Tasha was very insecure – she had extreme separation anxiety and thunder anxiety, she had vehicle anxiety, she lunged at and chased bicycles…
On the behavioral scale Tasha was in the high intensity zone
On a scale of 1 to 10, Tasha was a ‘5’
A Little About Tasha’s Heritage – the Australian Shepherd
The Australian Shepherd did not originate in Australia – as the name would seem to indicate. The Australian Shepherd breed
was developed in the USA. The ancestor of the Australian Shepherd was the Spanish Shepherd, a breed that originated in the Basque region of France and Spain. The Spanish Shepherd made its way to Australia in the company of Marino sheepherders and their sheep. The Spanish Shepherd was then interbred with Australian Dingoes. The resulting mix-breed dog was first imported to California in the 1800s where it was named the Australian Shepherd.
The Australian Shepherd (Aussie) is a very active and agile breed characterized by great strength and stamina. The Aussie requires daily exercise if not working. Although the Aussie is used extensively on farms as a working dog, this breed can also be an excellent companion animal. They are active, intelligent, loyal, affectionate, courageous, playful, obedient, sensitive and adaptable. These attributes make them excellent candidates for search and rescue work as well as herding).
Tasha is the offspring of two Australian Shepherds from a local area farm. Tasha is a very loving, happy, affectionate, sensitive girl. Tasha loves to groom other animals – dogs, cats and bunnies. Carmen the Chihuahua often seeks Tasha out so he can receive a thorough grooming.
When Abby and Tasha first met it was like fire and ice. Tasha is very submissive by nature and Abby is not. Abby’s approach to Tasha was aggressively dominating – especially when outside on off-leash time. Abby terrorized Tasha. Abby arrived in my dog pack with a habit of aggressively dominating other female dogs. Abby tried to carry this behavior into her relationship with Tasha. Tasha, an already insecure dog did not have the confidence or the experience to know how to stand-up to Abby. Two insecure-reactive dogs should never be left to mitigate this type of behavior between themselves. The dogs’ human should be providing the mentoring in such situations. In time with patience and proper direction Abby and Tasha adjusted to each other and learned to treat each other with respect. They can be trusted to be together with others and on their own.
Chasing and Lunging at Bicycles, Cars and Vacuum Cleaners
Tasha was very anxious walking anywhere near passing traffic. Tasha had to be taught to normalize the passing of skateboards, bicycles, buses, cars, trucks and motorcycles. Tasha’s impulse to bark at and chase all forms of two-wheeled and four-wheeled vehicles – passive powered and motor powered was a serious risk to her safety. These days Tasha is perfectly content walking along the road with vehicles passing in both directions – she does not react to motor vehicle or passive powered vehicle traffic.
Tasha was very afraid of vacuum cleaners. Tasha would bark at, lunge at and attack the vacuum cleaner with great gusto – Tasha was afraid. Tasha has learned to completely normalize the sound and movement of vacuum cleaners. In fact vacuum cleaners are so ‘normal’ in Tasha’s mind that she does not bat an eye at the passing of the vacuum cleaner.
When it came to being in a moving vehicle, particularly in heavy traffic, Tasha became very anxious – Tasha had vehicle
anxiety. Tasha would tremble and shake and try to climb under the vehicle’s seats. Tasha was happy to get in the vehicle, happy to be going out, happy to be out on a drive until heavy traffic was flowing by.
Sometimes, when a dog is nervous in a vehicle, just confining them to the back seat is enough to calm them. However, Tasha’s anxiety was severe. Tasha was comfortable with being crated, so I tried crating her in the car. After a short period of time, riding in the vehicle while crated, she had more confidence and was able to relax when we encountered heavy traffic. Tasha was soon able to forgo the crate and enjoy being in the vehicle.
Tasha had an acute case of separation anxiety. She completely destroyed a couch and sofa among other things. In order to cure Tasha of this issue, she needed to be crated when I was out for any length of time.
Tasha needed structure and guidance to build her confidence. While I worked with her to build her confidence I also gradually increased the amount of time she spent not crated, while I was out. As Tasha gained more confidence, her anxiety dissipated and she could be trusted for longer periods of time. Eventually, Tasha no longer required crating.
During the first thunderstorm after Abby arrived I found out that Abby had extreme thunder anxiety. At that time Tasha was still in the early stages of gaining confidence and was easily effected by insecure behavior. During that first storm Tasha picked-up Abby’s extreme fear of thunderstorms. I had then had two dogs to rehabilitate from fear of thunderstorms.
A Great Love of Food
Australian Shepherds are known to drink allot of water – more so than many other breeds, so make sure you always have lots of fresh water available for your Aussie.
The day Tasha was spayed, she spent the evening passed out on the coach, where she continually verbalized her discomfort by moaning and groaning. The only time Tasha was quite was when she was offered food. Each and every time Tasha was offered food, the room was suddenly quite, no expressions of discomfort. The next day Tasha was back to her bubbly self. I’m not unsympathetic – but Tasha’s expressions did provide me with light moments during this time of ‘well controlled’ concern.