Last night Jun and I started a reactive dog class. She has done really well in Nosework for the past two weeks--very relaxed and happy--and this week even walked by two standing people on our way out without so much as a sideways glance. I was a little nervous about starting this new class, but turns out I had nothing to worry about. It is perfect for her and she did so well!
While there are only a few people in Jun's new class it is different from nosework in that they don't necessarily sit still all the time. But I went in with a plan to treat it very much like nosework. Mainly, I was not going to do any overt behavior modification. No LAT. No auto-watches. I think she has a negative CER to these techniques since we have never really been able to work them sub-threshold. She would be free to look at people at much as she needed to, but I would only reward when she was engaged with me and calm. We would start with crate relaxation, just like nosework and then see where it went from there.
She relaxed very nicely in her crate. While there are other people around,our spot in the building is shaped in such a way that we are able to keep them completely out of view if we want to. When she was relaxed I brought her out into our little private corner and we worked on a Nina Ottoson puzzle. In typical Jun fashion, she approached it with brute force, but thought it was pretty fun! It kept her occupied and took her focus off the other people who she knew were there even though she could not see them. After that we did some walking around in our area. There was some agility equipment and other things to sniff and explore. I didn't ask anything of her, just kept the leash loose and rewarded when she was calmly looking at me. We were out where we could see a person and she showed some slight nervousness and offered a few autowatches, but I just backed her up a little and then rewarded calm attention. After a few minutes it was back in the crate for some more relaxation before she got too overwhelmed. The next time I brought her out we worked Its Yer Choice, which was also very effective in keeping her mind occupied. We also took another little walk around our area and this time she was very calm. I did not ask for any obedience behaviors but just rewarded what she offered.
This is the first time since starting to work on her issues that Jun has been completely calm working in the proximity of people! Granted we are taking it VERY slow, but we are not doing any overt b-mod so she is basically just learning on her own that people around can be an ok thing and that nobody will ever touch her.