Hachi had another excellent week. I remember when "an excellent week" meant that he hadn't acted scarily toward one of our other dogs or had a meltdown when he needed to go outside his comfort zone. Now, it means that he made forward progress in his training! What a nice change.
|When Hachi is happy, he leaps rather than runs when called.|
Hachi's breakthrough this week was with our trainer who is helping train Hachi to be more comfortable with strangers. For now, the trainer is the stranger.
We've been working with the trainer for a couple of months. In the past few weeks, Hachi has begun to do a "happy bark" when she arrives at our house. A happy bark is high pitched, and is extremely different from his warning bark.
Up until now, happy barks were reserved for Hachi's family and a few close friends who met Hachi when he was a tiny puppy.
Up until this week, all of our sessions with the trainer have been outdoors. The trainer tosses him treats in a specific pattern (called "treat-retreat") that first brings him closer to her and moves him away from her with a treat tossed behind him. This week, we took that game INDOORS! The trainer was in our living room, tossing Hachi treats in exactly the same way as she's done outdoors for weeks. Hachi did GREAT!
He woofed a few warning barks when she first came into the house. We immediately launched into the treat-retreat game. Soon, Hachi was within 6' of the trainer, and he was following her cues to sit or down while he waited for a treat. At the end of the session, the Runner and I played the bucket game (for a vet exam) while the trainer watched. It went great.
In the long-term, we hope that Hachi will let the trainer join the bucket game, substituting for the Runner or me. But that will happen at Hachi's pace. We are not in a rush. Hachi needs a slow and consistent approach.
We are overjoyed to see the pieces of our training starting to come together! Maybe, just maybe, Hachi will someday be able to accept strangers near him and be able to go the vet for an unsedated exam. Those are our dreams. In the meantime, we'll keep enjoying the process of rehabbing him.