Monday, May 1, 2017

Awesome Training Habits Pre-Challenge Challenge

1) Picture your ideal outcome with your dog(s). What do you envision? If you had a magic wand, what would you make happen for the two of you? What are you wanting from your relationship with your dog?

Ideally, Ida would be happy and excited to ride in the car, looks forward to car rides and is pushing me to let her into the car so we can go places instead of running from the car.  In an ideal world, we'll compete in sports like Rally-O, Agility, and Nosework.

I want to see her happy and able to enjoy things that I know she likes without being afraid. I want a partner to do fun things with.  I would love to be able to do those fun things outside of our home, but I am never again going to put Ida in any position that causes her to shut down if it is just for fun. 

2) Make a list of at least 10 things that you have accomplished towards this above vision.

- Started implementing cooperative care protocols to build trust
- Along with that, giving both of my dogs more autonomy in things where it's reasonable.
- Stopped unnecessary/uncontrolled exposure to triggers
- Started building positive association with "outing" gear
- We're now doing once-a-week BMod walks.  They are short, and full of lots of treats, and at times of day where there are few other dogs out in our neighborhood.
- Started working on titles that we can do completely at home, like DMWYD trick titles, and Fenzi TEAM Titles.
- Trying to improve my communication skills, such as using different marker words consistently for different things.
- Rewarding for the behaviours that I want, even outside of formal training sessions.  The intention is to reduce ambiguity about what to do.
- Started taking measures to help her develop coping mechanisms.  For example, she gets worked up when Snowball runs to the back door when I get home from work, and used to chased/bite/jump on him when they were let outside.  I started restraining her when I let Snowball out to prevent her from racing outside after him; she could do whatever she wanted at the door for 15-20 seconds, until she was able to offer a focused hand-target, and then she is let outside.  We now have this ritual where everyone races to the back door, I open it and Snowball races outside, and Ida waits patiently inside for me to crouch down so she can give me a "hug" and shower me with kisses. She still races him to the back door, but she doesn't body slam or jump on him, and she waits patiently inside when I open the door to let him out.
- Started anti-anxiety medications to help level out her mental state to improve her resilience.

This question really stumped me, because I feel like I haven't done enough.  But I'm glad I had to think through it.

3) Make a list of five key challenges you still face.

1. Overcoming her fear/anxiety of travelling in the car.
2. Creating a calming ritual for when I take Snowball out the front door (for walks, to go to class, etc.).
3. Nervous/hesitant in new places.
4. Nervous/hesitant around new dogs, especially at a distance.
5. Poor engagement in places outside of the house and back yard.