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Kira's Mom

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About Kira's Mom

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  • Birthday 03/25/1983

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  • Gender
  • Location
    SLC, UT
  • Interests
    Skiing, Mountain Biking, Golf, Frisbee, Hiking, & Paddle Boarding.
  1. Thanks for everyone's advice, took my reactivity/obedience related concerns to another thread here so I could get more in depth with it all ( in short - found a better trainer and seeked out the only actual certified behaviorist in Utah and we're making great progress). That said, time for an update with Kira pics since it's been a while! Kira stopped growing a few months ago. She was about 5 lbs at 8 weeks old and has settled in at 42 lbs. Oh, and she now fills up 1 large kitchen tile . A super snuggler in the making! This is her position on the couch while I do laundry. If only I could teach her to fold our clothes! Exploring the Wasatch mountains. Taking in the view .
  2. Thanks - glad to hear that we're (hopefully!) just going through a teenage phase and that yours grew out of it with some work. After our basics class, we are enrolling in a reflex control class where they bring in kids, skateboards, small animals, and a variety of stimuli. Looking forward to that insanity...might need a xanax for myself for that session of classes! Hah!
  3. Just a little Kira update here. She's 13 months now and we survived our first year together (including hosting a 10 person Thanksgiving dinner with all the smells in the house). I'm pretty sure raising a baby would have been easier for the first year... but alas, we love her. We are back in obedience classes now that we've spent a few months on some confidence building work. We're doing Basic Manners to start (because even though she knows all the basics, it's great to work with distractions/people/dogs in class) and we had our first class today. She did great. Only had 1 small reactive barking fit and recovered very quickly. An observing trainer had been sitting in the corner of the room for 30 minutes and Kira freaked out when said human stood up and walked around. Kira apparently didn't notice her sitting there the entire time . She came up and gave Kira some treats, and Kira settled down after that. For the most part, she was very focused on me and only started to lose her focus (aka got really bored) about 40 minutes through. A win! Still working on a variety of environment stressors while out on walks, but seeing some slow improvements. She's super treat/toy/play motivated, so she's been easy to work with in that regard. Biggest issue still remains other people/dogs. I've become the rude lady that says "Sorry, you can't come say hi, we're in training" or even today in obedience class when another guy and his dog walked up to us "We only do fast greets on leash." and then walked away to the other side of the room. Kira is good meeting other dogs on a leash for about 5 seconds for a quick smell and to say hi, but then gets really frustrated that she's on a leash and can't play/run or whatever strikes her fancy at the moment. We keep it short and sweet and then GTFO!
  4. Just a quick update as I realize it's been a while. Kira and I have met with a behaviorist that we both like and have a good plan in place to slowly but steadily build up her confidence. It involves working on her impulse control, lots of Counter Conditioning, Targeting, LAT, and desensitization at distances where she is showing she's way under threshold. Also working on 1/4 turns, playing some obedience games/tug games in new places, and emergency u-turns. I've seen some good progress and of course we continue to see some reactivity in various settings (mostly when things surprise us both even though I do my best to catch the triggers before she sees them). Other than that, I think we'll start her back up in an obedience class shortly now that I am better equipped with the right training techniques for her. Most importantly, I'm equipped with my own confidence in knowing what is right and wrong for her from a training perspective. I continue to see and meet trainers (even those recommended by rescue groups) who use aversive methods and I realize it was my lack of confidence that got us into the wrong situation. I've also learned to be MUCH more patient. Kira is almost 1 yr old and I'm learning baby steps and going at HER pace is the best pace. I was eager to have her be a well rounded and emotionally stable/confident dog all on her own. I realize she needs patience and an owner in her corner to not push her into situations where she feels the need to react. This requires me to sometimes tell strangers and neighbors that "no, she can't say hi right now" or ignore their funny looks when we simply ignore them and cross to the other side of the street. Thanks everyone for being so supportive and for providing great guidance. Pouring over stories of other owners reactive dogs and seeing how they've improved with proper positive training and maturity really helps, too.
