Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Spooky, But Not Spooky

On Friday night I decided that I would work on some desensitization with Cisco. I had Pony Grandma whip me up a flag that I was planning to use in some way. She did an excellent job of making a big, bright yellow flag on a stick with no notice.

I loaded my pockets up with treats, grabbed my clicker and target and headed over to the arena with Cisco. The plan was to work mainly in the scary end, with the hope that the positive reinforcement would help to alleviate some of his worry in that area.

Cisco happily followed the target down the arena. A couple of times he circled away from me, but came right back to the target.  Once he stood with me, I decided to start working on the head down command.

Until it happened.

No, it wasn't the land shark this time.

It was the Killer Kitty.

There is a hole in the door at the end of the arena. And who decided to come through that hole in the door to terrorize the occupants of the arena? Jerry, the Terrifying Tabby.

Just look at the evil in that face.
Cisco gave one snort and flew down to the safe end of the arena. And then he trotted half-way back towards me. Killer Kitty was winding himself around my legs (obviously trying to trip me so that he could grab me by the jugular) so Cisco came to make sure I was okay. And when Killer Kitty walked away from me, Cisco chased him all the way down to the end. He showed him who's boss.

Cisco actually quite likes Jerry. He loves to nuzzle him, and Jerry is happy to be nuzzled. But that is in the barn. Kitties shouldn't suddenly appear through the wall.
Proof that kitties aren't always terrifying.

So, now the scary end was terrifying again. Sigh. We keep making progress down there, and then something scary shows up.

We made our way back down to the scary end. I had to let Cisco touch the target much more often that I had the first time so that he could be rewarded and be convinced it was okay down there. I did a few minutes of work, and when I ran out of treats in my pocket we moved onto the next thing to torture him with.

I grabbed the flag, but initially left him loose. Standing directly in front of him, I gently waved the flag around. And he stood still.  So I waved it around a bit faster. He flinched a couple of times, and looked to the side a couple of times, but stood still.

I started really waving that flag. So that it flapped and snapped. And he didn't move.

I hooked him up to a lead shank, and handed the flag to Pony Grandma. She enthusiastically flapped the flag, while I led him in a small circle around her. After a couple of circles each way, his head dropped and he sighed.

I took the flag back and awkwardly led him and tried to wave the flag over his back. No biggie.

So, according to Cisco, large, bright flappy pieces of fabric are nothing to get excited about. But kitties that appear through the wall? Totally evil.

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