A.J. Gets a Cone of Shame

August 24, 2013

A.J. got a cone of shame a couple of days ago. His foot started to heal nicely, but I couldn’t keep him from scratching his face. I had a horrible day that day. I went to do some volunteer work at a local organization, but it turned out to be a very frustrating, tiring, and unrewarding day. When I got home I was tired and frustrated, plus I was tired from waking up constantly the night before trying to keep A.J. from scratching the sore on his face. Because his foot was healing up so nicely I had left his sock off. When I got home I checked his face, and the scab was all scratched off and his face was a mess.

I called the vet’s office; I brought him in to get fitted for a cone. They’re much better than they used to be. The one they gave A.J. is quite a bit easier to get on and off than the ones I’d used on my last dog, and this one is transparent so he can see through it. A.J. had one small panic attack at the vet when they first put it on him, but he’s been remarkably good about the cone since then. It actually seems to calm him down a little. He sits nicely when I put it on. Since he’s been wearing it he’s been letting us sleep better, which has been great. The biggest problem he has with it is that he keeps ramming me in the back of the legs. He also occasionally tries to squeeze through places where the cone won’t fit, and he sometimes gets pretty insistent that he’s going to get through. I have to tell him to knock it off and go around.

AJ wearing a cone
A.J. wearing his “cone of shame.”
Unhappy AJ wearing cone
A.J. looking unhappy in his cone.

We had another training session yesterday. A.J. did really well. We did a little bit of work on getting him to stop being a freak on our walks. We got plenty of practice on that this morning. Mary, our trainer, advised me to stay far away from other dogs to keep A.J. from failing, but it really is practically impossible around here. This is how it went this morning:

We were walking down the street, and we saw a man with a dog. He was walking away from us, so we waited for him to gain some distance. A.J. sat, and I worked with him and gave him treats for being good and attentive. When the dog was far enough away, we started down that direction.  Then the man turned his dog around and started coming back towards us. We dodged down a side street, where we immediately saw another dog, this one unleashed. I worked with A.J. again, and he did all right. We tried to go back, but the first man was now coming towards us again. They were across the street, but this time they were just too close, A.J. erupted. We tried to go back the way we came, but there was another dog coming. So we turned around and followed the man with the dog at a great distance, then dodged down a side path into a neighborhood.

We came out of the neighborhood and tried to head home. A woman was jogging toward us with her dog. I got A.J. to sit, and I was actually able to reply to the woman when she greeted us with a cheerful “good morning.” A.J. did well with that one. Not great, but no eruption. When we got home there was an unleashed dog across the street. Fortunately that dog ignored us, and I was able to get A.J. to sit and pay attention to me, and we finally got home and into the house with no more eruptions.

So it was a rough morning. We had one incident in the evening. I thought he was far enough away not to erupt, but I didn’t catch him in time. The dog was pretty far away, but I had to drag A.J. back about 10 feet more to get him to calm down and pay attention.

On the bright side, he is paying attention to me a little quicker. Slow progress, but progress nonetheless.