Great Improvements, But…

January 15, 2014

We had another freestyle class on Monday. Again, A.J. did great. No reaction to the other dogs, he stayed quiet in his crate, and he had great focus. He’s such a show-off. He’s really starting to get the idea on some of these tricks. And last night, for the first time, he did a “Roll over” when I told him, without me having to lead him through. He can be a smart little guy when he wants to be. Then there are other times…

Today was a rough day at the park. He was doing well ignoring the other dogs. Unfortunately he started pulling a lot more today. I finally got fed up and just sat down on a bench. He saw another dog and started to get excited, so I got up and told him “Let’s go” and he turned and started walking away with me. We didn’t go very far and the other dog went away, so I sat back down on the bench. After a few minutes A.J. came over and sat on the ground in front of me. I decided it was time for some focus work.

I reached my hand out in front of him and said “A.J., Paw.” He stood up, but then realized what I said and offered me his paw.

I put my hand out and said “A.J., Smack!” He touched his nose to my hand.

“A.J., Sit!”

A.J. sat.

“Look at me.”

He looked at me.

Four asked-for behaviors in a row! This was fantastic! He was able to focus enough to hear and recognize everything, and to do it. As a reward, I said “OK” and off we went.

We got about three steps before he was pulling like crazy again. He only got worse. Eventually he saw a dog that he decided he needed to flip out over. (Why? I don’t know.) We headed back to the car, me struggling the entire way, A.J. forging ahead.

I am SO tired of this! I’m very proud of him for his improvements, but I don’t know how much more dragging around I can take. I really don’t know what to do about it. Right now I’m thinking of two options: One is more private lessons with Mary, but meeting at a park or some other public setting, so we get real distractions. Two is to try one of those harnesses that goes over the nose and see if that works, or if his neck is strong enough to pull anyway. But I need to do something differently.

And he’s still nuts in the car. Today he went off at a point where there were no cars around me so I swerved the car a little to throw him off balance. I’m not sure if that worked, but the tantrum was a little tamer than usual. Unfortunately I can’t drive around swerving the car every time we see a dog or a bicycle. Or someone pushing a baby stroller, in one case today.

As usual…Sigh.