Things we’ve learned about Pyrrha lately

This post may become a regular feature, as it seems like we’re learning new things about our shy girl every day.

Are you done with the photos yet?
You done with that camera yet?

Here are a few things we’ve learned about Pyrrha this past week:

  1. The girl is great at chasing moths! She enjoys this nighttime activity immensely. And she’s pretty successful at catching them, too.
  2. She may not have a great memory with house guests? She was immediately fond of our friend Ann-Marie who was staying with us this past weekend (a bit leery of Ann-Marie’s husband, Shaun, but warmed up). But the next morning, when Ann-Marie walked out of the bedroom, Pyrrha growled at her. This, obviously, was concerning. We were all pretty shocked and I corrected her with a sharp “no.” Ann-Marie, who is good with dogs, walked slowly up to her and let Pyrrha smell her, and then she was fine with Ann-Marie for the rest of the day. My only guess is that she was possibly scared by Ann-Marie’s big, baggy pajama pants, which made a lot of movement? It still seems strange, though. Definitely something to watch and be aware of.
  3. Pyrrha loves running in crazed circles by herself in the yard. She doesn’t do this terribly often, but sometimes, when the moon is full or whatever, we’ll look out the window and she’s just tearing around the yard in circles. Then she’ll suddenly stop and look around, as if she had surprised herself. The lady clearly needs more exercise than she lets on.
  4. She is really excellent company while dining out. For all of her anxieties about social interactions, she is so calm and comfortable–for whatever reason!–dining out with us. We took her to her third restaurant this weekend, and she was great. More on that later.
  5. She’s grown very confident on our neighborhood walks. For the first few weeks, she wanted to go on walks with me, but she was slinking around most of the time, startled by most novel sounds, and keeping her tail and ears low or tucked. Now, she knows what’s going to happen when I say, “You wanna go on a WALK?” and she runs up to the front door and sits patiently (as she’s learned) for me to leash her. She is not as nervous and even seems more confident when we walk down entirely new streets.
  6. We’ve found her very high-value reward: Liver jerky. (At least, I think that’s what it is.) Our sweet neighbor Pat, who has four dogs of her own and also fosters adoptable dogs, gave us some liver to share with Pyrrha and, wow, she goes crazy for it. We’ve decided that it’s going to only come from Guion, since it’s a really great way for her to associate him with GREAT things. She follows him around the house for a good while after he gives her a bit. It’s very cute. And, yes, it might be bribery, but it’s working.
  7. She’s decided that she likes digging. This is kind of a bummer, since we have lots of pretty plants in our backyard. I caught her last night digging up one of our pepper plants. Since I caught her in the act, I could give her a quick verbal reprimand–which quickly stopped the digging–but we’ve found numerous little holes all around the yard since.

More to come, I am sure!

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7 thoughts on “Things we’ve learned about Pyrrha lately

  1. I just want to caution you about correcting her for growling. A growl is communication. She’s telling you that she’s uncomfortable, which gives you the opportunity to intervene to eliminate her discomfort/fear. When you correct for growling, what often happens is that the dog escalates to the next level of warning (potentially a bite) without the advance warning of a growl.

    Have you gotten a copy of Control Unleashed yet? I think it would really help with her issues.

  2. I second Nicole’s advice. Pyrrha needs to know you’re on her side, through all of the things that make her uncomfortable, even if her opinion of something changes due to sudden environmental contrast like pajama pants or it being morning.

  3. Well, your first two commenters already covered what I was nervous about, so I won’t keep hammering on that.

    Elka likes chasing moths as well, but she doesn’t catch them. Or doesn’t actually want to catch them! She’s only killed one once or twice, and it was clearly an accident.

    I’m glad that Pyrrha is both growing in confidence AND you learned what a gold standard treat is for her! These two things can work well in tandem ^^

  4. Her confidence is growing because of YOU! You must be getting the right balance of exposing her to new experiences and making her feel you will keep her safe. If you haven’t seen Suzanne Clothier’s two videos on you tube (I really wish she’d make more) I’d really recommend them, here’s a link to the calming a fearful dog one http://youtu.be/WJ8ugSSTNmM

  5. I also came here to mention that a growl is better than the alternative of an uncomfortable dog who doesn’t communicate that, but that’s already been covered, so let me say you’re not alone.

    My dog does this, too. If he is comfortable with someone the night before, he isn’t always happy to see him the next morning. I handle this by making sure I’m always there for the reintroduction – which is how I see this.

    There seems to be three stages of familiarity with my dog: stranger, friendly acquaintance, and friends. Friends can do anything: come to the front door, pop out of bedrooms unexpectedly, pretty much whatever at any time. Friendly acquaintances are generally fine once he gets past the initial shock that they are in the house again. And strangers, well, their interactions are closely supervised and given the rules: ignore the dog, there is no dog.

    It sounds to me like you had a night I would have with a friendly acquaintance. Ok with them the night before but a little startled and then scared when he finds out they are still in the house. Because of past experiences like yours, I expect this and manage it. But once the visitor becomes friend to the dog, this issue goes away, until the next stranger/friendly acquaintance visits.

  6. This is such a fun time to get to know each other.

    I was rereading Patricia McConnell’s Other Side of the Leash on the plane yesterday and she told a story about a St. Bernard who ran and hid when his person came in wearing a coat with a hood. He had never seen her in such an outfit and was scared witless. Your guess about the pajama bottoms might be right on target. Dogs don’t understand why people’s silhouettes changes so much due to clothing and fearful dogs have issues with such things.

    BTW, we call those running in circles sessions Zoomies. I think it’s a good stress-reliever for dogs and I take it as a sign to go play something fun.

    Sorry to hear about the digging. Honey does it sometimes too. We think it’s mostly a sign of boredom so, once again, we try to answer it with an activity. We’ve also known its caused by cats who use our garden as a litter box. Apparently the smell is irresistible.

  7. Poop in the hole, poop in the hole! I always found that a little bit of Bo’s poo, when placed in a dug hole, would prevent further digging. Happy frolicking with your lovely lass, dear friend! 🙂

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