We are now twelve days into this 3-week program, and Skylar has been making excellent progress in most areas:
All of these developing behaviors indicate that Skylar is slowly but steadily developing confidence and trust. She still needs time to allow a new person to touch her, but she’s getting there. I don’t allow new people to touch, look at, or even talk to her while she is smelling them; instead, I ask her to trust me by standing beside her and using a low, soft tone to both encourage her and reward her for making the right decisions. Skylar has been responding very well to this.
Last night, I took Skylar to one of our local pet stores. She was approached several times by both staff and customers who asked to pet her. She was very nervous, but she did not offer the reactive barking and mock-charging behaviors she had when she first came to me. Each time people asked to pet her, I said no and then moved slightly in front of her to show her I was protecting her. Skylar responded by standing quietly instead of trying to run away. The leash remained loose and relaxed the entire time, and when we walked slowly through the aisles so that she could smell the things that interested her, she was calmer and more relaxed. Overall, the entire experience was very positive for her.
Skylar has 10 days left in the program. During this time, she will be getting more of this kind of exposure to help her continue practicing self control and making better choices about her responses. I am taking things slowly, working within her thresholds while helping her increase them. She is responding very well to this, and seeing that she’s gaining trust and confidence in the process makes my heart happy. She is finally starting to learn that life is to be enjoyed, not feared, and you just can’t put a price on that.