  5. Such a stunner!!! Happy Birthday-ish Livi!
  6. A MASSIVE THANK YOU to everyone who's responded. I'm glad that I paused in my training for a moment to reach out and ask your advice and opinions. Much appreciated. I try and follow my gut instincts, but sometimes I need to be reassured that I'm not losing my mind. SO again, thank you for everyone's input. I've read in detail almost every thread on here about other members reactive dogs, so thank you for sharing your stories on the boards. Super helpful. I may get another harness with the patches saying "don't look/touch" so we don't have people approaching us without our permission. Then we can work on the manners of the people/kids who approach so they move slowly and allow her to greet them if she wants. Today at the dog park we go to (her favorite place) we worked on structured fetching (she's ball obsessed) and her recall. She also played with another 6 mo. old aussie pup for about 20 minutes (talk about 2 completely filthy mud covered puppies, they loved it!). It was nice to just go out and relax and have some fun together. She was super exhausted by the time we saw a 5 year old blond boy ahead of us and by the time he got close, she was too tired to react and simply just threw her ball at his feet. He got covered in some kisses as he picked it up to give to me. Lots of praise was given all around. Kira's currently passed out on my feet, still very much needing a bath. I've put the prong collar away in a box and will be focusing on clicker training and lots of BAT/LAT till we land on a trainer who can help us. We will likely sign up for some focus and impulse control classes, too. I shot out a ton of emails to other trainers in the area and will make sure we find a better match and will make sure training techniques are ones that work for US, not other dogs. I've read a ton on fear periods and am hoping it's just a combo of her needing more confidence, learning her triggers aren't actually scary, and adolescence/fear period stuff. But if not, I'm totally in her corner so we can built trust together, regardless. Based on much of the collective advice, I plan on building her confidence in spots she's already really relaxed in and will work much more gradually in "new" places that have more triggers. I promised her that we'll take it slower and I'll be much more patient. As she is ready and on her terms, we'll broaden our experiences. Will keep ya'll posted as things progress. Oh, and here is a pic from Kira saying "thank you board members for the advice!"
  7. Warning, long winded post ahead: Hi Guys. Hoping to get some referrals or advice for training and behavioral problems starting to pop up with my now 8 mo. old girl Kira. I used the search feature to try and find some referrals before putting up a thread, but came up empty. So here is some background and would love to learn if this is simply adolescent stuff, or even better, if you happen to have an excellent referral for a Utah located trainer w/ breed specific experience. My fingers are crossed that this is just a puppy-stage, but I'm concerned it's something more. I've always had adult rescues (2 cattle dogs in the past), so this is my first go at raising a dog. I was totally prepared for a BC lifestyle of lots of activity, training, and being a consistent leader, but was NOT prepared for just how sensitive and reactive a BC could be. I'm looking forward to Kira being a backcountry skiing and mountain biking companion and taking up agility as a hobby, so she'll have PLENTY to do as an adult. But, we need to get her to a confident behaved adult before all that. BACKGROUND: I got Kira at 8 weeks old (she's now 8 months old) and I have been actively socializing her to everyone/everything as much as possible daily from day 1. We've gone to lots of places, parks, dog parks, trails, mountain hikes, downtown SLC area. She's always with me experiencing new things. She's been a breeze at the house (puppy/nipping stage is gone, LOVES her kennel, has developed an impressive off switch and is good at unwinding, chews legal toys and leaves furniture alone). It's been much easier than I anticipated living at home w/ a BC. She's gets lots of age-appropriate exercise and mental stimulate via trick training, frisbee playing, and fetching. But, regardless of all the socializing I've done, she's starting to get super reactive and that's where our problems are at right now. I'm not sure if it's simply adolescent fear-aggression that she'll grow out of, or a problem that will just get worse. Either way, I want to address it ASAP. TRIGGERS: 1. Obviously anything moving super fast or noisy (bikes, skateboards, sprinting children). She's totally fine with me on a bike and will run beside me. But HATES other people on bikes? 2. Strangers walking up to us too fast or anyone wearing weird things (helmets, big hats, holding umbrellas, a guy with dreadlocks? I swear she notices EVERYTHING. 3. Things that startle her or are "out of place". Example 1: on a hike in the mountains when another person/dog pops up out of nowhere (blind corner, over a hill) or just simply shows up. Example 2: At dog park she's totally cool with people walking all over the place and dogs sprinting all over. She won't herd the dogs or chase them, but will happily play bow and wrestle around with other dogs similar in age. She loves puppies. The dog park we go to is about a 1.5 mile out-and-back with rivers/ponds and provides lots of space for off-leash play). She's great with the other dog and people (both on and off leash). But on quieter days there, if someone is sitting on a rock or in a place where she doesn't expect to see a person, she gets super reactive. 