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Getting inside
emmabcdog
This is my Roxie, also known as Budge.
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Roxie was thought to be one or two years old when we got her from the shelter, and she's been an essential part of the family now for 14 years.  So yes, she's officially an old lady with all the accorded rights and privileges, one of which is the right to do whatever the hell she wants.  She wants to stand on the coffee table, okay.  Doesn't matter.  She's senile, loopier than guano and we love her.

Now along with that thinking, I have for a good while now given Roxie her space.  She would take loooong naps and seemingly wanted to be left alone to enjoy the reveries of her dreams.  Which is not to say I ignored her, because that is most certainly not true.  I suppose I thought I wasn't interrupting her, more like accommodating her.

But after reading some studies on human cognitive dissonance a couple of months ago, I decided to try an experiment with Roxie.  I did not let her isolate herself, did not let her sleep for long periods of time, made her suffer through repeated bouts of hugging, woke her up every time I passed by, held her face while I said her name....  I was in her face all the time.

She was so annoyed. 

And then she slowly started coming around and began to enjoy the extra attention.  And amazingly, she began to perk up -- I started to see behaviors that I hadn't seen in a long time.  She began to come to the door when I came home from being gone somewhere.  The other day, she actually BOUNCED into the kitchen and licked my face hello.  She's enjoying being petted, and she doesn't seclude herself in another room any more, wanting to be where everyone else is.  She started sleeping next to my side of the bed again instead of staying by herself in the living room at night.  And yesterday, she hopped into the bed after realizing I was awake and plopped herself down next to me with her head on the pillow so she could look at me, just like she used to do years ago.  I wanted to cry.

But I just petted her and told her what a good dog she is.  And she wagged her tail.

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That's wonderful! And it makes sense that more interactions would stimulate pathways that have gotten a little rusty. Another cool thing to do with the oldsters is some Nosework. It seems to help stimulate them and it's something they can still do as well as they ever could.

It would be interesting to try with Roxie -- maybe she's not too old to learn. I'll have to search the web for some resources we can do on our own, since there's nobody who does nosework around here. Maybe you can recommend a good starting point?

I hear they are selling the new DVD on Dogwise starting Monday morning. I haven't heard but I think it's about how to get started. You can also check the website www.k9nosework.com for a seminar in your area or possibly look into finding someone willing to host a seminar. And there is also an instructor locator just in case there's someone in your area you haven't heard about.
There is another DVD put out by the Leerburg folks on Nosework but I think his methods aren't very user friendly for the average dog and handler and especially not one like your Roxie. The NACSW people use purely positive and gentle training techniques that are suitable for all dogs not just the high drive Malinois. So I'd see if I could get my hands on the DVD. Nosework isn't rocket science and since you're doing it for the purposes of enriching your dogs environment and stimulating her mental processes, anything you do that resembles fun Nosework games would be good.
Oh,mthere's also a bunch of books on Dogwise that have scentwork game ideas you can play at home or in the yard. The one I bought was called Smellorama by Viviane Theby and that has a bunch of fun games to play.
Good luck! let me know how it goes!

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