I didn’t think I’d survive Honey’s puppyhood.
It was like living with a fuzzy little land shark.
Honey was sooooooo mouthy. She had to put those sharp little razor teeth on everything–my hair, my ears, my hands, my sweater, my bodacious tatas. I swear I spent the first two months of Honey’s life with us in tears.
But eventually the learning kicked in. She got her adult teeth. And today, Honey has amazing bite inhibition.
Sometimes it’s good to go back to the beginning and see just how far my little biting monster has come.
Review Where You Began
I’ve checked out two resources for working with fearful, reactive dogs lately. Our trainer lent me the DVD series, TACT: A Training Program for Dogs that Are Fearful or Reactive Toward People. And I picked up Debbie Jacobs’ Guide to Living With and Training a Fearful Dog.
Both recommend keeping a progress journal.
Of course I haven’t done it. But my husband reminded me today how far Cherie has come in the short time she’s been with us. So I began thinking about why I should chart our dog training progress.
Why We Need to Track Our Progress
- Because our brains are bad historians. Shortly after we accomplish something, our brain moves on to thinking about what we have yet to do.
- So we don’t get stuck. If a goal is particularly hard to reach, we get bogged down without realizing how much we’ve already done.
- Earlier progress holds clues to moving other goals forward. If we can see how we reached one goal, we might figure out the key to completing the next step.
- To be compassionate toward ourselves. When we don’t review our progress, we feel like a failure.
- To be compassionate toward our dog. So we can appreciate how much they’ve done already.
Yep, that sounds pretty convincing. I need to look back.
Charting Chérie’s Progress
Last Friday we had a low day. But Chérie has made amazing progress. And we need to celebrate how far she’s come.
|Barked at everyone walking by the front porch
|Sits quietly when anyone walks by as long as they don’t stop
|Took nearly an hour to walk six blocks; frequently refused to move
|Walks continuously and will follow when I say, “let’s go”
|Would not sit on cue
|Sits on cue where she feels comfortable–in the house, on the porch, or on a walk if she’s on her “mat”
|Did not play with toys
|Comforts herself by chewing on Nylabones
|Freaked out by ordinary household sounds–cupboard closing, computer turning on, items going in the recycling bin
|Ignores many common sounds or recovers quicker with new sounds
|Ran away at sight of laundry hamper, trash can, or broom being moved
|Still shy but recovers quickly and will respond to clicker shaping her closeness to a new object
|Did not know her name
|Responds to the sound of her name, sometimes even on walks
|Frequently pulled on leash to go toward the street
|Ignores the street and walks on the sidewalk
Pretty good, huh? I think Chérie has a lot to be proud of.
And I feel better too.
Have you ever kept a training log? Do you consider your blog or other social media site a record of the work you’ve done?