The Education of Mr. Sweet Cheeks, aka Calvin – part 2

Calvin was ready to go when I arrived, wiggles, wags, licks, and wanted his harness on!

We started out and he had AMAZING check ins, kept looking back at me, hand touches, wanted to be engaged, sat easily at the cross walks. He definitely liked his first outing enough to remember what worked for him. He totally made me smile!

We walked easily up to MSU campus and found a nice shady spot int he grass to work on some positions like sit and down. He really wanted to work, and all of the distractions around him did not throw him off at all.

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Out of everything we passed and did today on campus, it was one dam squirrel that turned his brain into sauerkraut! Just one, not a whole grove of trees with squirrels, just one squirrel. We had minimal attention for awhile, but he was still able to handle the environment with as much grace as any adolescent dog.

The only reaction he had was to a toddler and baby carriage across the street. The toddler screamed with joy about something, and it really startled him, and he barked hard. That was the only bark I heard all morning.

He fell in love a couple of times, and a couple of people fell in love with him. So I would call today successful on all levels.

Passing People was a bit smoother today. I would imagine with each day out and about, this will become consistent.

Strategies for passing people – When out and about, it a person or persons are walking towards you, allow your dog to look at them and then have a word for stepping off the path or sidewalk while continuing to walk. I used the word phrase “on by”.

I would not suggest making your dog sit while others pass as he finds comfort in movement for sure.

So choosing environments is going to be very important, you need to be on sidewalks, or paths that have generous amounts of space that you can move onto while passing. No narrow passages, no narrow trails, no sidewalks that have a street on one side and stores on the other. ENVIRONMENT and choosing the right ENVIRONMENT are super important.

He definitely would chase small prey if given the chance, so would most young adolescent dogs. However Calvin will come off of staring at prey, or watching it run, or fly, with a simple smooch noise, and redirecting.

Strategies for redirecting attention – When out and about, walking and allowing your dog to look at the world around them is super important, but if they start to become aroused or reactive to anything that is moving, make a smooch noise and turn the other way, and REWARD as you are walking away from the stimulus. Some walks you may do this twice, others walks you may do this about two thousand times.

So again, choose your environment carefully, and be prepared to do more detours than destinations.

Once he became aroused today it was very hard for him to bring himself down again. He remained up and aroused for more time than I would like to see. So we moved off to a shady spot, had a drink, relaxed, took ourselves out of motion, and I waited for a deep breath before we started our walk home.

Strategies for modulating arousal – If your dog starts to become overly aroused by small prey animals, movement, people, anything. Find a place that is a bit more peaceful, and just take a relationship break. Eat, drink, breathe.

Once a dog becomes aroused, if they cannot bring themselves down rather quickly, and continue to ratchet up in arousal, you should be working at home of play/settle, play/settle. Bring emotions up, and then settle and bring them down. I would be practicing this often to help an easily aroused dog learn how to function on a full emotional spectrum, but not hang in any one place for too long.

Calvin wants exercise, he is a good walker, but adding fetch and some other directed activities would be great.

Special side note –

We walked until Calvin was able to eliminate while on leash, YAY!

I brought a water bottle and had him drinking out of my hand so he could stay hydrated.

He wanted to meet a few people today so we did, and he was lovely.

Desensitizing to the sound of children from a distance will be something to work on consistently. He didn’t seem to have any context for children or baby carriages.

PLEASE watch his video, it will give you an idea of HOW MUCH he did today, and he was a champ!

Keep sending good thoughts and vibes his way! ~ Nancy

ENTIRE SERIES

12 thoughts on “The Education of Mr. Sweet Cheeks, aka Calvin – part 2

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