Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ask the Trainer - Obscessive, Incessant Licking

Lance came to class as a foster and again with his new owner.  The picture is the day he came as a foster with Deena working with him on focus.

Question: Lance is doing very well he is well behaved walks and runs with me very well. The only thing that he really needs work on is that he likes to lick your face and won't stop once he starts, i even gave him a good swat on the snout the other day and he didn't even flinch he just keeps pushing towards you and want to lick you...it's really annoying haha. so i was hoping to learn some way to get him to stop getting in peoples faces and licking all the time other than that, he is doing terrific. He is also very skiddish i don't know why, i think maybe he was abused as a puppy... 
A week later: Lance did pretty well at the class, he get's easily distracted with other dogs around but i think a little more focus training will do him well. I took him hiking after the class and against my better judgement i let him off the leash and i'm happy to say he did great he stayed close by and was very well mannered. I think it gave him a good sense of freedom but he still responded to me when i called and would come right back. I took him for another run today but he didn't seem so inclined, i pretty much had to drag him the whole way, but hopefully with a little more work he'll come to enjoy a daily run like i do.

Answer: It sounds to me like Lance may have been frightened by something when you started the run the other day. When you come on Saturday, remind either me or Deena to show you "look at that" and "reorienting" which will solve this problem.
Dogs generally have 5 things they can do under stress - Fight, Flight, Freeze, Faint and Fool Around. What you've seen with the licking is "fool around". That much licking and fawning is a sign of stress. Signe was right when she said he is saying "you're my master" over and over so you don't forget it :). It's the "fooling around" method of handling stress. My cat does this when I get to her tail during her nightly brushing. She doesn't like her tail messed with and starts to stress out. Her solution - grab the brush and start playing with it to keep it from her tail.
Not wanting to run was Faint. Freeze is different then Faint. Freeze you can unstick with some gentle tugging, Faint means the dog is shutting down in the face of too much fear/stress. First the Freeze (stop and check it out) then the Faint (shutdown) totally skipping the Flight (run away) because the stress is too much. The best way to handle Faint is to teach him who will handle any perceived danger - YOU. Which means you get him to focus on you instead of the environment when you walk out your front door (reorienting) and if you do see anything that might spook Lance, tell him to "look" at it.

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