After feeling like Hachi's progress was stuck for weeks, he now seems much more relaxed. It may be that we humans have been maxed out recently, moving back and forth multiple times per week and feeling completely exhausted.
As soon as we got to Lab Valley, we humans relaxed and so did Hachi. I'm sure that our mood affects him but I also think that the opportunity to be off-leash (while supervised) multiple times per day makes a huge difference to him.
On Sunday afternoon before another snow storm moved in, we had a mellow walk and then simply hung out in the meadow by the house. The two pups quietly explored the newly uncovered grass 45 minutes or so. There was no raucous playing while they both seemed to decompress from the recent stress.
Then, Hachi wanted to play but Shyla was reticent. So, Hachi did something that is pretty new to him. He lay down on his back to invite Shyla to play. If you think about it, it takes a lot of trust and confidence to assume such a helpless position. It worked.
Soon, they were really playing, with some chase and some wrestling.
They danced a bit too!
We are so hopeful that, during this break in frenetic activity, Hachi will zoom forward in terms of his behavior. When he is able to relax, he's a different dog.
It's been very interesting listening to a Podcast called Cog-Dog Radio by Sarah Stremming. She is a trainer who handles very tough cases. One of her first recommendations for dogs like Hachi is to find someplace where it's safe for them to have off-leash time at least a couple of times per week. She says that many behavior issues are solved by this simple step. The hard part is finding such a place especially when your dog is reactive.
Even before I'd found her podcast, we'd come to realize that off-leash time made a huge different to Hachi. Due to an influx of people at our old place, that had become impossible. I'm so glad that we have a new place where it is absolutely fine!