Meet sweet and beautiful Rupert, a young Staffie who has gone through a difficult time because of a knee injury.
He had a luxating patella last year which meant numerous vet visits, long trips to specialists and being crate-confined for weeks while he recuperated.
Staffies can be prone to knee-cap conditions and, like many post-operative dogs, can struggle with being confined on 'bed rest' while they recuperate.
It isn't unusual for previously confident dogs to become uneasy around people after a long period of recuperation. They can become a bit socially uncertain after being isolated, but they can also develop a lack of trust with new people because of associations with vets, nurses and other vet staff.
It's a tough one for vet staff: they can be kind, gentle people who handle dogs well, but dogs often don't see them for any of the good times. They tend to see them for injections or if they're injured or unwell. Consequently, they often associate vet staff with pain and discomfort.
So many dogs who have long term, painful conditions that need medical intervention can develop uncertainty with unknown people.
ARE YOU OK?
What they're thinking is often:
Well, you look ok and I want to like you, but I'm just not sure if you're going to make me feel bad or not.
Some dogs can end up very distrustful of new people, especially if they're restrained on a lead, or in a vehicle where they feel they can't get away.
Rupert has begun to feel like this, so we're going to work in helping re-build his trust with new people.
He is happy with people if he can approach them in his own time - in fact he really likes them. Because we gave him over an hour before he approached me, by the end of the session he was sitting on my foot and having a back massage. Then he lay down next to me for a snooze. :)
He's a clever, special little dog who loved our session, despite his initial uncertainty of me. His mum managed him successfully very early on in the visit, showing some nice skill with clicker training. She was click-treating-for-calm as I moved closer to him. If you go to my Facebook page you can see a short clip of him looking at me calmly than looking back at her to be paid for staying calm and connecting with her.
I used a bit of impromptu Environmental enrichment in the form of an Amazon cardboard box which arrived during the session with his salmon oil in it! This was to create some Feel Good while being near me, without having to engage with me.
His owners handled him very well - he adores them and loved playing Ping Pong Puppy to increase his connection with them.
CLICKING FOR CALM
By the end of the session we had a calm boy, who even managed to refer to me instead of being overly-interested in the resident hedgehog. Holly came out to sit on the sofa and Rupert became a bit pushy with her, but could control himself enough to look at me for Click-treats-for-leaving.
He's a great little dog - and rather handsome, as you can see.
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