Last weekend Molly and I met with an animal behaviourist. Well, we’ve actually met her before but in the role of a groomer. It was only through conversations with her groomer, C., that I came to realize that she loves animals so much that she sought training in many animal therapy solutions. So, not only do I have someone who is already familiar with some of M.’s challenges and insecurities but she really wants to help. You have no idea how happy that makes me.
For our first season C. came to the house with one of her dogs to see how M. would respond. The intent was to leave her dog out on the front porch (sheltered and secure with lots of water) so Molly knew he was there but he wasn’t in her space…yet. This was all to see how M. responds. C. then came in and given that M. knew her she was all wiggly and happy. But then, as usual, gets so overwhelmed that she started to growl and snap. C. expected this and showed me how to correct her. This one may take some time though…tell her ‘no’ or ‘tsst’ sharply (sometimes with a small jab to collar bone area) then make her do something to obey me…like sit or lay down. It was the next part of the season that intrigued me most…when C. pulled out some jars.
We were going to try aromatherapy on my little girl. If you think about it, it makes sense. A dog’s sense of smell is so much greater than ours that they would be more susceptible to scent than we would–and just think of how some smells make you feel, like lavender or vanilla. C. then pulled out several viles and let M. sniff them in turn. Whichever ones she licked or tried to eat the air around them she marked down on a piece of paper; this was the selection process. Molly selected three in total: peppermint, yarrow, and nelori. Each of these are great for calming dogs and encouraging relaxation. For the peppermint I’m to put a drop in her water once a day. This will help the oil get into her system a little more directly plus help with digestion and doggie breath. 🙂 The other two I’m supposed to let her sniff which one she prefers at that moment, rub someone into my hands and let her sniff or lick (they’ve be diluted with 100% organic vegetable oil). We do this two or three times a day. Oh, and there’s a bottle of lavender oil…for me. 😀
Finally, I’m taking her off the correction/chain collar. Molly is fully trained and doesn’t need that anymore and we feel it may have been a negative reinforcement. There’s a chance she began to associate skateboards, motorcycles, bicycles, etc. with pain which just aggravates her more. So I bought her a Halti collar instead–one that gently pulls her head to the side when she lunges forward. We tried it today. She hates it and successfully pulled the harness off her nose. That’s when I found out the one I have is too big. But, after I got it back on her and took her for a walk she got used to…as long as I kept her focused.
I so enjoyed our little stroll with the halti so much that I called the vet right away when we got home and ordered the right size.
I’m excited by the shifting methods and hopes this modifies her/our behaviour. I feel more confident and secure with this approach. It has to work.