Layla and her Behavior Training
First Layla had a battle with demodex mange, which required several visits where one of the doctors would scrape her skin to get a sample to examine under the microscope. Once she was cleared of the demodex, her next visit was her 1 year check up. She came to the office for all the normal 1 year things, a second rabies vaccine, a blood test to check for tick borne and heartworm diseases, and some other lifestyle vaccines. Later that evening we received a call from Dr. Soutter that Layla had tested positive for heartworm! This required another 4 visits to the office. With each visit to the vet Layla would come in wearing her muzzle, she would still growl at the vet, and sometimes resist being touched; sometimes she would have to be brought out of the exam room and into the treatment area, and I was always told that she did behave herself. Once I started working at Manchester Veterinary Clinic, I would bring Layla to spend the day with me, so she could have lots of happy visits. She would visit the doctors in their offices and sometimes even get little pieces of their lunches. When she had any exams, she got better and better about being handled; no more growling, rarely lifting her lip, and now she can even go without her muzzle at times, depending on what she is having done. The thing she still struggles with is any full body holding where she feels she has no control and having her nails cut. Most recently when she needed to have an x-ray where she had to lay on her side, and she was very upset by this, but even after that she still gets excited to go to work.
|One thing she has always enjoyed has been going to obedience school. We have done many classes at Tails U Win, Puppy Kindergarten, Family Dog II, a retrieving class, and a trick class. She has excelled at all of them; it is so great watching her try to work out what we are asking her to do and then doing it with excitement. You can almost see her brain working and her thought process. She is always willing to show her tricks off to people; I think it has really helped her to bond with people and make her realize that we are not going to hurt her. Now that she is 4 years old, she has become so much more loving and trusting of people, especially those in her household. She will willingly come to us for cuddles, and will accept them without a fight when she is not looking to be cuddled. I remember one time after one of Layla’s classes where she came and sat on the couch next to me and just laid her head on my shoulder and just sat there like that for the longest time. It was like she was thanking me for her class, and letting me know how happy she was. Because she is so willing to learn and nail trims are such a struggle for her we have actually taught her to use a scratchboard to file down her nails herself. It is one of her favorite things to do and absolutely no stress for her! One of her most favorite places to lay now is under my computer desk, but I do not think it is so that we can’t reach her - now I think it is so that she is close to whomever is on the computer at that time. I know that continuing to build trust, especially around people she is not familiar with, will be a life long learning process for Layla and our family, but she has come so very far from how she was as a puppy.|