So I just have to share this amazing leap forward Dolce made today...
When we set out on our 4.5 mile walk today, I decided to try something a little different with Dolce's reactivity. I also brought JoJo with me, and I think her calmness definitely helped contribute to the idea. Anyway, I tried doing "Look at that!" with every dog we saw, as soon as Dolce locked in on them. He got treats and praise and a little mini party until he was no longer interested or focused intently in the other dog. We would then continue forward until we passed the other dog (always head-on today), at which point another party would ensue, because we survived. While we were passing the other dog, I would just take audibly deep breaths (calming signal to Dolce). He picked up on my deep breaths instantly, and would relax with each inhale/exhale, but get a little amped in-between. When we survived (without a nasty reaction, mind) then woohoo Dolce, the genius, who was polite to strangers of his own species!
- mild whining
- quiet "talking"
- low, brief growl
- nervous excitement
- happy excitement
And wow! On our walk, we encountered about 12 different dogs. His reaction to each one got milder and milder. We even pulled over for a runner and her JRT (who was politely running on-leash in heel position), and I had Dolce do a "front." He got treats every time he looked at the dog as the dog passed us by (within 2 feet!) or if he chose to look at me, and he didn't give a single "bad" reaction! He acted happy, as though he wanted to go say hi! I was thrilled.
So yeah, this even worked in our apartment complex! Which has been the nemesis for him. Ex: We saw our neighbor with his an Italian greyhound, who I would LOVE Dolce to be playmates with. Using this method, for the first time, I got to at least say hi to the dog's owner!
I just wanted to thank all of you for your help, support, and contributions to this process. We're getting there!