So my mom got me a Flip video camera for Christmas. She figured it would be good for my business. And rightly so… only I haven’t used it for business yet. I’ve instead been videotaping my dog because she’s wicked cute. A couple of my friends have found the reason for some of my videos interesting so I thought I’d write about it here on the blog.

My dog Gidget is pretty mild mannered. But when I leave the house, she turns into a panicked barking machine.

I always assumed that she barked for 5 or 10 minutes, saw it wasn’t helping, and went to sleep. But assumptions are a dangerous thing and her habit seems to be getting worse lately.

To test my hypothesis, I decided to conduct a series of experiments using video. I focused the Flip camera on Gidget’s crate (hidden in a plant, she’s a bit camera shy) when I left the house.

Turns out 5 minutes of barking is actually more like 50. I also watched her anxious behavior on the first movie: chewing on parts of the crate, clawing at the door, etc. It actually seemed like she calmed down around 30 minutes and laid down but something out of eyeshot and earshot made her sit up and start barking again. *sigh* Sorry, neighbors! (Fortunately, no one has complained yet. Few!)

The next test was how she would react to being in the crate while I was still home. (Question: Was it the crate that bothered her or me leaving?) Other than periodic whining and panting, she seemed fine being in the crate when I was home. Guess that answers that!

To test the ‘she doesn’t need a crate theory’ some people had, I left Gidget loose in the house while I left for four hours. I even set her up for success, making sure all food was put away and garbage cans where secured or lifted off the floor. I was also low key when I left so as not to get her riled up.

When I got home, she had eaten through several business cards (that I saw evidence of), half a magazine, and a gas card. I clearly can’t leave her loose because 1) her anxiety is clearly me leaving and not the crate and 2) if I keep this up, I’ll lose all my business contacts.

While making a four hour voice recording of myself pretending to be home wasn’t feasible, playing my mp3 player while I was gone was. For a second round of video taping, I put Gidget in the crate with music playing. Then I snuck out of my own house, (which feels kind of ridiculous to do as an adult in broad daylight from your own house!). In this video, her barking starts much later, as it takes her awhile to realize I left. It’s also has a lower volume and frequency and if you have iMovie or some other video/audio software, you can measure the sound waves like I did.

This evening was my third and final video experiment  to see if, over the last week, Gidget’s crate behavior has improved. In this video, she stops barking around the 12 minute mark and intermittently barks the rest of the 50 minute video, much less frequently than the other two. Yay progress, even slow progress.

In other words, I’m a big nerd  who is probably overly concerned with the neighbors wanting to kill me while I crate train my dog but I have used these movies to see whether my dog training is working. The vet says this could take up to a year or a year and a half to crate train her since she was an adult when I got her. Eight months into the training though, I see thanks to Flip that I shouldn’t give up my efforts. Good thing she’s cute!

It’s fun to use technology for it’s not quite intended purpose once in awhile, don’t you think?