Luna’s Life… A Dog and A Trainer 4/30/17
OK so first off life got crazy and well I forgot a weeks’ worth of blog…. So, this one will be a little longer than a regular one. There will be a Part 1 and Part 2. In the first part, we will go over all the new things that Luna and I have been doing to work on her fear and to get her up to speed on becoming Kiss Dog Training’s New Demo dog, and in the second part I am going to talk about plateaus and ceilings while training a fearful dog… So, with that let’s talk about the last 2 weeks!
First off, I am teaching group classes on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays right now and Luna is coming along to each class. She is simply observing the classes from her crate while she enjoys lots of treats and gets a least one Kong while she is observing…
She is doing great, she for the most part just observes and watches class. Which is great, we are normalizing being in a group class environment! But if someone comes into the class unexpectedly she will give her startle growl but with a watch me command and a few treats we seem to be able to get her back to normal and watching class. This has now been for two weeks so 6 classes and with each one she seems to be getting better!
Now we also, last week, started taking our own group class with Luna. I chose a trainer I knew and trusted. In fact, Mary has helped with both Lexi and Leo’s training and now we begin again for Ms. Luna. The first class was better than I expected, we had 7 dogs in class, each with at least one human! She was calm, growl free and was taking treats as well as doing the commands from our first class (lots of sits ????) Unfortunately our
second class was canceled due to our instructor getting sick… But as you can guess this trainer does not take no for an answer….
So, I went to PetSmart that evening and we went for an hour long walk among the distractions of store and you know what? She did every sit, every release word and took treats from my hand for the entire hour long session. Up till now PetSmart has been tough she would walk with me but was still too nervous to take food or for that matter listen to commands! So that was a huge breakthrough but there was one even bigger!!!
She encountered 3 different kids who let’s just say were not wanting to hear she was too anxious to say hello (parents please teach your kids to ask before trying to pet and to listen when told NO) But even with all the pulling away and struggling to get away there
was no growl or any other aggressive behavior. In fact, when I ask all 3 of the kids to take a treat and toss it to Luna, she ate the treat off the ground!!! Another huge step forward….
Of course, we also did two visits to the dog park and 4 more visits to doggy daycare and probably 4-5 walks around the neighborhood over the last two weeks. One of those walks was during my neighborhoods large item pickups which had us walking in and around of piles of old furniture and lawn equipment, not to mention all the folks out working in their yards!!! This dog trainer never misses an opportunity to socialize or see/encounter something new!
We also got Luna a yellow caution vest that says “In Training” and “Please Ask Before Petting” so that when she and I are out and working that people giver her the space needed to learn the world is safe and Dad will make sure that people only approach safely and slowly (and even with this the three kids still surprised and scared her)
So again, ask yourself if after 6-7 weeks with a dog would you still be doing this much work? Would you realize you are nowhere near done? Would you be planning classes 2, 3 and 4… Would you stick to doggy day care, dog park visits or daily field trips? Luna is making great progress but has yet to even start taking treats from strangers in any other environment but our home and that even takes significant time to accomplish…
This realization brings us to Part 2 of this blog Plateaus and Ceilings in training fearful dogs:
OK so as you train fearful dogs, you should expect to hit plateaus… Things will be going great and then bog down for days even weeks. In some cases, you will just hit a ceiling and things will just never get any better than that level or it might take months or years of work to see the next break through. Each dog is different and progress will be determined by two things, your consistency and frequency to the practice and techniques we are talking about here and even more important is the dog’s capacity to improve.
I bring this up due to the 6-7 weeks of improvements you have all been watching along with me and Luna… Not all dogs will be as easy as she has been and some might well even be easier than her!!! But some will definitely be harer… Unfortunately, there are no guarantees with dogs like this but remember that slow and steady wins the race… Every day I wonder where this journey will end with Ms. Luna? But I do know she has a way better chance with me than she did at the shelter or her previous home so together we go forward to see what tomorrow brings 🙂
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