Last sunday we had packed everything ready and were going to get in the car and go to the training group as we do every sunday, but Bella said she needed to pee before getting in the car. So we just walked a little, though a little became a 2 hour walk. She was so enthusiastic so we ended up not going. I think it was just as well.
But today we did. The weather was really nice, though cold and we arrived about 30min before the others as usual, to walk around and let Bella sniff and do her business. She seemed so happy to be back and was eager and very responsive to me. We walked up to the training grounds and they were preparing the training and there was one dog there that I didn’t expect, but Bella just looked at it for a short time and then headed off to sniff. We walked on and saw a labrador come our way, so when Bella saw it I asked her to jump up on a big rock. I made sure she could keep an eye on the lab but also got her to jump back and forth between two rocks and could reward contact. She did really well and the lab passed us by only a few meters. When he passed I let her follow him to check his scent. We then walked around just letting her smell and after a while she saw the lab from a distance again and with no prompt from me she turned around and made contact! I was so happy to reward that! A brilliant choice! After some more walking we had a finnish lapphound come towards us. When she saw him I asked her to step off the walkway and to the side and she broke off very easily. While he passed us she just looked at me and got treats on the ground and she was so calm. Beautifully done! Again I let her go check his scent and we walked on. We then saw a small white dog from a distance and again she could easily break off and not get stuck staring. She just looked at him shortly and went back to sniff. Really good and I didn’t interfere as I like her choice of just sniffing the ground. We then headed for the car to have a small break for water and a chew on her mat before the real training. This time we had the mat a lot closer to the training grounds then before and I was curious if she would be able to really relax that close. She had no trouble, just lay on her hip chewing and then just stayed there relaxing until I asked her to come.
We did as before and walked up to the same “safe spot” as we used the last times. She was brilliant today! She was so much more relaxed and we could do a lot more behaviours than before, even though there was some really agitated barking. We also had dogs even closer to us then last time and still she could easily follow me and stay connected. I let her look at them and I make sure that I don’t ask more than she can handle. If she needs to keep an eye on the other dogs I let her. I even got to test her recall and she came with no hesitation. I was very careful of timing the cue to when I was pretty sure she would be able to come and she had perfect reaction and speed. I am really proud of her! This was a great improvement and I like the set-up we have now. From this we can really work our way closer in the right increments. I also see that the work we do on these Sundays help her in everyday situations as well. We continue the work of being able to break the stare and not freeze up and she gets better and better in all situations.
Earlier I thought that once a week wouldn’t be enough training but it is. And I see now that even when we skipped a sunday and it was 2 weeks since the last time there was no regression just improvement. So I think it’s good that she gets time in between to digest everything. Today we also had trouble getting her to leave the training. She knows that it’s over and we are going to the car and she just stands there begging us to stay. We only “train” for 12 min and I will rather keep it that short and have her succeed then push it and risk her getting tired and distracted. So it’s good that she doesn’t want to leave the fun!