Class has been over for several weeks now. I miss it and Maybelle probably does as well. I admit, I just like dog training. I’m sure part of it is that it’s a good outlet for my inner control freak tendencies. But there’s also something cool about learning how your dog thinks and seeing it respond.
During the second to last class she had a good day with the trainer’s new dog. He’d come to class once before but May wouldn’t let him get close at all without popping off. She was willing to accept him by the second class though, and we parallel walked without much trouble. I thought this was especially interesting because I suspect he is just the kind of dog she tries to bully–a submissive male.
On our last day we were meandering through the park, and the only other dog still left in class was up ahead of us. When class first began this huge mastiff mix wouldn’t get anywhere near the rest of class. She was so dog reactive — and so strong — it took two people to control her. But on the last day she was maybe 30 feet ahead of us, and barely noticed we were there. But at one point she started to strain against the end of her leash, which set Maybelle off into a brief barking fit. Nothing major but she definitely wanted to let the dog know she had her eye on her.
The trainer said, “Out of control dogs are definitely a trigger for her.”
Yep, that’s my dog… The Fun Police. She even does it with my cats. If they start to wrestle each other she gets up and trots over and just looks at them as if to say, “Move along.” They immediately disperse. She’s also managed to get my one cat to stop scratching a living room chair using this technique. I probably shouldn’t let her do this, but if it “gives her a job” and she doesn’t hurt anyone, it doesn’t seem like the worst thing in the world.
In the weeks since class ended I’ve been trying to keep up the training. We’ve had a lot of challenges. We keep running into this really obnoxious German shepherd that just barks and barks and barks at the sight of a dog…even when it’s just driving by with its head hanging out of a car window. The dog drives me and Maybelle batty. Also, this very loud yellow lab somehow moved yards and was on a corner lot. There was no getting by it and no one seemed to care that it was barking incessantly in its yard. These dogs present real challenges, and she doesn’t handle them perfectly, but she’s getting better.
Then, today, I had a breakthrough… We took the long route for our daily walk. It’s about 3 miles. After the first couple of miles she seemed to be getting bored, just forging ahead…not quite pulling. So I decided to play a game with her on the home stretch (where there are lots of dogs, including a Corgi that gets up in the window and LOSES ITS MIND). I stopped and when she sat I rewarded her. I took a few steps and then stopped again. She sat. I rewarded her. Then I started rewarding her every second or third sit. Then I started walking for longer stretches between each sit. She fell in line, walking right beside me without “forgetting” and wandering ahead.
We even made it by the Corgi without a problem. By the time we go back to my street she was lagging behind me, barely able to keep up. The mental challenge combined with the good long walk really tired her out. This will be my coping strategy until classes start again in January.