Saturday, June 30, 2012

The New Look-At-That Game & HUGE Success!

Hi, guys!

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!

Behaviors exhibited:
  • 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!

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