I apologize, but the only picture of the blue 1st place ribbon he received in Level I was torn up because I left it dangling off the kitchen counter. I wonder who could have shredded it up??? Not my Dutch!
It’s now eight weeks later, and this Saturday, we’re finishing level II obedience training. He is 100% spot on, unless distracted by other dogs. Unfortunately, he can still be very reactive. I always have to be so vigilant, and prepared to pull out the ball on a rope to distract him and reel his attention back to me. When there are no dogs in sight, he’s very reliable with me while walking around town around all kinds of people, sounds, vehicles, etc.
Lately, he’s become extremely protective when he’s in my Suburban or Tahoe. We take him everywhere, so it’s not a new situation, but while he doesn’t bark at other cars, he will launch a full-scale attack from the vehicle to scare off people we pass who are merely walking down the sidewalk! And, when he’s in our parked car, and someone approaches, the car literally rocks around while he’s bouncing around inside, and barking to scare them away. I’m almost afraid to take him out for a walk downtown, so we park down a quiet side street. Once he’s out and heeling along beside me, he’s absolutely fine! You wouldn’t believe he’s the same dog! He’s very well focused on me while walking around town around all kinds of people, hearing sirens, loud trucks, etc. But, as I mentioned above, when another dog appears, he locks on that dog as if it were the greatest threat to our lives. I try to stay calm, and pull out the rope ball, and swiftly walk by as we play tug. He has no interest in food lures at all – when he’s really amped up, he’ll only respond to the balls, squirrels, robits, etc. While this is working for now, I don’t see much improvement yet. Perhaps his testosterone level is still rising as he approaches 11 months old. What do you think? He’s so smart and perceptive. I wonder if he senses my heightened alert level around other dogs, and is also reacting WITH ME.
At this time, I know he can’t pass the CD test because he will not just sit there as someone approaches with another dog for a meet-and-greet. I plan to continue to work with him on the sidewalks of our local towns, and attempt to de-sensitize him to other dogs. He will soon begin agility class, but that is a semi-private class with one other dog, a 3-yr old German Shepherd owned by Amy, one of the assistant instructors. Apparently, her dog is not great around others, either, so we may spend more time learning how to be civil than how to run the course! Maybe we’ll be taking turns inside the fenced-in course.
Lisa Corbitt, the head of the Berkshire County training program, has been trying to convince us to neuter him. That’s not going to happen; we’ve researched it thoroughly.
Dutch is such a fantastic dog, loved and admired by our family, friends, and visitors we invite over. Sometimes, I swear he’s part human. But really, we have a big, happy, exuberant youngster, full of fun, who is ready to play all the time, even when approached by a life-threatening shih-tzu!