Even though we've been at our old place for a while now (construction is too intense for us to be at Lab Valley), Hachi has had a good week. He has been so affectionate with me and the Runner, spontaneously giving us kisses and snuggles.
In bigger news, he's continuing to have a more muted response to strangers on the trails. Sometimes, if they are at a great enough distance, he doesn't even bark. That blows my mind when it happens.
Every single day, we play the "bucket game" for handling with him. I won't lie - it is going slowly. We are both feeling as if plain old counterconditioning might be working better. However, we will keep at it as long as our behavior team still thinks that it might work.
We also still play with Hachi every single morning. All three of us love it, and we humans think that it may be the single most important thing that we do with Hachi. While we play, Shyla gets personal time with her "machine", which is a Pet Tutor that is set to a program that delivers treats when she is quiet for a certain period of time. I think that her Pet Tutor time might be Shyla's favorite thing all day!
We also try to do Hachi's Relaxation program every day. It's a short training session that is designed to teach Hachi to relax whenever he's on a certain mat. It seems to be working but we still do it only at times of the day when he tends to be sleepy.
Moreover (this is a time intensive dog!), I try to practice putting on Hachi's harness every day. Putting on his harness has been a long term issue for him. It seems to terrify him, and his body language while it's being put on worries me. Just today, I managed to put the harness over his head without him becoming so worried. That was a great moment!
I decided to list all the stuff that we are doing with Hachi just so you'd know that it's a big undertaking to try to help a dog like him. Through a couple of years of having him in the family, we've become very committed to him so we are willing to spend the time. I still believe that there will come a day when we'll look back at his early years as a long-ago memory, kind of like how I have trouble remembering how fearful Shyla was as a youngster.