Friday, May 22, 2009

Back to Nature

I'm hoping that this is what Marge needed the most: trips back to the park, the places that helped her last year when she was at rock bottom in terms of fear.

We took a trip to the lovely and very-green Clove Lakes today and had a great time. There was just the right amount of traffic for Marge to feel comfortable and for me to train, too. A few dogs passed us (and some owners seemed to be oblivious to the fact that I was actively training and not seeking any leash greets - thankfully we escaped them) and Marge was fine. The ONLY time I found it hard to get her attention was with a small dog - maybe a Papillon mix - on a Flexi leash, bouncing all over out of puppy joy. She didn't look like she was getting ready to lunge.. in fact, I think she wanted to go over and sniff/play. But I, unfortunately for her, inhibited this greeting. No new dogs right now - and I'm making sure I stick to it.

She was fine with passing people, too. There was a large and obnoxious group of teenagers around, and while she did wonder what they heck they were doinga couple of times, she didn't outright panic. She was calm enough to sniff, eat or pee on things (depending on how edible the item was) and chase the ducks. She saw bikes, strollers, people on benches, fishermen and joggers, and seemed fine with all of them.

After some walking along the main paths, we took a trip up to the pathetic city version of the "mountains" - ie., the quietest part of the park. I figure she'd enjoy it, and I wouldn't have to worry about heeling and watch me's and we could all just RELAX. Well, she did enjoy it, and I think it was a great way to end the day.

What's the weekend have in store? Not really sure yet. I'm spending the day with Louie tomorrow, so if it's not too hot maybe Marge can use her puppy charm to entice him to go walking with us down by the beach. If not, it'll be another quiet day, with some Miller Field walks and backyard agility sessions. (Did I mention how unbelievably willing Marge was to work on agility today, despite the heat? She is doing GREAT with 2-jump sequences.)

Sunday is Rally Week 2. I have spoken with the instructor and we have basically formulated a plan for Marge. I will have my own little corner of the room, hopefully, where I can distract Marge and keep her away from other dogs. She will NOT interact and I will reward her for looking at other dogs calmly. I will NOT leave her with my mom or anyone else to go walk the practice course before hand; I think it's important I stay with her right now. If this week proves to be as bad as last even with all of these precautions, Marge might go on a bit of a hiatus from Rally and I will attend class alone. This way, it won't be a complete "waste" (bad word) of money and I won't be jeopardizing my dog's behavior training. The stuff is simple enough that I can train her myself at home.

I'm going to try not to worry, bring the yummiest treats on the planet (hot dogs and cheese) and see how it goes. Even if we get nothing done from an Obedience point of view, I will be happy if we get through the day bark/snark/growl free and with some level of comfort.

2 comments:

Pedro May 23, 2009 at 5:39 AM  

Marge,

Thanks for stopping by. It has been a long time. My mom has been working 6 days a week and hasn't had time to help me writ or visit other blogs. I did some catching up on your blog. Sounds like you are one lucky dawg to have found your forever home with your mom. She is so devoted to you. Give her some extra licks and tail wags today! I signed up as a follower on your blog so I know when you have a new post up. Enjoy Memorial Weekend!

Pedro

Sue May 23, 2009 at 8:25 AM  

It sounds like you're on the right track and making progress. It gets frustrating, I know, but at this point she needs to take baby steps and sometimes a step backwards. Stay patient, it takes a long time and lots of gentle work to get an abused dog past the fear.

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