Stella had an excellent first day. She showed respect to Glimmer and Violet, she offered play to Glimmer, she accepted being kenneled when I had to lay down for a bit of a nap – she didn’t whine or cry or anything – and she did a wonderful job of accepting her food from my hand when it was time to eat her supper. She did react to my husband coming in the house – she barked, growled, and hackled – but to my great surprise, she only did this for about a minute before settling down and just being watchful.
Stella’s first night in the kennel was… awesome. She didn’t resist going into it, she didn’t whine or cry or try to chew at the gate, nothing. She just laid down and went to sleep. She slept peacefully all night.
Just as I did with her supper last night, I hand-fed Stella her breakfast this morning. Stella is very uncomfortable with human touch. She will accept it, but she does a lot of lip-licking and her body tenses up. Among other things it helps create and nurture, hand-feeding also helps build and nurture trust. And Stella desperately needs to be able to trust humans.
This morning, I am showing Stella trust by allowing her to be without the muzzle. I have to earn her trust, but she also has to earn mine, and giving her time off from her muzzle while keeping her on a relaxed, loose leash is proving to be very effective.
I am very happy to report that since her initial reactive behavior towards my husband, Stella has not repeated that reaction. She has growled a couple of times and she becomes tense and alert, but she has not barked at him or tried to lunge at him. He even stood in front of the kennel with his back to the gate while I was first getting up, and she did nothing. No barking, no whining, nothing. Instead, she watched, she remained calm, and when I opened the kennel door for her, she came out calmly and quietly and then she waited while I put her collar and leash on her. It was beautiful.
Based on what I’ve observed in her so far, Stella has a long way to go before she will fully trust humans. But, she wants to trust, she is trying, and she is doing her best. That’s all I can ask of her right now.