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!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

JoJo's ear cleaning day was massively successful!

So, about once a month, I clean JoJo's ears.  Her ears have always been HORRIBLE.  Filled with dried up, black gunk.  Finally, today, we got to have a cooperative session involving the sacrifice of many Q-tips and cotton balls.  I poured the ear solution into her ear while she was lying in the sun.  She let that soak in without fuss.  I then used Q-tips to carefully swirl the gunk up and out of her ear.  Not realizing how wonderful she'd be today, I didn't bother to get a before photo.  So I found this one online:
It was kinda like that, only greyhound-y.

So, here's the gunk that was removed out of both ears...

And here's the after photos!
right ear
left ear

Whew!  I'm so glad that's over.  She was such a trooper.  I think she knew she had to hold still for this to work, and she just cooperated!  It was wonderful to finally get all that gunk out for good.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Dolce's MAJOR Breakthrough & Intro to Agility...

I am still brimming with pride after today.  Cloud 9 is a beautiful place to be.

Now, I have to keep in mind, Dolce is not cured.  Not by a long shot.  He still gets upset by strange dogs, and will bark, growl, and lunge with the best of them.  But we're so close...

Rick and I went to Summerfest in Fountain Valley, California this afternoon.  They had a fantastic Disc 2 Dog demo/clinic.  I have to say, that was by far my favorite event to be a spectator of.  (It has also cured my curiosity for the breed of dog I'd like next, border collie or Aussie shepherd... Definitely border collie FTW!  No question.)  I got some great ideas for getting Dolce into frisbee, and it's totally on our agenda!  Intelligent Agility had a course all set up, and allowed visitors to give it all a go, regardless of their training, for FREE.

So, FINALLY, Dolce had an intro to the obstacles of agility!  We did some jumps (which were a piece of cake, especially for how low they were), conquered the tunnel with some coaxing via hotdogs, and climbed the A-Frame no problem!  Erin (founder of Intelligent Agility) said Dolce's natural jumping style was very pretty,  we were welcome in her classes as soon as we finished his rehab. :) I informed her that she hadn't seen the last of us.  It's nice to know where we'll be taking classes and getting to know the wonderful trainer in advance.

The best part, there were hundreds of strange dogs of all shapes and sizes there for this event.  He only had a few minor outbursts, nothing major, and in general, was easily redirected with chicken, treats, and especially hotdogs.  He even had excellent, border collie-like focus on-course for our hotdogs, and ignored the dozens of human and canine spectators.  He remembered all of his obedience commands, performed them immediately, and didn't go looking elsewhere for mischief.  I couldn't be happier with his attitude for this kind of work.

Afterward, Dolce was even social with several of the guys who were part of the tear-down crew.  He approached them, readily accepted pets, and only showed mild forms of apprehension when the men initially leaned down to pet him.

Sigh.  He's so talented.  I'm so excited.  I'm impatient for this dog-reactivity thing to be history so we can get on with the fun stuff!