Thursday, August 19, 2010

Motel Maddness

All in all, Riley is doing great, but there is still one issue that has me totally confused. There are times when she will completely freak out. Sometimes the fear seems triggered by sound and other times I wonder if it could be a scent. Either way, both have been very difficult to predict. Luckily, nothing as bad as this episode (click here) has occurred again, but it still is very perplexing.

For example, at the recent agility trial we came in and out of the building many times throughout the day. Riley had no problems with these short walks and potty breaks.... until about 6 PM. Suddenly, her tail was tucked, she was nervous and ready to bolt, and I have no idea why. The scene was a little different with less vehicles, people, and dogs in the parking lot, but the quiet environment was hardly a reason to turn inside out. Unfortunately, these episodes continue and often carry over to the next location. In this case, we loaded into the van and headed to a local park with shady walking paths. It took Riley some time to settle down, take an interest in her surroundings, and return her tail to a normal position.

There is one situation that has consistently produced terror in Riley's heart every time... the outside of hotel rooms. We have now stayed in four different hotels and she always has issues with just outside the door. Due to my past experience, I had a plan of action.

I brought rawhide chips and bully sticks. My plan was to rush Riley in and out of the hotel room so she would not have a chance to have a meltdown. Once inside the room, she would get to enjoy one of her special treats. Her meals were spiked with canned dog food and I planned to feed them right outside the door as we were coming and going so she would start to associate the area with something positive.

This worked for the first day or two, but I had to abandon my strategy as she would not eat outside the room anymore.

The rest of the weekend, I made her stay behind me on her potty walks outside the hotel or any other time she showed problems. When she is fearful, she is usually trying to drag me away from the situation so when she was unstable, I made her stay behind me so I was clearly leading the way. I think it helped. So far it has not interfered with competition, thankfully.