I was also talking to Ginger about the Sensible harnesses. I said I had no luck with the Easy Walk harness and I’m doubtful the Sensible would work any better, but I miss having some control over her front end. Ginger is going to let me borrow one of the harnesses to try out to see if I like it before I spend money on it.
I swear to god that Inara is bipolar. She was AMAZING today (for the most part). Just awesome. She was the first dog in and only barked a couple times as the other dogs came in. We started off playing LAT to get the dogs focused on working. Then Ginger came around and we worked on the dogs calmly saying hello. Inara’s getting really good at this – I have her target my hand that’s furthest from Ginger (Ginger wants her to learn that moving back allows her to move forward) and then I tell her “go say hi.” She races over to Ginger, wiggling all over, gives her some lovin’s and then flies back to me for a treat.
We did that a couple times and then we practiced sending the dogs to a lid on the ground with a couple treats, still using the cue “go say hi.” Inara does really well with this, too – targeting my hand and then being released to the lid, then coming back to me. And all the dogs were doing this at the same time, and Inara could see them. Ginger still has gates up, but no blankets so the dogs can see through them. All the dogs have come so far from that first week or two when only one dog could move at a time.
Next we worked on “leave it.” Ginger had us run through varying levels of difficulty to show us what to do, but told us to take it much slower when we practice at home. Shockingly Inara did very well at this – normally her “leave it” leaves much to be desired. It got to the point where I was dropping the treat right in front of her feet and she wouldn’t even look at it.
After that Ginger wanted us to work on teaching the dogs a position they can go to if they get worked up, kind of a safe spot for them. She said the two best options are either behind us or in a down between our legs, our choice. I am doing the down between my legs just because I feel that will give me more control over her. I’m going to have to figure out how to shape this behavior because she did really well when I was luring her, but she just stared at me blankly when I tried to get her there w/o luring.
Then the hard part came. Ginger had brought one of her dogs, a very calm GSD, Pistol, who had been in her crate in the office through class. She wanted us to do a form of CAT – she would bring Pistol out and one dog at a time would be in the room with her. She didn’t want us to treat our dogs or anything, just ignore them. As soon as our dog stopped barking and did a look away or calming signal of some type she would move Pistol further away. Pistol was great, very obviously doing her best to avoid looking at our barking dog. Inara didn’t do horribly – she barked a TON, but she wasn’t lunging and her bark was more of a pattern-type barking. She was doing half-way play bows as she was barking. She would then turn and look at me or sniff the ground and Ginger would move Pistol away one step, and that’s the only time that Inara hit the end of the leash – when Pistol was moving away. Then she would back up and bark again, backing up and doing a partial play bow, over and over.
Inara did the most barking out of the dogs for this part, but Ginger said she did well, especially as she wasn’t barking aggressively, or growling, or lunging. Ginger said that she really thinks Inara is barking because it just has become such an ingrained habit now. *sigh* I know that’s good, and I realize now that Inara isn’t aggressive, just hyper-motivated to reach the other dog to play. It’s still rude though, but now I’m wondering if I’ve made it worse by denying her the ability to meet other dogs.
I’ve really enjoyed this class and I’m bummed that we only have one session left (I think…). Ginger’s out of town next week so our next class is in two weeks – I wonder if this will make Inara act like a fool again because there will be so much time in between classes.