Wow last week went by fast!
Monday we took Liezel to the vet for a prescription renewal. It’s not our usual vet but the one we see annually for her anxiety medication. Last year was a complete disaster. Liezel was frantically looking in every direction, barking, pulling, and lunging at everyone and everything. They ushered us into a room right away to get us away from everyone else. I cried during the appointment out of frustration, concern, embarrassment, and who knows what else. I had so much anxiety, and felt hopeless and helpless. We had been seeing the new trainer for a few months and his entire training premise relied on mild correction with the prong collar. The vet told us “please do not use that collar.” The conflicting information from all sources was too much. The day after that appointment I was a mess. I called a few other dog trainers and asked their opinions. All of them told me that counter conditioning was the correct way to train her and the prong collar would do more harm than good. But I had tried counter conditioning for 18 months and she continued to get more fearful and more reactive. It wasn’t until we started seeing the new trainer and using correction along with reward that we started seeing any kind of improvement. I had a decision to make. Listen to the behavioral vet and trainers who agreed on a method that did not seem to work for Liezel or go with the trainer who we were seeing results with. It was a difficult decision and many times I wished Liezel could “just one time” talk to me. I stuck to the trainer’s methods and continued with the prong collar.
Now one year later, Monday night, we went back to the vet. We were not ushered into a room, but actually waited in the lobby for 30 minutes. Other people and pets came and went. Liezel was alert and obviously uncomfortable (hackles up, wide eyed) but completely manageable. I kept her busy with obedience commands (watch, touch, shake, etc.) and rewarded her a lot. She was praised and rewarded for looking at others and back to me. She sniffed a couple of people and came back to me for reward. Her only reaction, what would have been lunging but the floor was too smooth for her to get traction, was toward one man. Once he was gone, she calmed quickly. She was great with the vet tech, the vet who came in accidentally, and the vet we were there to see (whom Liezel has only met twice before). Just like last year, the vet commented that Liezel is very obedient and “a good girl.” She’s a perfect weight (visually), has a beautiful, healthy coat, and otherwise seems incredibly healthy. I asked if we could lower the does of the anxiety medication to see if what she has been taught has been learned (the medication was only to calm her enough to be able to learn coping skills – not to keep her medicated the rest of her life). The vet agreed with my proposed decrease and I have to report back to her in one month with how Liezel is doing. This is all about Liezel…if she isn’t doing well, we will put her back up to the current dose, if she is doing well, we’ll keep her at the lower dose, continue teaching/learning, and reassess next year. Progress! And, successes!
Because of the snow we got Tuesday, agility was cancelled.
Saturday was our first day back to obedience. The facility is super close to home so that is a bonus! We’re taking intermediate since they’re not currently offering advanced but most of the teams are already at advanced level so it was still challenging. Liezel was interested in sniffing other people upon entering the building and was really well behaved. We worked on long distance stays, meeting strangers and shaking hands, heeling and focus. While she showed signs of discomfort (ears back and more alert than necessary) during the long distance stays, she did not get up during any of the drills. She did jump in front of me in an effort to get away from the man next to us during one heeling drill, but we remained next to him the remainder of the class and had no additional incidences.
Random Acts of Kindness:
- 9. Complimented a stranger
- 10. Related to a frustrated jeans shopper and lightened the mood
- 11. Stayed after class to work with someone else’s dog
Diet and Fitness / Liezel / Housekeeping:
- Missed one (of the only four) work out days
- Did not drink required amount of water one day
- Liezel and I spent at least two hours together training
- Assigned room cleaned top to bottom
Grade for the week: A-