Friday, March 30, 2012

Elo's No Longer an A**hole!!

Wow, I am SO glad I decided to enroll Elo in Changing Attitudes. The class has been absolutely perfect for him (largely due to the instructor's flexibility in letting me adapt the exercises to his needs) and he has made incredible progress in 6 weeks! The first night of class was rough, with all the other dogs in class barking and being rowdy. Elo and I did nothing but stay behind our barriers, with Elo in his crate for all but about 2 minutes. Even so, I was incredibly proud of him, as he stayed under threshold the entire night, even with 6 strange dogs, strange dog smells, and lots of barking, growling and whining going on around him. Just this was such major progress for him, I was thrilled! And it only got better from there! From being able to step outside his barrier and look at dogs for just a few seconds, to walking the length of the training room past multiple dogs lying on mats. And for the first time ever, Elo has worked around other dogs--doing things other than LAT. I am no longer strictly managing him every time he has another dog within his line of sight! Last night he worked Relaxation Protocol for several minutes with other dogs lying on their mats in view. He looked at the other dogs, but didn't stare and I didn't click his looks at all. Even bigger--we worked on a targeting exercise with other dogs moving around in his line of sight!! He stayed focused and worked enthusiastically! We actually fully participated in the class activities for the first time ever. The class played "there's a dog in your face" with one dog lying on a mat behind a ring gate and the other dogs walking directly towards them. Elo heeled all the way up to the gate with each dog behind it, did beautiful left turns, and stayed focused on me the whole time. Elo was also the mat dog, which was a totally new skill for him--staying calm while a dog walks directly towards him. Elo and I played "open bar/closed bar" while the other dog approached. This was a little harder for him. I know he was a bit stressed because when I released him he fixated on the closest dog, stared briefly and barked once, but I kept the leash loose and was able to get him back using just my voice and keep his attention while we headed back to our barrier. THEN!!!! Elo did PARALLEL WALKING with another dog about 10 feet away!! This was also a little harder for him, but he did it without going over threshold! SO PROUD!!! We have accomplished everything I hoped to accomplish in this class and more! We have one week left. Then a two week break before we start a new reactive dog class. Then in May we are going to re-take Changing Attitudes. Then maybe after that he will be ready to take a real class?!?! Right now, I am confident that the possibilities are endless!!

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