Mutt Muffs

Wearing Mutt Muffs for the first time outside.

Below is a description of my CC method. On March 10, 2017 I posted the results of the experiment.

March 4, 2017: I’m a little skeptical about this plan. And it takes such a long time to persuade Lyra to like (as opposed to simply tolerate) wearing anything that I confess I’ve not given these a try until now — 10 months after purchasing them! However, we are now at the stage where she will let me put them on, and will even catch a ball (and eat peanut butter with vigour) while wearing them. But as with most wearable objects, the challenge is to build duration.

Method: Initially, I pulled the muffs out from behind my back, and gave her a lick of peanut butter. Repeat many times. Then I held them close to her head (a tricky place for her), and let her lick peanut butter. Then I held them against her head. Ditto. I held the strap in place. Ditto. Then secured it and let her lick peanut butter constantly while the Muffs were on. We practised on/off quite a bit, as she finds the approach of any object towards her face (except a ball) difficult.

March 5, 2017: She’s made amazing progress is a short time. Today, I took her outside to see if we could play ball. This is essential. Our main “Defence against the Dark Trucks” (thank you J. K. Rowling) is a ball game. Apart from our one technical difficulty (the Mutt Muffs tend to slide off her head if she moves it quickly) she was able to play happily while wearing them. I think we’re very close to being able to test them with the actual trucks. Perhaps this coming Friday …

March 9, 2017: Today she played in the backyard and walked happily up and down the street. She was calm when a stranger passed us (in front of our house) which suggests that the Mutt Muffs don’t add a significant stress. In fact, she seems not to mind them at all!

border collie wearing ear muffs, sitting in front of a motorcycle

March 10, 2017: Today, we tested the Mutt Muffs with the real-life trigger: garbage trucks. I’ve no doubt that she had enough of a +CER to make the test valid. Sadly, my efforts at conditioning her to the Mutt Muffs were more successful than efforts to counter-condition her to the trucks. Details of the method and results are in the special post.