Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Anica - Going Into Week Two

Heading into week two and I'm starting to think my concerns about placing Anica in a home with cats may have been overblown. She does have terrier instincts (loves to chase balls, goes after the bunny fur tug, etc.), but she's also really gentle and easy to dissuade, so probably even a novice owner wouldn't have much trouble getting her to live safely with cats. I still wouldn't recommend her for an extremely skittish cat, but any normal feline should be fine.

Here are a couple of videos of her playing with Dog Mob on top of our parking garage. This is a fair representation of her play style, which shows a good degree of social skills and adaptability: she'll play chase as either the chaser or the chasee, she initiates play with both dogs and responds to their social cues, she's able to break off play in the second clip after Crooky rolls her roughly on the concrete around 0:19-0:21 instead of getting overaroused or responding with snaps/barks (which I read as a good sign, since it indicates to me that Anica is likely to respond to accidental rough treatment by trying to move away and get some breathing space -- a promising sign for placement with kids, provided the parents know how to read and respect her space-seeking behavior).

After a while they found a cicada. Pongu promptly dismissed it as pointless, Crookytail was initially fascinated but then sad because he thought he killed it with a paw swipe (he didn't, but he has a long and celebrated history of accidentally going Lenny on his little bug friends, so this was not an unreasonable assumption on his part), and Anica did... well, Anica did this:

Eventually she moved into Terrier-and-Rattlesnake Mode and started darting in to bite at the cicada, and after about another two-three minutes she finally killed the poor buzzy bug. (RIP parking garage cicada; you spent years as a blind buried larva dreaming of the sky, only to wind up as a dog toy for those clowns. Truly, life is filled with tragedy.)

Anyway what's interesting about Anica's behavior with the cicada was that she's obviously interested in it, but (I didn't tape this part, it was what happened after the video clip) she was perfectly capable of focusing on me and doing Sits even with the bug buzzing around behind her, and after she already knew that it was a Fascinating Plaything. If I had wanted her to leave the cicada alone, it would have taken no more than a couple of mild verbal "nopes" and redirection to another activity (playing with Crooky, working with me, even just walking away). Since I am a cruel and heartless person and didn't care if she ate the cicada, I let her have it, but it was heartening to see how easily she could be convinced to leave it alone.

So, again, based on that I'm thinking that she should be fine living in most households with most cats.

Other than that her training is going fine. Anica is shameless about mugging random people on the street for attention (she really wants to find a home), and I let her do that to a certain extent because who knows, maybe one of those people will happen to be looking for a dog (it's happened before!), but mostly I try to discourage that behavior because it's impolite and sometimes people encourage Anica to jump on them, which I very much don't want her to develop as a habit.

No potty accidents since last week. She's holding it through most of a workday at this point and is reliably pottying outside. Anica had a little bit of diarrhea yesterday (probably my fault for letting her join in the deck-grilling hamburger festival with Dog Mob) and was consistent about telling us via persistent squeaking when she needed to go outside, so that's a good development.

I'll post a training session with the next update. We're still reinforcing Sits on verbal cues (behavior is consistent but response time is slow, so I want to build up her confidence and reduce that delay before moving on to a new behavior) and working on introducing gradual distractions. I haven't done as much clicker shaping work as I'd hoped to, since potty training took priority last week and I've been too busy to do a whole lot beyond that, but it's next up on the list once we get those Sits a little more solid.

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