Read Part One here
Read Part Two here
Read Part Three here
Read Part Four here
it all worked to a certain extent. it all would have worked much better if we were more rigid about maintaining order and discipline, which clearly we are not.
riley now has to SIT for his food, and SIT before we go on walks, and SIT and LIE DOWN for his treats. we worked hard on making him come when called, every single time, and got closer to seven out of ten, which was an improvement over the three or four out of ten that we had been at.
we also worked on getting him to not fear the vacuum cleaner. he can now be within inches of the roaring machine and not panic, as long as one of us is stuffing treats into his mouth the entire time. he still barks when we vacuum, but now he barks because he thinks he deserves food whenever we do. needless to say, that is great incentive for us to vacuum much less. so we appreciate that development.
he hated the gentle leader--hated it. we tried leaving it on all the time, as dr. A had suggested, but it did not calm him down. it was clear that it greatly annoyed him. it rubbed the hair off his face where it encircled his nose, and on walks he spent a great deal of time diving face first into the grass or the snow to try to rub the thing off his head. when he got to the point where he ran and hid at walk time, we decided enough was enough. a boy should enjoy his walk!
so we switched to a chest harness, which still gave us control of him on walks but avoided the snout agony.
i started carrying a bag of treats with me everywhere i went, which made, over time, a pretty significant difference in my ability to control him and distract him from things he feared. it felt like a major victory the day a rollerblader went past and riley's first reaction was to target my hand with his snout, looking for a treat, rather than lunge and bark at the rollerblader.
(don't get me wrong--he still lunges and barks, but it's much more random. which makes him even more unpredictable, i guess.)
my treat bag also had a profound effect on boscoe; that is, he started demanding treats on walks, too. for a while doug and i both carried treat bags, but then boscoe started getting chunky, and .... oh, there is no perfect system.
riley's personality has not changed. he remains wary and nervous and a bit standoffish. he still barks, sometimes, at children, but we are much more comfortable that we can control him. i think this picture of him with my niece sums it up nicely: she can be in the same room with him, she can pet him, he's not barking and lunging but he's not exactly enjoying it, either.
that's riley. that's our Wild Boy. that's the way he is. and we love him.
Henriette Lazaridis Power & Finn
9 minutes ago