Saturday, July 28, 2007

Seeking Help

Island of Terror in a Slippery Sea
Since we were gone for a second ten day stretch, Pappy once again bought his one way ticket to the funny farm. As with last time, he has cultivated a phobia about crossing our slippery kitchen floor, and isn't willing to approach his food bowl lest he skid. Great, anorexia to boot. My last strategy of putting down a throw rug has hit the obstacle of my wife's vetoing the dusty old thing. She's been trying to use these adorable little dot rugs, but they always seem to be in the wrong place to alleviate his anxiety attacks.

In studying up on how to mend Pappy's fractured psyche, I googled "dog therapy". Of course all I got was all the wonderful articles about how fantastic pets are in assisting with human therapy. Bah! My dog is crying for help here. I tried "dog psychologist", but everything was about Cesar Millan. Not that I don't find him interesting, but is there anyone who seriously believes he isn't just making all that stuff up? "Blah, blah, you must walk your dog at least three hours before allowing him to enter a new home to acquaint him with the territory blah blah." What if I walk him for two and a half hours or let him in the house first? Will he never adjust? Can I see his data on that? He has his points, but the endless stream of authoritative pronouncements and pseudo-science keeps my eyes rolling.

If you dig around you can find a couple of niche pet therapists, but some of their sites are just plain creepy. With some of the more credible articles, it turns out that there notion of pet therapy is just training to get dogs to stop barking and peeing. I need a shrink to get into Pappy's head and peel away the layers of the onion. He needs some serious couch-work.

Psychiatrist's Couch


Flirt the Squirt said...

He'll get hungry. Just let him figure it out. He worries about the slippery floor. Have you trimmed his feet (the hair between his toes, so he'll have more traction.

Bala Thiagarajan said...

Hi, Thanks for stopping by! Amy definitely appreciates your sympathy. We do hope that you guy feels better soon, we do understand how hard it is when the kid doesn't feel good.

Take care,
Bala, Shankar, Amy, Nikko and Pepper.

3dogcache said...

flirt the squirt is correct...he'll get hungry. Or he'll want to go out back to play with his ball. Just squeak a ball and he'll come running. Hopefully, you haven't picked him up and carted him across the kitchen...

Enjoy, 3dogs

Asta said...

Pappy I'm sowwy I don't know how to help, but i'm too sad to think..have you heard about our sweet darling Oscar..I'm heawtbwoken
sad smoochie kisses

Pappy's Fella said...

My gosh, I just checked Oscar's blog. That's terribly sad, and plays on my worst fears. He was a good boy and had some great adventures.

Flirt and 3Dog,
I'm decidedly of the "he'll get hungry" school, and he eventually eats his food. I've been thinking about moisturizing his pads with bag balm or something to give him better traction, but then I'm not sure they'll be as tough.

Stiff upper lip. The humans will get bored of their computers and there will be more fun soon.

Roxie, Sammy and Andy said...

As much as we hate to say it, we actually watched an episode of Dog Whisperer where the dog was afraid to walk on the slippery floors. If we remember correctly, you should leash him and walk with him across the area (back and forth) until he realizes he's not going to fall down. Or, you can just wait until he is hungry enough.

Charlie said...

... or you could take the food to him. Perhaps on that comfy couch. Charlie thinks that's a fine idea.

Ferndoggle said...

Yep...Flirt is very right. He will get hungry. If he only has one option to get to his food, he'll figure it out.

Here's another thought (crazy dog trainer person interjecting)...Chicken, little bits of roast beef, his favorite tennis balls, cubes of cheese, etc...anything SUPER good he doesn't usually get. Scatter them on the scary floor, show Pappy where they are and then leave. Try to make it so he cannot come with you. The presence of a human watching is sometimes very stressful on the dog. Left up to his own devices...the floor may not be so scary.

Just a thought.


Finnegan said...

My aunt and uncle's poodle had the same issue and NEVER GOT OVER IT. He was a weird little dog though and I think Pappy is about one billion times more clever than the poodle.

Maybe you could line up his favorite treats on the floor into the center of the room, he would walk on the slippery floor without noticing b/c he's so consumed with the treats, and then once he is in the middle of the room, he will have to figure out how to get back on his own.

