15 June 2014
No staring allowed.
Gustavo used to stare all the time. At the doornob, at a spot on the floor, sometimes at the wall. He had bunches of quirky behaviors that reminded me of things that some border collies did. But the staring got worse and worse, to where you couldn't unstare him, he would go catatonic. That's when his vets figured out that it was actually focal seizures. He has a medical condition called hepatic microvascular dysplasia. A radical change of diet (no protein!) and medicines helped him out. He'll always have this, his liver doesn't work right because the blood vessels are messed up in there so it doesn't clean the toxins out of his blood and the toxins turn into ammonia in his brain. But if he eats no meat and takes his medicine, he does really good.
Banksy likes to stare. At dust specks on the floor, little leaves, teensy tiny bits of stuff that might blow across a driveway or the parking lot. This is something she really likes to do, and I don't like her to do it. I try not to make a big deal about it, redirect her to a toy or give her a bone or take her somewhere else to do something else. Most of the time this works, but occasionally it doesn't. It's a behavior I am especially freaked out by because of Gustavo, and the last thing I want is a dog who is so busy staring at that teensy little tiny piece of hair that she couldn't possible do anything else.
It comes and goes. It's not at all consistent. She has favorite places to stare, some of them are easier to keep her away from than others. Like the floor of my house. This, by far, is her biggest distraction. Calling her away from the other puppies while agility is going on? Take treats from me during a walk in the forest? Challenging but we can do it! But calling her out of living room because she wants to look at a single piece of dog hair on the wood floor? This is the biggest challenge of all. I don't know if it's caused by stress. Being tired. Not tired enough. Not enough training. Too much training. The wrong food. Too much food. Not enough food. It doesn't seem to follow any patterns, at least that I can find so far.
Banksy's a really good puppy and seems pretty happy with how her life is going in every other way. She just has a hobby that I hate. It's definitely our number one training challenge. But I'm going to try and get her kick the habit. Twelve step it if she has to. Just say no to staring.
by team small dog at 8:42 PM