Thursday, December 9, 2010

Milestones

Sorry, no new photos of the pooches, still camera-less!

Yesterday we reached some milestones. First, Tiki turned 16 weeks! She's doing great and will be going to the vet tomorrow for her last shots, her rabies, to have her hips rechecked (oh, I forgot to mention there was concern about her hips when she was 10 weeks, didn't I?) and to get the ringworm on her head evaluated and potentially treated. Since it was her 16 week day we decided to take her on her first long walk. I had her wear her head collar just so she can spend more time in it before we go out in public. She certainly doesn't need a head collar at all but it's supposed to be part of her uniform so she has to wear it. In fact, she walks great on a leash! She sticks to "heel" position and offers eye contact regurlary. While she was a bit stressed when we passed walking dogs a happy voice got her tail wagging and her accepting kibble with no issues. Regular neighborhood walks and minor counter-conditioning should be all that's needed to get her over any stress about barking dogs behind fences, unlike Eclipse.

Speaking of Eclipse's anxiety outside. That's right, I said "outside". I've realized from watching him carefully that his anxiety isn't just when other dogs are around or when there are fences where dogs could be hiding, he has anxiety to being outside, on-leash in general. We've been working on counter-conditioning that and it's been going well. For the past couple weeks I've been regularly taking him outside and walking him up and down our little part of the road (we live on a dead-end part of a road that's kind of like alley) and past the neighbor's house where there are no dogs. I started by giving him a delicious treat every step we took that he was on a loose leash and in heel position. We gradually faded that and now he gets a treat every 15 steps or so.  I think it also helps that I found GREAT treats to use for him. They're from a line of prepared natural food called Freshpet that we can get locally. I got the real beef ones and they're so easy to slice up into little pieces that are great for training and Eclipse Loves them! Yesterday I decided to see how far we could walk and we walked around the entire block without a single major reaction! He was wearing the head collar I got for Tiki but just to protect his throat due to a cough he has I don't really want any pressure on his collar which is why I'll be ordering him one of these this week. It wasn't too hard to keep his attention on me and he'd willingly get back into position and take treats despite there being dogs behind fences barking at him! One thing I did change was when we get past a stressful section I let him let loose a little by putting his front paws on my chest and getting lots and lots of loves. Then he shakes it off and is good to go! It's so nice to see the effort we've been putting into this for the past 9 months really start to pay off!

You can be sure there will be plenty of photos soon!

Ally (so proud of both of my retrievers along with the "strange" little dogs! Everyone is doing so well!)

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