Saturday, July 3, 2010

Working Sub-Threshold

We had a good reminder the other day to work with dogs at a level at which they can succeed.

Lars had been doing so well with meeting new people calmly and accepting treats, so I decided to take him to an adoption event, along with Fozzie. It was too much for both of them! Fozzie lay calmly through most of it, but barked excitedly a few times, and Lars was just spooked and anxious.

I was worried I'd given both of them a real setback, but we've been working hard on building back good experiences since. Lars got to socialize with Jenn, my wonderful class assistant Thursday night, where he accepted treats from her and wasn't tooo anxious standing with us on the sidewalk. (Jenn is brilliant about body language too, and she knows to stand without leaning over him, and not make eye contact as she offers a treat. I just ordered Canine Body Language by Brenda Aloff on her recommendation.)

On Friday we got in more good socialization with a visit from my neighbor Liz. Lars was a bit anxious and jumped up when she came to the gate, but we walked together and soon he was calmly walking with her holding his leash. She then walked him alone and reported he was calm and happy!

We then had a visit from my friend Simone, who taught us some more on T-Touch and how to use it to calm anxious dogs and help them feel more grounded. He seems to love those relaxing circles.

Lars has been bred to be very attached to his own human, and to defend his home and hearth from most others. He's doing a great job, and just needs to learn that he can relax the rules a bit with most people!

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