One the weekend, when I went to visit my daughter, I asked her if she could take some photos of Lu and I. There are not a lot of photos of the both of us together since I am usually the one holding the camera.
I am always in awe of the photos that my daughter takes.
Of course there are always the ones that we pose for:
And then there’s this one.
This one is my favorite. When I look at this photo I am filled with so much love for Lu. If I were to pick just one word… A caption for this photo… It would be ‘companion’.
Sometimes I think I am being overprotective when it comes to Lu. I have anxiety and unfortunately this tends to get in the way of me trusting my instincts. I often think maybe it is my anxiety making the decisions. It makes me second guess what my gut reaction to certain situations are. I often check with other people to see if my logic for my reaction is sound. So here is the situation:
The behaviorist called to check in to see how Lu and I are doing with our training. She is still recommending the leash aggression class. I told her (again)that I need to observe this class before I put Lu in it because I don’t understand 1.How you take a bunch of aggressive dogs and put them in a class together and 2. I don’t want everything that we have accomplished to go flying out the door when she is put in this sort of environment. Her reply was that no one has ever asked to observe the class before putting there dog in it so she would have to email her supervisor to see if I could do this. She felt that since this was a ‘special case’ (the incident) and that it may be approved.
This is where my dog mom alarm goes off. No one has ever asked to observe a class before putting their dog in it? NO ONE? Really? I know I would never take my dog to a kennel, daycare, or dog sitter without first checking it out. Why is this different? I’ve already learned the hard way what happens when I don’t act on what I know is right. I’m not saying that these trainers are bad or that what happened before will happen again but should it be that big of a deal for a person to observe a class? You would think that they would welcome a person to come and see a class.
I work with children doing speech therapy. We have an open door policy when it comes to parents wanting to observe therapy sessions. They don’t even have to tell me beforehand that they will attend the session. Granted the child usually acts way different when the parent is there but it is still encouraged that parents come and observe. Do the trainers in these classes see me observing as a distraction to the dogs and their owners?
I have read about people putting their dogs in classes like this and for the most part they have been happy with the results. I just need more information. I need to see what it looks like.
I would love to, one day, enroll Lu in agility or nose work classes but for now I just want to get her better at seeing other dogs. Maybe this class will do wonders for her….but then again maybe not. I just want all the information before I decide. Is that a bad thing?
Luna with my sister’s dog Yoda.
I drove a half hour to the nearest ‘big’ town so that Lu and I could work some more on her leash reactivity. Once we got there I knew that finding a dog on leash and being taken for a walk would be difficult.
The first hour of our walk yielded 2 barking dogs in a window and a very mellow husky staring at us through a chain link fence. Lu was a little agitated by the little dogs but got her self control in check without too much whining. The husky I didn’t even see but Lu did … She was great… No barking or whining. She just looked at it and when I said “lets go” she followed. (Mental note: Must make friends with husky owner)
Once we got back to the truck, I decided we would change our location. We headed closer to the lake. Not only to maybe find a dog but so Lu could cool off.
Lu had fun in the water and after about 45 minutes I figured we might as well head home. We headed back to the truck just as a car was parking beside me. A lady got out and headed to the back door of her vehicle. This meant one of two things: child or dog. We waited……it was a dog. As soon as Lu saw the dog we practiced ‘run away’.
I know what your thinking… An hour and 45 minutes to find a dog and you run away? Let me explain. Because Lu will not take a treat or even break her stare when there is another dog within eye shot, we instead run in the opposite direction followed by a treat. The click comes when she looks at the dog…. the reward is to run away + treat . The trainer that we have been seeing figures Lu’s issue is fear based so a reward of ‘get away from the dog’ might work. (Something she didn’t get the chance to do when she was attacked.)
Once we ‘run away’ we go back. And now the stalking begins …. The lady and her dog went down a path to the lake. I know this path doesn’t go anywhere but to the lake and back and Lu can still see the dog from up on the hill where we are standing. So we continue to practice. The dog is now off leash so I am keeping a close eye on it and the owner.
Then I notice the owner walking back to her vehicle and the dog still running around off leash. So I back up so that we will hopefully not be spotted by this dog when he come running over the hill. Again we wait…. The owner is on the phone and looks over to see Lu and I. Lu is sitting really nice. She glances at us twice then turns around and heads back to the lake. I figured we better go cause the look she gave me was pretty odd. And of course I started thinking this may look a little bit weird. We looked like a couple of stalkers I am sure…. oh wait…. we are.
Note: we practiced without using the gentle lead. 🙂
You can sit there………………..^
So….when Luna was first introduced to the halti (gentle lead). It was a quick ,put it on, give her a treat ,drag her around kinda of thing. It was done in the pet store after a sales person noticed she was a puller. I thought this was a great thing for her as her pulling stopped immediately and she was now a joy to walk. However, Lu hates this thing. She sits while I put it one but her head is avoiding it and her tail goes stiff. I don’t like using it but with her leash aggression I find it the easiest to use in controlling her outbursts. ( I only put it on if I know we may encounter dogs)
I pointed this out to the behavior lady on Friday (she is encouraging me to use it) and she said she would send me a video to work on this and she will eventually be desensitized to it and may even enjoy it.
Here is the video link:
The lady in the video is really quick with her dog. But you get the idea.
The behavior lady said to take my time with this and do it over a few days. I tried it today and it actually works. Luna will now lift her head so that I can put the loop over her muzzle and no more stiff tail. I am sure after a week she will be feeling a lot better about her halti.
My goal is to never have to put this on her again. But for now it is a good tool to have while we work on her issue and having her more at ease about it helps.
HOWEVER….when I was using the halti for Luna’s pulling on the leash issue I noticed, as I am sure other people have, that when not wearing it she continued to pull. My goal at that time was the same as it is now…not to use the halti. So I worked very hard with Lu so she could walk very nicely beside me on a loose leash. This was achieved by working a lot without the halti.
So, of course, I questioned the BL about this because if I get Luna to respond appropriately with the halti on, what will happen when it comes off? And you know I respect the honesty in this lady; She told me that yes I would probably have to work at getting Lu to respond appropriately again but with any luck she may transfer what she already learned. But for now with it on she was not practicing
losing her mind her usual response when she saw another dog.
So I guess we will see what will happen in the next few months. The prognosis is good and I still have hope.