Alvin sticks out his tongue when he is nervous

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

He's Already Full of Surprises

After what can only be described as a heart breaking night listening to Alvin in distress, I thought I would try using treats as a means of getting close to Alvin and helping his associate human contact with something nice.  I brought out the "treats" (his own kibble) and he went into a near frenzy.  He had already had breakfast and so I know he wasn't hungry but he became absolutely fixated on the treats and was tripping into and over things because he wouldn't take his eyes off the treat but he had the compulsion to loop and trot.  The up side was that he lost nearly all fear but his reaction seemed off, for lack of a better term.  I realized that I could get him to do just about anything because he was so distracted, but the frenzied state he was in didn't seem like something I should encourage in the long run.  Before abandoning the approach, I propped a box against the couch and put kibble on the couch and he jumped up on the box and then the couch and all was great until he was done with the kibble and looked around at where he was and then he was back on the floor looping into oblivion.  Alvin is downright pushy for treats, or any food for that matter, but it is very clear that Alvin could develop some rude behaviors and so we have to abandon the treat approach.  While he was being so fearless, yet so rude in his pursuit of treats I could envision what I could easily turn him into.  I could easily create a spoiled, pushy brat and it reminds me of over-indulgent parents of a special needs child and the child turns into a demanding, rude child.  I am so proud of Alvin when he is fearless and I see that he is developmentally and emotionally behind dogs his age but I can't turn my special needs boy into a bossy, rude dog, no matter how tempting.

Through this process I noticed that Alvin cannot take treats by hand in the way other dogs can.  He seems unable to figure out how to take it from my fingers and so I ended up placing them on a surface in front of him.  He exhibits odd mouth behavior in that he will go to everything in a room and sniff it thoroughly and then take what appears to be his upper lip and the lower part of his nose and push repeatedly on each object.  He has also done this to my legs and my mom's legs.  I don't know what the pushing is but he repeats it quite a lot.  He also often has the tip (or more) of his tongue out.  I think he should go to the vet to rule out any mouth problems but I suspect that it is a developmental issue.  We are starting with raw hides to help assess whether he has any pain in his mouth or teeth and to help him practice chewing and using his mouth in various positions.  He likes them very much but he has difficulty figuring out how to hold it and chew on it at the same time.  Luckily I have been able to use this as an opportunity to get close to him because he will let me sit on the floor with him and hold the rawhide while he chews. 

I often find myself just staring at him, or more like staring back at him because if there ever was a staring contest Alvin would win hands down.  But I find myself searching him for answers to all this odd behavior.  So often we see behavior in a dog and surmise what his/her past may have been and who knows how often we are correct but there tends to be a general idea of which behaviors are a result of particular traumas or experiences, whereas with Alvin it seems like a complete mystery.  Is he autistic?  Is he OCD?  I don't know but I do know that this poor baby is exhausted because he still hasn't slept.

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