Abby has been making incredible progress this week. Day by day, she is gaining more confidence and becoming less reactive to the world around her. She is no longer fearful of getting into her owner’s truck – she jumps in easily and without any hesitation – and she is finally using her nose to assess other animals and people in or around her environment, rather than auto-reacting. These and other incredible changes have all taken place this week, and the transformation is nothing less than amazing.
Yesterday, we met at a popular park to continue working on building confidence and trust. Abby was very excited to see me, and she greeted me by pulling hard on the leash to get to me, and then, by trying to jump up at me. But, while she forgot the rule about no pulling, she did remember the “four on the floor” rule: if you want affection, don’t jump.
Because it was a new environment and people with their dogs were coming and going, Abby was given about 15 minutes to investigate the area and drain out some of her high energy. When she got near the metal bleachers and showed no fear of them, it was decided to start confidence-building exercises there. She was awesome; she gave Cindy focused, sustained eye contact, she allowed Cindy to guide her up and down the steps, she waited for direction… It was beautiful.
We worked around the bleachers for about 20 minutes before moving past them to a spot behind a high chain-link fence. A tall planter and a wooden bench presented more opportunities for confidence exercises. The goals were to teach Abby “under” and “over”: go under the bench and come out the other side, and jump into the planter and exit from the other side. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to work around the bench; there were children there who were climbing on top of the shack that was beside it. But we did get to work Abby at the planter; she was nervous about it and she kept trying to go around it, but eventually, she found her courage. She jumped into it, and off of it from the opposite side.
The entire session was absolutely fantastic. It was very clear that Cindy has been working with Abby every day. Abby’s confidence was dramatically improved from last week, and she’s much better about looking to Cindy for direction. She’s learning to control her movement – she has that typical puppy habit of trying to leap and bolt everywhere to take in everything all at once – she’s learning to control her excitement, and she is starting to understand and practice patience. She’s been doing fantastic with the “do nothing” exercise, and her anxiety is finally beginning to decrease.
I am so proud of Cindy and Abby. They’re both learning to trust each other, and they’re both becoming more confident. Cindy is becoming a strong, stable leader for Abby, and Abby is finally starting to come out of her shell. Where before she was afraid of everything, she is now showing curiosity – and, she’s trusting Cindy to have things under control. She and Cindy are becoming a strong, stable, bonded team.
Have a great day and a fantastic weekend, and remember to stay calm and lead on…