How to Make Friends and Influence People

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If you look at this picture, Jonah looks pretty relaxed, but really he is on edge, watching everything and tense. He stays in this position (without moving much at all) for a long time before laying down. This is not your typical “chill dog lounge” although it looks like one.

 

Jonah has been making some big progress and did well meeting some new people. Please keep in mind that “big progress” and “did well” are defined very differently when talking about Jonah, because we have to take into mind where he is coming from.

His big progress: He now considers a certain spot on the couch even better than his crate and will preferentially go there when given his run of the house (at this point he does refuse to get off of the couch on his own). He barked/whined last night (the first time we have heard him do that) to go outside to go to the bathroom. This COULD be gigantic because it could be that he is asking us to take him outside (aka interacting with humans), but it could also just be he started whining/barking as he got uncomfortable.

When he goes outside, because he is so scared he has a very predictable pattern that he does not usually deviate from. His normal until now has been: slink/run out of the kennel to the end of his leash, scared of the sound the kennel makes and the kitchen in general –> go into the mudroom on a short leash (while frantically pulling in all directions)–> dash down the stairs–>pace back and forth, abruptly running to the end of his leash for a half minute–> go to the bathroom –>once he goes to the bathroom he is ‘rewarded’ by his leash being let go and he darts up the stairs to the door to be let inside–>try to escape human coming up the stairs by shying off to the right side as far as possible–> human picks up his leash/drag line–>lets him inside, he runs and leaps onto the couch and sits awkwardly until he lies down, watching.

But this morning, he didn’t pull frantically at the leash. He didn’t dart to the right side—he waited on my left side to be let into the house and he wasn’t leaning away from me/trying to escape. Of course, that was a one-time thing so far but it is hopeful.

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You can see his apprehension in every line in his body (worried eyebrows, tense face, hunched back, exaggerated lean) but he broke down and took a piece of chicken from our friend.

Jonah has met several new people and was able to relax some and fall asleep while sitting on the couch next to one of them. This was accomplished using a combination of desensitization and flooding. Flooding isn’t typically a technique that I recommend or use (it involves overwhelming the dog with what they are scared of), but with Jonah, it is impossible not to flood him right now if you are interacting with him and he is already completely shut down. Almost every interaction is too much so we make sure to let him have plenty of time between sessions. Our friend, Sarah, was excited that he did take the chicken she brought him directly from her hand.

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