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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