Finny & his Mama

Jackson said...

I like the dot rug obstacle course you've created. My stomach rules my head so I'll do anything for a lick of peanut butter! J x

Cubby said...

My sister Dakota seems to get a new phobia daily, but they never get in the way of her eating. Pappy must have real trouble!

Cedarfield said...

Well, I think there's probably a good reason that Pappy doesn't like walking on the slippery floor. He might have some pain in his hips that makes him reluctant to have his feet slip out from under him--even a little bit. Has he been evaluated for hip displasia/joint pain?

He may also have depth perception problems. Maybe he sees the floor as he would the gaps between the planks of a bridge high above the ground. It's always a good idea to rule out any physical problems before assuming it's a mental one.

But if everything checks out OK my approach would be to start out by making a solid "path" for him to walk on. Little by little I'd introduce small gaps in the path and gradually widen them until he can walk across the floor without fear.

And if that doesn't work, you could consult a behaviorist. After all, it's just the behavior that's a problem, right?

Good luck, anyway.

Amici said...

Seriously, you have some of the bed pictures. :) (And it helps that my Mom has a degree in Psychology). :P

Hopefully Pappy overcomes his new fears soon. Best of luck!

Amici said...

Error in my post....I meant to type BEST but I wrote bed instead....OOPS! My mom didn't preview the comment before I hit the publish button.....

You have the BEST pictures. :)

Pappy's Fella said...

Thanks everybody for your input. I think there are some very good options. At this point I have gotten my wife to cave on replacing the dusty old rug, and this has gone a long way towards settling him down. He hasn't been evaluated for hip displasia, but this is a dog that will routinely do 3-4 foot vertical leaps while playing ball and manhaul me on long runs without visible discomfort. I'll see what I can find out. The superdelicious treat method sort of works, but there is a lot of Hamlet anxsting that precedes his decision to go for it.

The one thing I really have to go on here is that this same issue came up the last time we were gone for an extended period, and it disappated over the ensuing week. I'm optimistic this will sort itself out.

Sophie Brador said...

Hey there, Are you sure Pappy isn't having trouble with his hips. I don't know how old he is, and maybe he's far too young, but I do know older dogs with hip problems who won't walk on hard wood because they lose their footing.

Another possibility is that he is protesting your design choices. Perhaps he thinks it's time to redecorate.

p.s. I am likely the old person on earth to have never walked Caesar Milan's show, but I do know all about him. I also know that Sophie has lived in 6 different houses in 8 years and never walked three hours through the neighbourhood before any of them. She should be a mess! What's wrong with her?

Pappy's Fella said...

Pappy's about 2 1/2 years old, so he's pretty spritely. He doesn't show any tenderness or sensitivity-- I've seen dogs who turn rapidly when petting or massaging different parts of their body, and Pappy never does this. He's incredibly, unrelentingly, tirelessly active and bouncy around a ball. I've asked the vet whether his walk is indicative of anything-- he has a heavy swing of his hindquarters in his stride, but part of that is his long waist and pigeon toed walk. He's just gawky. The vet didn't seem to think that this was problematic, and there's nothing in his behavior to discredit that.

As to Cesar Milan, don't mistake me. I'm a sort of a fan in a perverse way, and have seen all of the first season. I know exactly which show dealt with the dog with slippery floors. The technique he used is called flooding in psychological circles, and involves subjecting the "patient" to the unpleasant situation until they are desensitized to it. I'm not going to judge it since those owners seemed happy with the result, but there are some who consider that approach to be verging on abuse.

Buster the Wired Fox Terror said...

TTouch therapy is the best!

Bussie Kissies

Flirt the Squirt said...

Musher's Secret rather than Bag Balm or there is a product called Tough Paw that is used in the show ring when it is slippery to give dogs traction.


Pappy's Fella said...

He gets plenty of pat therapy, hope that's adequate.

I'm now on the lookout for tough paw and musher's secret. They sound like the stuff I had in mind. They had little balloon-like paw covers in the local store, but no traction treatments. On to online.