Our dog, Chase, is very dog selective, and has been since the day we adopted him. He would bark and lunge at any dog he thought was a threat. (Side note: this is how most trainers get started in the profession, with their own "project" dog.) We have worked hard over the years to desensitize and counter-condition Chase and we now take walks and go camping with little to no issues.
My son now has a dog, and we sometimes "dog sit" him. Kam is a spunky terrier mix - dog and people friendly and very high energy. Although Chase now does well with dogs out of the house, another dog IN THE HOUSE is another matter! The first time Kam visited, Chase barked, lunged, and snarled - through the safety of a gate - at the poor, unsuspecting Kam.
Over the half a dozen or so times Kam has visited we have worked on desensitizing and counter-conditioning Chase. At first it was clicking and treating Chase just for looking at Kam, but now we reward Chase for being calm around Kam. We do this every time we have the opportunity.
Kam came to visit last night (Tuesday) and will be staying until Friday. When Kam first gets here he is a whirling dervish, getting into just about every toy he can find (he loves dissecting the plush toys to find the squeaker). It is definitely a stressful time for Chase so they are separated by a gate between our living and dining rooms. By the next morning, however, Kam has usually settled in and is much calmer. After breakfast is also nap time for Ash and Chase, so I took advantage of the situation.
As you can see, our consistency and patience are paying off, as Chase and Kam are resting comfortably on the same couch. We still have work to do, but the fruits of our labor are well worth it.
In order for training to be successful we have to set up our dogs to get it right. Last week we tried to teach Bailey to walk without pulling but she was so excited to go for a walk around the neighborhood that she just couldn't focus on what we were trying to teach her. After several failed attempts we took her to the back yard where there were far fewer distractions and the smells were familiar. She did much better. I instructed her owners to only walk Bailey in the back yard for a week so she could get some positive repetitions in. And what a difference it made., as today we were able to walk around the neighborhood without our arms being pulled out of the socket. Set your dog up for success!
Jack is a big boy, and he has learned that pulling gets him where he wants to go. Today, with help from a properly fitted front-clip harness and a high rate of reinforcement of some yummy treats, we taught Jack how to walk without pulling.
Danner likes to play keep-away with his toys, so today we taught him how to Drop It. We then taught him Leave It to help with his squirrel and cat chasing.
Nittany did great learning how to Go to Spot. This skill will be used for door greetings, to
prevent begging and counter surfing, or to just relax.
Jeff Dentler, CPDT-KA, IAABC-ADT, FFCP, CTDI