Working on Zeke’s Skittishness

The past month has seen Zeke’s skittishness improve immensely! I have been able to tie him out in the driveway multiple times for an hour or two with no incidents. I started leaving the screen door propped open, allowing Zeke to come inside and go back out as he pleases. I noticed many times he would peek to check if the door was still open, but he rarely actually came in on his own. Every 5 or 10 minutes I would throw a small piece of food treat on the ground when he wasn’t looking. This way, if he started his wierd, obsessive sniffing, the food scent would immediately distract him. Since mosquitos started to come in the open door =P I set up a citronella candle in the doorway with a fan behind it blowing the smoke out. Not only did the scent & turbulent air stop the mosquitos but I felt like the additional scent floating around also helped calm Zeke or at least distract him. 

We have also been keeping to our walking routine. At night if we are not taking Zeke to the dog park and I am not running him, then we stick to walking around the cemetery area. A few times he was nervous on the residential block getting to the cemetery, but keeping myself relaxed and moving forward calmly, yet firmly, allowed Zeke to pass through with minimal stress. In the mornings we are still able to walk just about anywhere with no incident. He did become nervous when running through new neighborhoods when we were exploring the Greenway. I expected it, and will just avoid those areas.

Today we walked past the infamous “pony riding statue.” You know the ones outside of the local grocery stores that kids can ride for a quarter (or maybe now 50 cents.) In the past, these moving statues have cause Zeke to completely freak out-bolting with a whale eye, tail completely tucked. Real horses used to do this to him also. But, thanks to desensitizing him to real horses at Forest Park & teaching him to be calm or even sit as they pass, he reacted much more positively! In fact, he walked right by, but did turn to sniff at it & then looked at me. This is his way of telling me he wants to investigate-its just something we’ve developed on our walk. If he slows, turns to look and sniff at something and then looks up at me, he is asking permission to get closer. Sometimes I say yes, and he walks over, sometimes I say leave it, and we continue on. Today I said go ahead! He crouched closer doing that slow-moving pointer-type sniff. When he got more confident, Zeke continued to go right up to the pony’s butt and sniff under the tail. HAHA. Then realizing there was no threat he walked around to the pony’s head and proceeded to try to play with it! Play bows & jumps & everything! What a funny dog.

The skittishness is by no means gone yet, but it is improving more and more. Even the one day when we were running in the new area and he reverted to full on bolting, I was able to get his attention and at least steer him another way. In the past, that would have been impossible. We are getting there!

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~ by manicivy on November 1, 2013.

5 Responses to “Working on Zeke’s Skittishness”

  1. Aw yay Zeke! Try introducing him to new running routes slower. So say on your regular route, try going out of the way a block, treating while you go, and then a little more, as he feels comfortable. Then after awhile he should think, “OOH new place means TREATS!” Him looking to you for approval to go check something out is AMAZING! Man, I wish I lived closer so we could get him and Kali together, they would be a riot!

    • Thanks! Yes! That is a great idea- I started doing that with the evening walk when I bring treats. Just going one block out of our usual way and treating him heavily if he is calm. I forget sometimes I should be training while running too. Your dogs look like a lot of fun! I’m sure Zeke would love to run around with them!

  2. Good for you, Zeke!
    You know, I’m human and those kids pony rides freak me out. Their motion is just so awkward. LOL

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