Roko is finally eating. And, he’s eating all of his meals instead of just picking at them. His family suggested that I try mixing a little warm water into his kibble; I did, and he ate the entire meal. He’s been eating great ever since. In fact, he looks forward to his meals, now, and that is awesome.
Day 8 was a busy one. Roko was taken out on several walks, where he was given lots of opportunities to practice walking nicely on the leash, being patient about getting permission to smell things, not jumping against or trying to grab or nip at my husband when he walked with us, looking to each of us for direction, and walking nicely when my husband took the leash to walk him. He wasn’t sure about the change of handler at first, but he adjusted really quickly and did a phenomenal job of following instead of pulling.
We had only one problem crop up later in the evening: I had to leave for an hour to teach a private class. Roko has been really good with my husband when I’ve had to step out, so I expected this time would be no different. When my class was finished, I called him to let him know I was on my way home. My husband told me Roko had a severe anxiety attack when I left and had been redirecting that energy onto both Glimmer and Violet by chasing them and trying to jump them. He told me it became so intense that he had no choice but to give Roko a few minutes of kennel time just to help him calm down. It did help; when Roko was released a few minutes later, he was much calmer. He just chewed on his bone and left Glimmer and Violet alone. When I arrived home, he immediately became overly excited, but he tried really hard to practice keeping his feet on the floor to greet me. That was a big deal for him and I was very pleased with him for it.
In light of last night’s unexpected challenge, I’ll be putting more focus on helping Roko with his separation anxiety. We want him to learn that he’s safe and secure when they aren’t present, and that they will always come back. Along with all the other things I’m working to sort out with him, this is the biggest issue he has that needs to be addressed.
Today, I’m taking Roko out for another walk with a second person. My goal is to bring more people into the walk as the week goes on so he can learn to relax and enjoy himself on a group walk. His people are coming on Sunday to start learning how to work with him, and it would mean so much to them to be able to have a calm, relaxed walk with him as a family.
At this time, I want to extend this encouragement to his family: I know it may seem like Roko has huge problems that can’t be fixed, but please know that he’s actually been doing really well so far. He is a teenager, and some of his behavior stems from that. It’s perfectly normal for him to be a stinker sometimes. But we also have to remember that he never got to learn critical life lessons from his litter mates and mother, so his understanding of how to be in the world, and how to be a well-adjusted dog is delayed. He needs time, patience, a lot of compassionate understanding, and consistent, calm guidance to help him learn these things.
Have a great day, and remember to stay calm and lead on. 🙂