Sunday, May 23, 2010

Take THAT World!

Oh. My. Dog. Today was the most amaaaazing day for Bizz! After getting rained in yesterday, the dogs had to spend the majority of the afternoon by themselves as I met with clients. I assumed the moment I got home, Bizzle would be in a terrible, rambunctious, bouncing-off-the-wall mood.  Well, she was. :) We suited up and I knew, I just knew in my gut, that I was not mentally prepared for this walk to go poorly.  I'd had a long day, a long weekend and I needed today to go well.

Usually when I telepathically beg and plead with Bizz in this manner, it somehow communicates to her "Go berserk and react to anything that moves." Today, however, the gods of reactivia (that's not a yogurt) decided to smile upon us.

We saw a total of ten fuh-reaking dogs!! Bizzle reacted!! The first dog is whom we refer to as the Balcony Ambush.  He's a fiesty Dobie that very silently lies in wait and as soon as you're underneath him, he erupts in snarls and scrabbling and nails scratching on the deck.  Trust me, it's very dramatic.

The second and third dogs came as a pair.  Two lanky, well-mannered Greyhounds that may have some issues of their own because their owners tend to always keep a 100 yd. distance from us. Bizzle was so calm that we got to practice our "Coooool! Look, it's a dog!" game. Repeatedly, Bizzle calmly looked at them and then looked back at me. I had to tell myself not to get too excited - this will blow up in my face any second.

The fourth was, and always is, one of our biggest challenges.  He's the kind of dog some "Alpha" people dream of owning.  He's a beautiful Dobie who was taught using the strictest of training.  His person expects no less than 100% compliance because, well, he said so. His person also let's this pretty boy traipse up and down the sidewalk, pooping here, peeing there, claiming this, barking at that...all while he gabs on his cell phone (never to return to pick up the countless piles of feces his dog leaves behind...grrrr!).  Why? Because that's just who this guy is. If his dog decides to run after something, he loves to wait until the very last second before recalling him. Just to show off how wonderfully trained his four-legged trophy is. Normally, I have a pretty big scowl on my face when it comes to this guy. He's let his dog run up on mine in the past so I expected that this time but like I said, the planets must have been aligned because today as he talked into his cell phone, he also commanded a "sit" and "stay" of his dog. Could it be!?! This afforded Bizz a chance to walk by without the pressures of a moving target. We got within 30 feet when I saw what was actually happening: the Dobie was hard-staring at Bizz!! His ears were tight in the air, his neck was craned forward just a tad and his chest didn't even move as he breathed. He was watching her like he wanted her for dinner! That is VERY intimidating for a dog like Bizz...or any dog for that matter.  But she did great - not one bark!! We got past the dog and I threw down a fistful of cheez-its, freeze-dried chicken and freeze-dried fish.  Eat up Bizzuckachu. You deserved that!

Even after such great successes, I found it hard not to be a skeptic when we approached the next six dogs individually.  Granted, we still had to do exercises like "touch" and "ready, set, get it!" (I throw a bunch of food on the ground and she gets to forage). I also had to sprint a couple times to get out of the line of fire. But as long as Bizz doesn't get a chance to react, then I'm willing to do anything!

We came a loooong way today.  Honestly, I don't know what it was about the formula that made it all work today.  I was using semi-new treats. I was alert and paying more attention to detail (something I've found I do when I come back from appointments with clients). I remained upbeat no matter how I felt inside. Somehow, it just all worked.

I told my boyfriend I felt bad that I didn't say thank you to Arrogant Cell Phone Guy.  I should have thanked him for putting his dog in a sit/stay - that was a kind gesture towards me and I have no doubt it was a contributing factor for Bizz's success today. Next time I see him I'll let him know how grateful I am that he did that.  I don't care how many piles of his dog's poop I have to step in if it means my dog gets a chance to learn. :)



  1. Congratulations! It's fun for us to reinforce our dogs' good behaviors, but even more exciting when their behavior reinforcers our hard work! Good job, E & B!

    Casey Lomonaco
    Rewarding Behaviors Dog Training

  2. Good job to you both. It's so rewarding to have one of those days with a reactive dog.

    I remember the first time Shadow and I were able to walk without a single reaction toward another dog. It was all I could do to remain calm and rational for the rest of the walk.