Ladies and gentleman, I give you Rain—a proud graduate of Reactive Rover!
Granted, she may not look that proud in the photo. She didn’t really care for the graduation cap I made for her, evidenced by the poor focus. She was moving around a lot, not really wanting to keep the hat on. Fancy dress takes some getting used to for dogs and humans alike, right?
Rain has come a long way over the last several weeks!
Before our first one-on-one session at Oregon Humane Society, I couldn’t take Rain to a new place and hold a decent conversation with a stranger. Rain would start whining and barking, wanting attention, unless I was keeping her engaged some other way—usually playing ball. If we encountered other dogs or too many strangers on a walk, she’d soon erupt with barks.
She’s now sitting through an hour-long class without much ruckus, provided I have kibble to feed her. She recognizes that keeping quiet is how she earns the food. Yesterday morning we went on our usual morning walk to the local park. Within a few minutes a stranger walked near us, she saw a kitty cat across the street, and another person with a dog walked near us. She didn’t bark once! Only the sight of the kitty made her body stiffen and her satellite ears raise up. She hasn’t barked at the park in weeks at this point. (Although, to be fair, squirrels and kitties continue to be her weakness.)
If meditating over this progress on Thursday morning wasn’t great enough, we had an extra special treat waiting for us at our last class: agility equipment! They had set up an A-frame, a dog walk, table, a couple of low jumps, a panel jump, and a couple of padded stairs and ramps. (There was a low teeter set up for the class before ours which would have been great to try too!)
Rain and I practice faux agility at the park, using the picnic tables and segments of the large play structure. This was our moment!
It didn’t go super well, but it was still really fun. I was excited, so I was taking Rain through new things too quickly. Only after Rain was getting sloppy, jumping off the tiny A-frame too soon, did I realize I was expecting too much and slowed her down so she could get it right. Given how much we’ve practiced her “over” command though, she sailed over the low jumps skillfully.
Over the hour class, the dogs got to come out and use the equipment in the presence of another dog. The lesson being that dogs could be in the presence of another dog and be totally fine, as long as they’re focusing on something else.
It was a great way to end the class!