This past week has been about breakthroughs – breakthroughs achieved through perseverance and the courage to trust: Lupin has finally pushed through some of the walls that have been keeping him in an unbalanced state.
He is finally eating his supper with Glimmer and Violet without anxiety.
He is finally learning to work with the leash instead of against it.
He has experienced strangers without becoming reactive to them.
He is finally accepting and respecting boundaries with me, my husband, Glimmer, and Violet.
He is finally learning to wait his turn with food and food treats.
He is finally learning to use his nose, think about his choices, and make a conscious effort to make the right ones.
The first breakthrough occurred a few days ago, while I was working him on a long line in the front yard. Strangers came to talk to me, and instead of becoming reactive, he surprised me by first using his nose to assess the situation, then backing up, and then, waiting for direction calmly and quietly. This was a colossal show of trust on his part, and I could not have been more proud of him for it.
Since then, he has been knocking down proverbial walls left, right, and center. The difference in him is nothing short of amazing.
Earning trust from a mistrustful dog is difficult and it takes time. Earning Lupin’s trust… All I can say is, in all my years of working with animals, I’ve never had to work so hard to earn trust as I’ve had to work to earn his.
As we start the final week of Lupin’s 4-week contract, I’m going to be engaging that trust. We’re going to be pushing hard through this final week continuing to build confidence, learning how to relax and walk nicely on a loose leash, and continuing to learn and practice being calm and relaxed around strangers, water, and food.
Have a great day, and remember: Stay calm and lead on.