Help me help Calypso like her winter coat again

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Help me help Calypso like her winter coat again

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Old 03-07-2013, 10:10 PM
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Help me help Calypso like her winter coat again

So Calypso was great about her winter coat through most of the winter. She doesn't seem to mind the cold, even when I can see her shivering, but the coat keeps at least some of her dry when the snow is higher than she is.

Two weeks ago, she was being a terror one evening when I absolutely could not emotionally or time-wise afford it. So I put on her Thundershirt. She calmed down, of course, but whimpered softly much of the evening.

Since then, she has run away every time I've gone to put the coat on her. She'll trot over if I'm holding it plus turkey. I feed her the turkey while I"m putting on the coat, then usually another couple pieces while she's wearing it.) Even then, though, she throws calming signals as she approaches, so I'm guessing it's not a matter of trying to get me to reach for the turkey.

How else can I help her like her coat again?

(Gosh, I wish I were willing to use the Thundershirt tonight. What a little brat.)
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Old 03-07-2013, 10:47 PM
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Try some counter-conditioning exercises. Choose a really high-value treat. Start with the coat on a chair, the ground, in your hand etc. Click and reward whenever she looks at it. When you've made progress there, step it up to marking and rewarding for any interaction with it, and just keep working your way up!
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Old 03-09-2013, 02:36 PM
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Thanks, Beret! We will try that this weekend. Hopefully the snow will be gone in a few more days and I can put away the coat until the fall, but I'd love to conquer this beforehand (and maybe even build back up to the Thundershirt!).
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Old 03-09-2013, 03:49 PM
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Good luck!

This is what I did when Garp decided he didn't like his harness (after using it for the treadmill--he HATES the treadmill and started associating the harness with that). It made a huge difference. It's all about changing the dog's associations with the object!
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Old 03-09-2013, 03:58 PM
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Sounds like the thundershirt was actually scary for her and perhaps put her in a state of shutdown?

You will have to start over again with the coat.
Leave it on the floor with some treats around and on it.
Once she is comfortable with it like that (not in your hand) and will happily eat treats off it, then you can build tiny steps of counter conditioning but you must go slowly. If she shows fear you are going too fast.

Be ready in your mind for this to take weeks to fix
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Old 03-09-2013, 07:07 PM
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Oh no! I bet you're right. The thought of a fear/shutdown reaction never even occurred to me; it was the night before my PhD oral exam and my mind was a zillion miles away in every different direction. Calypso was whining, barking, chewing, desperately needing to play, and I just couldn't afford it (needing to study more emotionally than actually learning anything new, at that point). So my options were basically Thundershirt or leave her pawing at her crate and go up to campus in 35 mph wind.

Fortunately, the oral is the end of quals in my program so Calypso has AS LONG AS SHE NEEDS to get used to the Thundershirt again! Not that my dissertation or teaching prep for my job are any joke, but I don't feel like the world will end if I interrupt those to play. :P

Gah, I feel so horrid about that night now.
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