Ducky’s Training Adventures

This past week has been one training adventure after another for my little stinker. It all started on Tuesday afternoon when my good friend, Sabine, came by to help me with Ducky’s people issues. The little demon dog’s fear response is usually “fight” when it comes to anyone but the folks at daycare if I’m around, or even hubby. (Unless I happen to be holding her and telling her convincingly “Mommy’s got this”.)  

Knowing she might try to bite my friend, I kept her on the leash at a safe distance for a few minutes. We all crossed the road and headed to the shade of the smaller ball field to work. Sabine walked ahead of us so Ducky wouldn’t feel threatened by her. By the time we had crossed the road and gotten to the near edge of the parking lot, Ducky had calmed down. No snarling, barking, lunging. No snarkiness at all. So, I passed the leash to Sabine and let her lead the way. Ducky walked perfectly calmly the whole way to the back of the small ball field.

Sorry, I don’t have a video of this part. I was completely focused on Ducky’s comfort level around Sabine, a complete stranger to her up to that day.

I let Sabine work with Ducky — with the slip lead — to get her to heel nicely, to follow her lead and look for guidance, and not pull or pay attention to the main distraction (me).  She tried to buck and complain a little in the beginning, but overall she did great. Then I took the lead from Sabine and Ducky did great, better than I did myself at first. The emotional aspect of working with my own dog kept me making little mistakes at first, but I did eventually get the hang of putting those feelings aside. I know that the more I work with Ducky, the better we’ll both get. Eventually, she won’t feel like she has to “protect” both of us.  

So, after about half an hour up at the ball field, we came back to the house where Ducky was about to be introduced to the treadmill. I can tell you that before Tuesday, what you see in this photo would never have happened. Especially inside the house.


Sabine picked up the leash handle, walked Ducky to the back edge of the treadmill, and calmly (and unemotionally) said “Up.” And up the little brat went. And she stayed there until Sabine released her. All three times. Then we turned the evil thing on. Panic attacks. But she let Sabine guide her gently but firmly through the panic. She focused on moving, going through a few more short panic attacks, and then focused on me when I knelt down at the front of the treadmill to give her some reassurance. After five minutes we pressed the stop button. And we released her when she was calm enough. Then exuberant praise.

Here’s the video.  

On Wednesday Ducky spent the day at daycare with her friends, canine and human, while her sisters spent the day with their Auntie Andrea and hubby and I cleaned the house. So I didn’t do any treadmill training with her that day. But yesterday, despite a few panic attacks and my emotional responses she did a good job.

This morning we both did great, and I was soooooo proud of her!! We’ll keep working at it and eventually she’ll stop thinking of the treadmill as an evil monster. And we’ll keep working on her confidence around people, too. She might always be shy/fearful of people and leash reactive to a point, but that’s okay. I know the more we work on it, the better she’ll do.


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24 thoughts on “Ducky’s Training Adventures

  1. Pamela says:

    Good girl, Ducky. This is huge!

    Who knows what wonderful people she may be able to meet someday.

    Curious, what’s your reason for using the treadmill. Is this to give you another tool in your arsenal for tiring your high-energy girl out? Or is it something else?

    • My Golden Life says:

      Yes, to tire her out (especially on rainy days when we can’t play outside); but also to build her confidence with things she’s not sure about. She has never been too sure about the evil monster in the corner of the room downstairs. I usually have it folded up rather than ready to use.

  2. Emmadog says:

    Sounds like you have been putting in a lot of work on different issues and it is starting to pay off. We taught Bailie to walk on the treadmill because of a video shoot she was hired for and it was easier than we anticipated. We always walk and run outside so no need for treadmill training.

    • My Golden Life says:

      I wish we could walk on our own road, but people around here drive like idiots. I won’t even walk on our road without the dogs, never mind with them. And our yard becomes a giant mud pond whenever it rains, making it very difficult to do much more than nature’s business. So, I have to find ways to give my girls their exercise and play time inside on nasty days.

  3. Cascadian Nomads Bethany Clochard says:

    I love when hard work training finally pays off! I wonder what my boys would think of the treadmill? I have read a few articles recently about life long desensitization training and how important it is to keep building a dogs confidence as well as preparing them for anything. It’s hard enough on a dog to have penned up energy or need physical therapy and then need them to learn to use a scary machine! I am so glad Ducky’s training is tread-milling along. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Jan K says:

    Wow, Ducky is doing great! That’s a lot, a new person and the treadmill too. Good for you too for working so hard with her…it’s obviously paying off.

  5. Tails Around the Ranch says:

    Not to make light of legitimate issues, but it is reassuring to me that other dogs act out with their mommies too (do they know how to make us look and feel bad…oh yeah). That said, looks like Ducky is getting her confidence up and running and in no time will be quite the treadmill champ. Well done!

  6. Jodi says:

    Poor little gal, but it’s good she’s getting use to it. Sampson had no choice when he tore his ACL but luckily his treadmill was an underwater one and I think that made it easier for him.

    • My Golden Life says:

      Ducky has been getting much better about getting on the treadmill and staying calm while on it. And, as soon as I get the tread in motion (at about 1.0-1.2 mph) she walks like a pro. Very focused on the task at hand. When I stop it, she keeps moving with the tread as it slows down and stops when it stops. Then looks to me for the okay to step off of it.

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