I just have to express this right away! I’m bursting with joy! We have done countless repetitions of our exercises with Una: 1) watch me while you walk with me (heeling) and 2) sit and give eye contact. It must be several thousands of repetitions by now 😮
Our hard (fun) work is paying off: now I can very easily “catch” Una even when she gets truly worried by a person or a dog approaching. This is the word that comes to my mind in these situations: I’m catching her away from the path leading to barking and turn her to a path leading to having fun with our exercises.
When I see something that may worry Una, I keep an eye on her. When she looks at the person/dog and pricks her ears, lifting her head high, I can see the potential for a big “WOOF” building up in her chest. I click – and Una deflates immediately, lowers her head and turns to me happily, anticipating the treat. I may need to repeat this (watch-click-treat), but once I have clicked for watching, Una often starts offering eye contact or heeling, depending on whether we walk or stand.
If Una is extremely worried, I need to quickly go between her and the person/dog after the first C-T (click and treat). I know when I need to do this by watching Una: can she concentrate enough to come and get the treat right after the click for watching the person/dog? If not, I need to help her. Una often automatically sits when I turn to her, standing in front of her. I prevent her from peeking by adjusting my position, and she offers eye contact as soon as she can concentrate.
The great thing here is the true change in her emotions, caused by the familiar exercises that Una has learned when she was relaxed! What I mean here is that changing the emotional state is totally different from just suppressing Una’s barking by disciplining her so she doesn’t have the courage to act even when she feels she has to defend herself.
I have known this phenomenon in theory, of course, but it is extremely rewarding (!) to witness it in practice, especially when the change in emotional state is this big!!!
I’m happily bubbling with joy after the experience 😀
A note on the picture and the video: Una has a bandage on the tip of her ear. There is an old wound that keeps opening if Una hits it into something. It started to bleed on Wednesday while we were having a tug-of-war with her leash. She must have banged the tip of the ear on one of the metal locks in the leash while shaking it. When we went swimming, she shook herself repeatedly when wet, of course. After two pool-lengths of swimming, the scab tore off, the ear started to bleed and we had to stop 😦 Well, we used the time that was left for our exercises. Useful for her brain cells, if not for her muscles 🙂