In December I took Nootka to a play at the Surrey Arts Centre and she was really good with tons of distractions – lots of excited little kids, crowds of people, music, crowd noise (it was a pantomime so audience participation was constant, loud, noisy cheering and shouting). She maintained a down for the entire performance with the help of her regular kibble treats. She greeted my friends and their kids appropriately when we met at the theatre – it was a great outing for her and I was really proud of how well she did.

On a day when it was absolutely pouring with rain in the last week of December, neither she nor I wanted to spend much time outside so I set up an obstacle course in my garage using a step ladder laid down flat on the floor (stepping over each rung and the opening got progressively smaller towards to the top part of the ladder), a boot tray (textured bottom and slippery, the divider grill from her wire kennel (texture like a grate which she has avoided in the past), two rolled up mats wrapped in plastic (weird surface that made a noise), a Rubbermaid step-stool (for her to put her front paws on and hold), a small dog bed (she has been obsessed with it in the past, biting, chewing, running with it in her mouth) and then a taller rubbermaid container (maybe 14 inches high) and then a blanket.

I led her through the course once and second time around she went through the whole thing herself! She didn’t touch the bed just did a “down” and waited for me to put the kibble on it before I told her “this way” to go through the rest. She held her position on the small step-stool and checked in (we’ve been working on that) and then when she got to the bigger container she actually jumped up on it and sat down (we have not learned or worked on jumping up on anything yet). She ended in a voluntary down on the blanket. Amazing! Nootka really loves to work and she did not seem motivated by food – it felt like she was having fun and showing off a bit with how long she could hold her positions.

My goals for January are more socialization with other dogs and more exercise; continue working on her separation anxiety building up the time I can leave her alone in her kennel to a more acceptable level; continue working on her clamping down/bite behaviour and understanding appropriate chew toys; continue to use the gentle leader as needed with a goal of getting her loose leash walking back to stellar status without using it at all.

Submitted By: Caroline Lewis