4. Small sprinting/yelling kids (this we work on a TON). PROFESSIONAL TRAINING: We went through a puppy social class (for 8 weeks) and now we are working with a new trainer on obedience who has some great reviews from other dog owners. Kira was VERY timid at puppy class and was easily overstimulated, but grew out of that. We have done 4 classes w/ new trainer who has insisted we use a prong collar for leash corrections and using that we've worked on sitting, heeling, fronts, and stays which Kira is great at so far. This training hasn't been super fun for either of us to be honest, though. It's all about corrections all the time. Trainer keeps pushing me to use a shock collar to correct Kira's fear-aggression, but I am having a really hard time moving that direction because Kira's super eager to please (aside from her puppy short-attention span), pretty sensitive, and I don't want to increase her fear/reactivity when I think she simply needs to learn strange things are not scary and that she needs to have her confidence built up. Honestly, I'm now having doubts that the prong collar is making her more reactive as well? Am I being too concerned that a shock collar could make her reactivity worse and just trust the trainer? I'm not sure if I need to just trust the trainer and adjust MY thinking, or find a new trainer? Trainer also said I should be doing lots of alpha rolls when Kira acts reactive as that will make her see me as a better leader. I do make sure I'm doing all the alpha stuff I've read about like eating first, "nothing in life is free", and walking through doors first/down stairs. So I think I'm doing an OK job on that front. But maybe not? I'm ranting now... I DO plan on starting her on an agility class next week, so maybe that will help with her confidence? REACTIVITY: it's a combination of lunging and barking at said trigger OR hiding behind me if trigger doesn't go away. I do not force her to stay in scary situations or coddle her either as I don't want to reward the behavior. Depending on what threshold she's at, we either work on sit/stays, LAT, or just beat feet if she's over threshold. She's never showed growling or teeth showing, just a loud deep barking. I'm actively working on the LAT game which we do a TON and it works really great with cars and watching kids from afar. I've read Control Unleashed and am doing my best to follow those guidelines. Kira totally ignores approaching cars within about 5 feet of us (seeing a car means an automatic sit and look at me) and is good around tons of children at about 10-20 feet so far. She just lays there and watches them or plays in the grass. The watching isn't staring or stalky-ish, more relaxed and laid-back. A few kids have approached us and if Kira is acting relaxed, I've let them pet her (I always tell them to NOT look her in the eyes and that they can only pet her if she smells them first and acts calmly). Then she generally just soaks the kids in kisses. Really depends on how the kid approaches us though. She's lunged at plenty of rude kids running towards us screaming "puppy" in which we simply make a u-turn and I tell the kids that she's in training and we back off a few yards and work on down-stays/LAT. Again, I don't want Kira to be forced to interact with kids if she's scared, but sometimes she's OK with it? Sonow you've read my novel (sorry, had a ton to say), do ya'll think I need a new trainer? Do I need to just relax and chalk this up to typical herding/teenage behavior? Am I doing anything terribly incorrect to make her reactivity worse. I do try and avoid trigger stacking with her so she has ample time to unwind and relax between new things. I guess I'm just kinda bummed that I've put SO much time/energy into making her a well socialized pup that I am a little unsettled to see her regressing into a reactive dog. I guess this is why they make wine and good senses of humor. *sigh, sip, laugh* Thanks in advance for your wonderful advice, this place has been SO informative.
  8. So cute! Good luck with your new pup, you guys are going to have quite the life together.
  9. Totally a heart-melter! I'm so obsessed. She's been just as much work as I expected, and less work than I expected in regards to raising a puppy, if that makes any sense. We are super active outdoors, so we are mostly working on US not pushing HER to be too active until she's old enough for some big hiking/running filled days. I think she's met her match for an active family . Yes, we are working on the look at that game, and I'm pretty anti shock collar myself. The trainer said it's totally my choice and she's happy to work with any tools I prefer, but she does constantly push for it which is starting to annoy me. All your comments just reinforced my own thoughts on the manner, so thank you!
  10. My last batch of pictures from the last few weeks. Kira is now 7 months old and about 34 lbs. She's gained 1 lb the last 4 weeks and the only growing I'm noticing is her hair (much longer now). Belly rub time? OK! This face kills me. She's turning into such a beautiful dog! Enjoying our morning coffee and some sunshine in the back yard. It's been about 90 degrees the last week here, so we've spent LOTS of time playing in the lake, streams, and the ponds at our local dog park. She figured out fast that water is AWESOME! "Please play with me, pleaaaaaaaaase......" Kira begging for some play time from Sadie.
  11. Pictures of Kira at 5 months old ... She's such a ham. She loves sitting on rocks, benches, logs and anything we ask her to "pose" on for a picture. Little collie on the prairie? Kira likes to give us putting tips from time to time. "I promise I'll just sit here quietly and not eat your couch."
  12. It's been a few months and Kira is turning into quite the pretty little lady! Her personality is really starting to show as she grows up and she is wildly affectionate. *love* We are going to obedience class and still work on training daily. She's become much more reactive to moving things (kids, bikes, skateboards) so we're working on that quite a bit. Aside from that, she has an insane amount of energy when we're outside, but is completely chill at home. I'm so happy we've been teaching her an "off switch" since day one. Total blessing! Her favorite time is watching TV with us at night while enjoying a bone and she is pretty relaxed around the house in general. Our trainer has suggested using an e-collar to correct her re activeness when in public, but I've been holding off as I'm not sure it's the best idea with such a sensitive dog. I'm currently using a "lay down and look" while treating when she reacts calmly to her triggers which has been working out so far. I feel that with enough time and positive reinforcement, she'll outgrow such reactivity. Now for some pictures! Kira from 18 weeks thru 19 weeks old.
  13. Yeah super similar! The vets guess is that she'll remain pretty petite, somewhere 35 or under. Perfect size for being able to scoop her up .
  14. Kira is also just a mini thing... 8 weeks: 4.5lbs 9 weeks: 6lbs 10 weeks: 11 lbs (whoa growth week!) 12 weeks: 12lbs 14 weeks: 15lbs 16 weeks: 18lbs 18 weeks: 22lbs 20 weeks: 24 lbs 22 weeks: 25lbs (seemed to pause for 2 weeks) 23 weeks: 26 lbs
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