I have to admit it. Positive dog training advocates would not approve. And I can understand why. But we are using a little aversion therapy now in our battle against self-harming.
When Isis goes into a growly spin, a quick spurt from the water pistol will stop her in her tracks. She shows no sign of fear. She never responds angrily. But she is distracted from the rage and continues with normal activity.
I hardly dare commit this to blog, but it is now a month since she last bit her paw and made it bleed. However, her DIY hair cutting and snapping at her tail and feet still happen. Today, for example, she has been unusually growly and grumpy. I cannot work out why.
I am still working on the main triggers for her self-harming rages by using pre-emptive strategies.
- She becomes over excited when she is about to go out and has to wait for her harness to be put on.
- This can be alleviated by putting the harness on her in the car and rewarding her for keeping still.
- She attacks her food so aggressively that bits fly out of her bowl. She becomes frustrated. She also eats so quickly that she is never satisfied and tends to finish her meal with a rage.
- She is now fed her dried food in her puzzle feeder. She eats more slowly, can find the food she has ‘lost’ and seems more satisfied.
- When given a large treat – a Dentistix, for example, she can only get a small piece of it in her mouth. She knows that the rest is somewhere close but can’t see it.
- Now I cut treats up into small pieces and require her to sit while I hand feed them to her. This one has been 100% successful so far.
- Sometimes when in an open space her twirling/fly snapping turns into spinning and self attacking. I reel her in as quickly as I can, but this is not a very effective solution.
She has been taking the Zylkène for about a month now. I don’t know how much this is helping but think it’s a good idea to continue with it for at least another two months. Then, if the fall-off of self-harming is consistent, I will gradually stop the Zylkène and see what happens.
And if her behaviour remains erratic, there’s still the Adaptil pheromone collar to try!
Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or www.dogwatchuk.com