Roko: Learning as He Grows

Roko has been with me for five days. When he came to me, he was biting, mouthing hard, nipping at clothing, legs, ankles, and hands, jumping up on people, barking at strangers, and generally controlling everything and everyone. Five days into his program, and here’s where we’re at:

— biting and nipping has all but stopped
— mouthing has almost stopped
— learning to share resources
— huge decrease in pulling during walks
— vast improvement with waiting for permission
— learning to focus and maintain focus until released
— learning how to interact more calmly with Glimmer and Violet
— learning structured meal times
— learning appropriate play with people and with toys
— no more barking at strangers
— looking to his handler for direction in unfamiliar situations/places
— follows much faster
— significant improvement with recall, sit, down, wait, stay
— improving with kennel time/separation
— improving with car training
— completely house-broken

— temper tantrums
— over-excitement with Glimmer
— possessive of certain resources
— counter surfing and stealing food

Roko has made tremendous progress over these past five days. He is still throwing temper tantrums when he doesn’t get his own way, BUT: the duration and intensity of those tantrums has significantly decreased. He is still getting over-excited around Glimmer, BUT: he has started to realize his excitement level is not acceptable, and he is now actively trying to control himself. And, he’s shown possessiveness towards certain resources, BUT: he’s been learning that he’ll get them, too; he just has to be patient and wait for his turn. He’s still trying to access food from the counters and one of the tables, BUT: he’s learning that being given trust is a huge, very high-value reward, and he’s trying very hard to control his impulses. He gets close to the counters and the table and he sniffs like crazy, but that’s as far as he goes.

Because he’s still getting over-excited around Glimmer and he tends to try to bully her into playing with him, Roko is still on an umbilical lead. He is given more leash length as he earns it, but he remains attached to me. And when I’m working him around food, the leash is shortened to prevent him from putting his feet on the counter.

Roko has shown me that this is actually very helpful to him. He’s trying very hard to control his impulses, but food is such a big trigger for him that he has a really hard time stopping himself. He knows he’s making the wrong choice when he steals food, but he hasn’t yet come to trust that he doesn’t have to scrounge for it anymore. He’s shown me that the umbilical lead is a support tool for him when he’s struggling to make the right choice, so that’s what we use. Whatever he needs to help him succeed.

Overall, Roko is doing very well. He’s got some struggles, yes, and some things are more difficult for him to recover from than others – yes. But he’s trying, and that’s what matters.

More pictures will be coming soon. In the meantime, have a great day, and remember to stay calm and lead on.


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