Monday, March 9, 2009

Fear aggressive foot warmer????

A friend of mine was passing through town Sunday and was able to stop in for lunch. I was so looking forward for a chance to get together with her, but I was also worried about Valentin's reaction to strangers/invaders. Valentin does not do well with other people, and certainly not when they "invade" his home (in addition to the constant barking, he can get this "wild" look in his eyes and may give some warning snaps if they move too fast or come too close to me). If I wasn't housing a cat in my basement, I would have put Valentin and Pogo downstairs before "L" arrived. I would have spent some time squashing the barking, but there would be zero chance of any incidents with Valentin safely contained downstairs. As the cat is there, this was not an option.

He did bark at "L", especially when she stood up and moved too quickly to suit Valentin

BUT !!!!

at one point "L" was curled up on the sofa with Pogo on her lap and Valentin curled up warming her feet!!!! Granted this was after she came into the house (while Valentin and the others were confined to the kitchen), got seated and was armed with treats; but that is certainly not a receipe for complete acceptance. At best, this approach will stop most of the barking and challenging. Valentin will usually lay beside me "on guard". Having our squirt water bottle in view, will keep the last of the barking in check.

Valentin had met "L" once before, at least 3 years ago, when we lived in another city and visited "L" in her home. This is amazing for Valentin to take so quickly to an "intruder" in his own home. She did comment that, when we had visited at her home 3+years ago, it was my Valentin who taught her golden foster (now her adopted dog) that it was ok to jump up on the sofa and snuggle with humans.

Valentin is fine with his doggie day care folks, and will give one of the girls there kisses. It took him some time to reach that comfort level and they are professional, more attuned to doggie body language and techniques to handle situations. He enjoyed his bath there on his birthday, but this is astounding, for him to curl up so happily with a relative stranger in his own territory; especially when he had the option of my lap as well. His normal position is on my lap "defending" me.

A lot had to do with "L's" comportment around Valentin. She is very animal savvy, did not engage him, let him approach her, did not react to his barking at her, etc. She was relaxed, so he was relaxed; but still, this is a wonderful advancement for Valentin. My sister is an animal lover as well, but Valentin is not as relaxed with her, even though we have stayed at my sister's house for several months. He is "ok" with her, but not completely relaxed.

I had been worried about Valentin and this visit (the doggie gate was at the ready to contain him in another room), but it was a relaxed time and so wonderful to see "L", even for the short time we had to spend together. We chatted and caught up with each other's lives and I actually forgot to watch Valentin at one point.

I have consulted a behaviourist regarding Valentin. He did well in his session with her. I will admit that with our move, the mill seizure, etc, we have fallen down on our part of the homework. I have found that the bigger issue is getting visitors to understand and use the techniques prescribed for him. We have had some disastrous failures when visitors either completely ignored my instructions, or had their own version of how to execute those instructions. "L" did a lot of those techniques naturally, without my saying anything.

Sunday afternoon was a wonderful oasis; a too short, but good catch up with "L" and new hope that I can have more visitors in my home and not have to bann Valentin to barking in the basement.

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