Major breakthrough with Stella yesterday! She gave me complete trust for the first time since she arrived.
I took her out for what turned out to be an hour-long walk. She was not muzzled. We worked on leash manners [“no pulling”, “come back”, and “walk nice”], and she got to sniff to her heart’s content. She wanted to keep going, but she was starting to pull up her feet from the cold ground.
When we got back to the house and I unlocked the door, Glimmer was right there to greet us – and she refused to move away even though she could see Stella was right there.
Here’s the major breakthrough: Not only did Stella wait for me to deal with the situation, she did it quietly and calmly. Her tail went down, she looked away from Glimmer, and she moved with me instead of against me when I was finally able to bring her inside. It. Was. Awesome. I was so proud of her for making a different choice, and I rewarded her some tasty food treats to reinforce her good behavior.
During the walk, we encountered a few people. As soon as I saw them, we immediately stopped moving so that Stella would have some distance so she could just observe without feeling pressured. She did awesome. She stayed calm, she wasn’t tense at all, and although her tail was up, her hackles were not. She just watched them and waited calmly for me to start moving again. In one case, we were near a mail station; a man got out of his vehicle, saw us standing there, and began talking to me. Stella just waited calmly and quietly and watched the proceedings without so much as lifting a hair on her back.
Today is Day 12 with Stella. Aside from her aggression towards Glimmer and her possessiveness with food and water, Stella has made great strides in learning how to be around strangers. She’s starting to learn that her choices matter, that she can trust, and that life can be calmer and much more relaxed when she trusts her humans to guide and protect her. She’s come a very long way in 12 days.
We’ll be going out again today. I expect the walk – and getting back inside the house – to be as successful today as it was yesterday. Have a great day, and remember to stay calm and lead on.