Friday, April 12, 2013

Wins Are Everywhere

The problem with reactivity is that it can be a problem for a long time. A very long time. So, I haven't posted in a few days because we just have been chugging along. We have major "wins" (and some fails) on every single walk, so they are a big deal to me, but maybe not blog material.

I have started a journal in just a plain old notebook, I am taking notes on every single thing we do - walks, training, everything. I am taking down note on what she's eaten, what training tools we used, what training we worked on, every last little detail to help myself remember so I can go back and reflect. I also take notes on what changes I want to make, or what I want to try for next time. This journal, only a week old at this point, has already been a huge benefit. I am already noticing patterns and it is already informing my decision making. I highly recommend it for anyone training.

Other than that, we have had some ups and downs. One wild reaction this week to a few dogs walking by on-leash across the street, but many more instances where Rocket obviously came to a mental fork in the road and chose to not freak out.

I am working on getting quicker with noticing where she is at on the reactivity scale, and stopping escalation before it starts. This, for me at least, has been difficult to learn and master, and takes a lot of time. Reactivity takes forever to fix not just because its hard to change a dog's hardwiring, but its hard to change our own as well. We must allow ourselves time to become more adept trainers with quicker reflexes to situations.

One of my mentors, a professional handler, is practically telepathic with dogs. She is always 5 steps ahead of the dog. She's not just fast, she's in the future...and she is excellent. She makes working with dogs of all kinds look easy. I hope someday I can have at least a smidgen of as much talent as her!

So, we keep going. I am trying to celebrate every single success. Did Rocket check herself and look at me instead of chasing after the squirrel? Win. Did Rocket ignore the child that approached us (before I told her to go away, poor kid)? Win. Did Rocket approach a neighbor today, who was at a distance, and literally not give a single care? Win. Did Rocket walk by the scary man with the scary weed whacker blaring away and keep her focus on me? Win!

The good thing about having a dog that is this bad, is everything is a big deal, which means wins are everywhere!

Stay positive!

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