually decreasing distances. Don't put her in a position so close to a dog where she reacts - you're setting her up to fail and everytime she is allowed to indulge in the barking, it is self-reinforcing and becoming a habit. So while you are practising the alternate behaviour, put more distance between you & other dogs - start where she CAN ignore them and do the alternative so you can reward that -and then gradually reduce the distance (ie. increasing the challenge). Baby steps.

    Good luck!

  6. Oh, I was hoping Honey's mom would read this and offer some advice! I really liked her answer.
    We don't get the saddle remark, we always get "where's your sled?". Sigh.
    I LOVE the photos! The petals on the ground look almost like snow. ALMOST! That last one made Stormy ha roo roo roo out loud! She's not much of one for posing for pictures! :)

  7. Those photos of Darwin are bootiful. The colour contrast between her and the flowers are just gorgeous.

    I think Darwin's barking is due to pent up energy because she hasn't been allowed her normal exercise due to her sore back.... STINKY does the same when mum hasn't exercised him, but when he's exercised, he's good. Genius Honey and her mommy have given you really good suggestions! The distraction method followed by praise is what mum tries to do with STINKY when he's having his moments!

    Next time we go down, we'll definitely give you a shout!!!! We drove by Marymoore last weekend, but didn't go because I still can't run and play yet... Hopefully next time we'll both be given the ok to go crazy ok?

    Love nibbles,
    Miss Sunshade

  8. I love those photos! I'm interested to see what you do with the barking. We're having a problem with Miss M getting super-excited to meet people that she just can't calm down...probably a similar situation but it's just so hard to use the positive reinforcement because of the excitement level at the time. I know what you mean about it being embarrassing and having people think your dog is vicious.

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  10. Honey's mom, who is an expert on training you big guys, gave great advice. As for us, we like to bark but when momma says, "Quiet", we sure know what that means☺