I have been making a point to work more with Sadie in a positive way. Sadie doesn't look like it but under that big block head of hers she is actually a very sensitive dog. If you get angry around her she will get worried even if you are not actually upset with her. Originally when I was first learning how to train Sadie the classes suggested a lot of corrections. And I will say 1 1/2 year old Sadie was kind of a crazy dog and that helped us get to the point where we could walk her. But when I started working with her one on one recently I noticed that she would go between overly excited about the treats to nervously sniffing the grass or messing up when she wasn't clear what I wanted her to do. Exasperated at all the issues I was having with the dog I thought was pretty well trained I let out a sigh and grumbled to myself a little bit. Sadie then started throwing up all sorts of appeasement and avoidance behaviors and I found that she was so stressed now that I couldn't work with her at all.
I took her back in the house and did some fun hand touches to end the training on a positive note. Sadie was happy but I was not I thought we had a good strong relationship and I found that as far as training went I was wrong. Thinking on it I hadn't worked with her much since we picked up Simon. Nik had taken her to some classes recently but other than that she hadn't been worked with much. And almost nothing with me in over a year. As I cuddled my Sadie girl later that night I made a promise to make a point to work with her more. Sadie and I had gotten very used to spending most of our time together cuddled up and getting pets and loves. She was an easy dog to skip because she has fantastic house manners. But I knew if I wanted to get our relationship to where I wanted it to be we needed to work on being the team I wanted us to be.
With what had happened when I had tried to work with her I knew I needed to kind of start over and work with her from step one.The first thing I did was I stopped feeding her breakfast from her bowl I would feed Simon his breakfast in his kennel and Sadie and I would work using her breakfast as a reward. To cut down on the distractions and issues we starting working just in the house. My main goals were to improve her lose leash walking, her heel position and get more solid on her stays and in doing so build her confidence in her self and in me. She has always been a smart responsive dog so she took to this right away. After a little while of working in the house I took her outside and worked just right in front of our house. When she was doing better with that I moved it to walking around our block and now we are walking further to places she hasn't been before. During our walks we will take breaks to work on downs and sit stays. I also reward her for eye contact and walking on a lose leash.
In the around two weeks we have been working on this her improvement is remarkable. I can now walk Sadie with just her buckle collar and expect lose leash walking most of the time. Granted we are just walking around pretty mellow neighborhoods but it is still a big step. Her response to any tension on the leash is to look and me a walk towards me. She is more willing to leave distractions such as other dogs or kids on bikes than she was before. Her stays have become pretty amazing wither her holding a down stay for over 3 minutes. We also went to a park with Simon I wanted to get some pretty pictures of them and Simon was naughty and Sadie was fantastic. We had dogs barking at us from fenced yards and Simon pulling on the leash and I could get Sadie to walk relaxed at my side and I didn't even have a treat in my hand.
Moving forward my plan is to take a long walk from our house to a busy park a little over a mile away. If she keeps being good we will walk around the park and do some fun agility training if at some point it becomes to much and I can't get her to focus we will just turn around and walk home. I plan to slowly do this to the locations with in walking distance so that she will have had an easy first bit and part of a walk already before she is challenged. Using the method if is working for us we will be able to walk to a few parks, a school, petsmart, and around the local zoo. we might even try to walk to agility class and then we would get a ride home with Nik and Simon.
I am so excited with how good she is doing. She will be doing agility with Nik so it is helping me better balance working with Simon and Sadie. Someday soon I would like to be able to walk both of them at the same time and have them both behave. We are not there yet but is my goal for the summer.