Today marks Lacey’s 9th day with us. Tanya had her baby, but he is several weeks early and needs special care untilthe doctors deem him strong enough to go home. Lacey will remain with us until Tanya is able to bring her new son home.
Lacey has been through a lot in the past couple of months. She went through a big move from a home with a yard to an apartment, and then from there to our house. Big changes can be very hard on dogs, and Lacey is no exception. She’s been having accidents at her new home, and she’s having them in our house, too. So, while she’s been with us, I’ve been re-training her. She’s still having accidents in the house, but they are becoming less frequent, and she is showing great improvement with her alerting.
When it comes to respecting our animals’ boundaries, Lacey has shown significant improvement. She no longer chases Violet, and she is giving more respect to Glimmer. She still takes toys away and she still tries to shove Glimmer out of the way when affection is being given, but Lacey is slowly learning that this behavior is not acceptable and that she must wait for her turn. She is also learning that vocalizing her displeasure at having to wait is also unacceptable and it will not be tolerated.
Where vocalizing is concerned, progress is very slow. Lacey has a very loud voice and she has learned that the louder she is, the more likely she is to get her own way. In an apartment, the risk of neighbors complaining is high, and Matt and Tanya can’t afford that. Since we live in a house, we don’t have to be concerned about neighbor complaints. Lacey is learning that regardless of how loud she gets, when she is asked to do something, her only choice is to obey – quietly. She’s also learning that when she does get vocal, not only will I not give in to her, but I will wait her out for as long as it takes for her to surrender. Sometimes, her surrender is immediate; other times, it takes her a few minutes; still other times, it can take up to ten minutes for her to accept that she is not going to win.
The trick to dealing with Lacey’s vocalization is to immediately stop using sound to correct her, and use direct eye contact, body language, and calm, assertive energy instead. Direct eye contact does make a big difference – she hates it – but combine that with the right body language and energy at the same time, and she will respond much more quickly with the correct, desired behavior.
Training and Conditioning
During her stay with us, Lacey is being worked on all of her basics, as well as learning how to properly go up and down stairs both on and off the leash. Where her basics are concerned, she needs a lot of work. She also needs major door conditioning. However, she’s doing a great job with the stair exercises; she’s really good on leash, but she still needs work off leash. I’m noticing that most of Lacey’s problems tend to occur off the leash, and based on what I’ve observed so far, my opinion is that she lacks confidence. She seems to feel safer and she’s definitely much calmer when she’s on the leash, which tells me she’s not feeling secure or confident when she’s off leash. So, to help build her confidence, I’m doing off-leash exercises with her in my back yard.
Door conditioning is absolutely critical. Currently, Lacey barks almost non-stop when someone comes to the door, she rushes the door, and she won’t allow whoever is there to come in. So, beginning today, I’m going to be teaching her to go to a mat when the door bell rings or someone knocks, and stay there until she’s given permission to greet. She’s going to be vocal about it, but the goal for right now is to help her associate the mat with calmness and patience. Baby steps, baby steps…
Overall, Lacey is doing very well with us. She is eating with Glimmer and Violet without trying to take their food, she is learning to be respectful not only towards us, but to Glimmer and Violet, too, and she is doing her best to practice the behaviors she knows will earn her pets. She doesn’t care too much about food treats; her biggest, highest-value reward is – and always has been – physical affection, and Lacey will do almost anything for that.
Have a great day, everyone, and remember: Stay calm and lead on.