Gilda had a 'shut-down' incident last week while clicker training! This was highly unusual as Gilda loves to clicker train. I was working on an exercise for Treibball class and I think the clicker was too close to her face. Whatever scared her led her into a complete shut down in an instant. I haven't seen anything like it since we caravan-ed miles and miles in the snow last February!
After that, training was touchy. We went to our 3rd Treibball class last night (after Gilda had spent the entire day in dog daycare) and she stressed pretty early into the class...
HOWEVER, she was willing to lay on her mat and stay focused on me while the other dogs ran right on by her. I had her doing 'Look at that', 'watch me' and target stick 'touches'. If you had asked me a year ago, I would have told you that we'd never get to this point. It may sound simple but to me it's a milestone.
Today we traveled to Akron Children's to go visiting. I had time to walk both dogs today and they had a blast frolicking in the field on the way to the park.
Once into the park, the same old story emerged... barking and lunging at everyone and everything passing by. Gilda actually seems better but seem to alarm when Pico freaks out. At one point she put herself on my right as someone was walking towards us and only barked when Pico did.
A kind and patient gentleman with the help of his Yorkie Poo, Romeo and his Shih Poo, Tito, helped us greatly today! When I told him that both of my dogs were actually nice and dog-social and that I was just having trouble with them reacting on leash, he gathered his dogs and waited patiently while I backed up with mine. As we talked, I observed my dogs and stepped a little closer very slowly until all 4 dogs were standing on the path together acting like they have known each other for years. The whole process took about 15 minutes and I am forever grateful to my new dog friend Ed (who refers to himself as the 'ugly old guy'!).
I used lots of treats and praise during our encounter with Ed, Romeo and Tito and was feeling really proud of my dogs when we parted ways at the fork in the path. As we rounded the corner, 2 young guys were walking towards us and... all hell broke loose! This is going to take awhile...
After another romp across the field (I don't know how Pico survives the torturous rollings he endures as Gilda 'herds' him), I bathed both dogs and Gilda and I headed off to do our volunteer work.
As usual, people there are so impressed with her tricks and her attention to me. It really got me thinking about how far she has come and made me realize that I should focus on that rather than all of the things she hasn't yet accomplished. So here we go:
1. The little pup that wouldn't eat food for months now eagerly seeks out and performs for food.
2. The little pup who wouldn't walk on a leash for the first month now heels (okay maybe occasionally but we're working on it)
3. The little pup who was deathly afraid of all people is now a Pet Partners Certified Dog!
4. The young dog with zero dog social skills is now adept at giving calming signals, at diffusing bad dog situations, and will stand stock-still to let another dog sniff her (this is an awesome thing for all you non-doggers out there!)
5. The young dog with zero ability to focus can now sequence 7+ obstacles and can lay on her mat while other dogs run about.
These are solid accomplishments especially for a novice dog owner with no herding dog experience. It's always good to have things to work on right?
To the Moon Gilda & Pico!