teadog1425: (Marco)
[personal profile] teadog1425

Down to the yard this evening to sort out the monsters!

Diddi, bless his little zebra brindled socks, has learnt that humans mean dinner, and will come cheerfully up to the gate to have his head collar put on.  He is leading so much better now - he just has to get the hang of being able to move his head in one direction and his feet in another.  There is also still a LOT of work to do on being able to stand still, but that's quite a hard ask, I think.

Marco ate his supplement pills!  They were stuffed into chunks of apple mixed into his dinner and there wasn't even any head-shaking, so either he didn't know they were there, or he is now officially used to the taste.  I tried to get some video of him walking and trotting again, but I don't think it's possible to see much... 

I also tried a new tactic with the hosing.  It was really helpful writing up notes from Sunday, because it made me notice that although M was walking to the hose and standing while the water was over him, the actual moving towards the hose was reluctant in the extreme, and was getting more reluctant not less.  So, I decided to try a different tactic today.  Which was just marching past the hose, and then marching up to the hose and stopping.  I didn't do any actual hosing.  Didn't even turn the water on.  I just wanted to get him comfortable to walk smartly up to the hose and be relaxed standing next to it.  Gave him some treats while he was standing next to hose, and did lots of scratching and praising.  I think this was a good plan, because I could tell that he was waiting for the nasty water, and then it didn't come!  Hopefully, this way I'll be able to make a positive association with the water.  Well, that's the plan, anyway.  (All comments/suggestions gratefully received!)

Marco had pulses in his front feet again, so he was turned out with his grass muzzle on, which he was NOT happy about.  I fiddled about with the straps on his muzzle, as it looked like it was too short to me, the muzzle bit was touching his nose, so I adjusted so that there was a bit of a gap between the two - about a cm or so.  He is convinced that he cannot eat at all with his muzzle on - I have spent hours, trying to show him that he can eat the grass that pokes through the hole, but he just can't seem to get the hang of it.  :-(  Still, it's better than laminitis, so he just has to put up with it.  When I put Diddi out, Marco came rushing up, trying to get me to take the muzzle off, and so I spent about twenty minutes giving him a massage, watching his eye to see what he liked - when I hit the right spot, his eyelid would lower and half-shut!  And he loved it - at one point he did a little stretch, and then moved so that I could start massaging his butt!  He also did a couple of bits of licking and chewing when I had done some massaging and then stopped.  So, I was very pleased with that!

Right, time for bed - an early start tomorrow!

Date: 2009-07-25 09:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] glenatron.livejournal.com
When you have been hosing him, how have you done it? At what stage has he started to be unhappy about it?

Date: 2009-07-27 12:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] teadog1425.livejournal.com

I wrote a lot about how I was starting off trying to get him used to being hosed here <http://teadog1425.livejournal.com/11794.html> - I started really slowly just with a short length of hose, but I think that perhaps I got a bit carried away with the success of that, and then I jumped to inputting the water bit of it too soon... It was difficult because we did need to hose off his legs with his injury so it was very tempting just to jump up to that point already.

I had another go when I went down last night, and this time I just concentrated on watching when he got unhappy - so I could give you an accurate answer! - but I think that also helped, because it meant I wasn't focussing on end-gaming to the success of actually hosing him. The work with just walking past the hose on Friday seemed to help, because this time he was happy to walk up to the hose lying on the ground, on a loose rope (no dually halter this time), and to stop and stand next to/on top of it while I scratched him. After we'd done it once, he then tried to root himself rather than go up to it again, but rather than putting any pressure on him to go forward, I just waited, keeping my body soft, and focussed my attention on where I wanted him to go, and after a few moments he walked softly behind me to the hose. After that, he would walk softly up to the hose without hesitating.

I would stop on top of the hose, and he would stand there, a bit tense, but not actively worried. After about two or three minutes, he would signal that he'd had enough, and would start to walk off, and so I would lead him away from the hose, circle him and we'd walk back up to the hose, which again he was happy to do softly.

After we'd done that a few times, I experimented seeing what worried him, and really, I think even standing on/next to the hose was quite hard for him. Moving the hose with my foot made him tenser, lifting it in my hand got a worried look, and although he could stand still while I moved the hose towards his body, he was quite worried at that point I think. This was all without any water coming out of the hose.

I had an interesting conversation with my sister over the weekend, who is training as a dog behaviourist, and she was telling me about the technique she used getting her puppy used to being groomed (he's a newfie, so grooming is a pretty big deal!), which was to allow the dog to dictate how much they can cope with at any one time. So she would touch his coat with the brush, and when she saw any stress-calming behaviours (like licking the lips or turning the head away) she would take it away - the idea being that this builds up the dog's trust, and that once they know that they can control when the scary thing moves away, they will then be happier to increase the limits of what they will tolerate. So, I was thinking about that when I was working with Marco yesterday, and it was interesting how not pushing him past what he was comfortable to do, and also letting him dictate when he needed a break (by moving away), seemed to keep him in a frame of mind where he was happy to work with me rather than in a defensive frame of mind. It was clear that he knew exactly what we were working on, which is also interesting, when you think about it.

Sorry, this turned into a really long comment! What do you think? Is there anything else that you can suggest in terms of working further on it?

Date: 2009-07-28 02:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] glenatron.livejournal.com
I think your sister's approach is similar to what I would do with a horse- the same pressure-and-release approach, but in this case the pressure is the thing they don't want being near them and the release is moving it away when the horse does what I'm asking for. The important thing is that the horse gets release by being still and calm. There is a two-way thing here- you don't want to push the horse beyond what they cope with but you may need to push them a little bit. If you push them too far then they will probably run away and learn the wrong thing ( running away gets them away from the problem ) whereas what you want to do is to move the hose towards them or to make contact with them but not to scare them so much they leave. They do need to be able to move their feet though, so you will want to do this work somewhere there is a bit of room.

Typically I would expect to put the hose near to them and then just to stick with them if they try to move off so that when they move themselves it doesn't solve the problem of the hose being near them. Then wait until they pause or offer some try of something other than running away and take the hose away at that moment. The timing is essential here because the horse will learn from what is happening when you release and what you need them to learn is that by not running away from the thing they find scary it will leave them alone. You'll also need to observe carefully the moments they start to get nervous and to work around those. As you continue working you should find that you extend their comfort zone somewhat and make them feel better about the thing that had been bothering them.


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