Animal Psychology


My dog needs a therapist.

After three months of being quite consistant with the house-breaking, she's suddenly developed mental problems. Mayo Clinic's website was no help at all. For some reason, Irish Setter's aren't listed in any category.
Which I don't understand, because surely we're not the only ones with this problem.
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It's got something to do with the proliferation of gophers and moles taking over our property. She's gone wild chasing them above ground and trying to dig them out wherever she stops. Our back yard looks like Bahgdad.
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I got creative and installed an electric fence along the side to keep her away from the area with the most craters and I thought we were getting the picture. Then she tried to walk through it!
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It was a perfect cartoon reaction.She bolted blindly into the hotwire with no reaction until she was halfway through, then leaped three feet off the ground. She twisted in midair, wrapping the fence around her body as she yelped and squealed. She was untangled by the time I got to her, but she took off to the back door, tail between her legs, trembling like a leaf in the wind. Poor thing.
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She has viewed the back yard like a war zone ever since and has opted for indoor plumbing, namely Wayne's office. You can imagine how well that goes over. We've been able to coax her onto the patio, but when we point to the grass, she gets a wild look in her eye and runs back to the door, quivering tail between her legs. The gophers hold no fascination anymore, so that part worked.
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So now we have a torn-up yard AND a dog pooping in the house. If she wasn't so sweet we'd be madder about it, but she gives us this look every time we scold her that says, "Yes, you're right. I'm a bad, bad dog and I deserve any punishment you can give me." It's hard to be wrathful with such devoted groveling.
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Yankee, the Maltese, on the other hand gives us a look that says, "You lay one hand on me, and I'm calling SPCA." She's been prancing around all week with her nose up and a cartoon thought bubble over her head: "I told you we didn't need another dog."
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So, poor Babe has been put back on leash-duty when in the house while we wait for a competent therapist.
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Maybe I need one too.

1 comment:

Carol J. Garvin said...

I'm afraid I'm with Babe on this one. The purpose of electrical fencing is to give one quick zap to deter further advance. Getting tangled in it prolonged the electrical punishment and terrorized her so she's now convinced your back yard should be avoided at all costs. We had a Sheltie that hated to get wet, had the automatic sprinkler come on while she was squatting on the lawn and subsequently chose the rug inside the patio doors for a drier alternative, so I can appreciate your dilemma.

You may need to block Babe's access to the office for the duration of her retraining as she apparently feels secure in there. (It may be because it's Wayne's space and she associates you with the trauma.) I suspect you're going to have to return to basic training techniques... regularly taking her outside on leash, walking her through the back yard and beyond (away from the fencing!), treating her with praise and tidbits if and when she finally poops out there. It's a nuisance but the sooner you break the undesired cycle the better. Good luck!