Warning, this is long, so if you want to just read the first and last paragraph you can =) 

 

So, Kenzie has been way too reactive for me to take to any of my regular dog training classes (I am a trainer), so instead, I have been taking her a private lesson I do with a friend, which we do next to a very big field. I work with her way out in the field as the client is getting set up and warming up her dog. Each week for 3 weeks now I have been working my way closer and closer, but Kenzie has never been able to actually relax while seeing the other dog. As long as I have had her (4mos), I have never seen her relax while in the presence of strange dog (any dog not in our family).

 

Well, this past sat I brought her crate and set it up on the other side of the patio where the dog was going to be working, with a blanket to block the visual if needed. I also came prepared with stuffed kongs and a big bully stick, which she has never seen before. I did my usual (get her used to the dog far away, work closer if she looks ready to, which she did)and then put her in the crate with the blanket covering the side the dog was going to be on (the dog is a good 40ft away). She was too stressed to be interested in the kong or bully stick, but she would take treats. So I then started doing something similar to the Relaxation Protocol we have been working on lately at home: I took a step away, returned and dropped treats in. Took two steps away, dropped treats, 5 steps, took 10 steps and paused etc. I acutally went pretty fast until I was walking quite a distance away, and pausing, and she still looked calm, just watching me, waiting for me to come back with more treats. I then proceeded to teach the class, periodically going back to give treats and quiet praise. She looked pretty calm, and I would have said relaxed, except for the fact that she still was not interested in the bully stick or kong. After about 20 minutes of calm behavior, each time I returned to treat her, I lifted a side of the blanket a little higher, giving her a little more stimulation visually. She did not seem to care in the least! Well, about 30min into our lesson, the other dog got riled up about a stranger that walked through and barked quite a few times at him. Each time the other dog barked I briskly walked over to Kenzie, praising her the whole time, then dropped a jackpot of treats (similar to the sound desensitization we had been doing at home). The dog timed it perfectly...each time she barked she waited until i had treated and returned before barking again =))))  Once the other dog stopped barking, it was a good 10 minutes before I went to treat Kenzie again...and she was laying down with her back to us, chewing on the bully stick!!! She really hardly even cared about me coming over and giving treats! She was actully RELAXED!!! She was not interested in watching that other dog at all! I just could not believe it. Since she looked so relaxed, I decided to end the session with some "Look At That!" (Control Unleashed game, look up www.controlunleashed.net), which she still does not really "get". But it was wonderful, it was the best session of LAT we have had yet, and I think that it was because she was well below her threshold.

 

So anyway, all of this to say that I can see the RP and LAT working! I was starting to get discouraged because it seemed like she was not improving...but this marked improvement that I have to share!!!