Hope you had a nice holiday! Molly and I spent a few days at my Mom’s house. Really good update 🙂
I was able to use both my Mom and sister for some good reps of the distraction training games we played during our lesson and she did excellent! And then, we had a night where my aunt and uncle came over which usually would have sent her over the top- but I was ready having prepped her with some reps of the “break, say hi” exercise before they came and OMG what a difference! She did amazing!
It was almost unlike her because she was SOOO focused on me that she almost wouldn’t even say hi to them, but that is honestly such an improvement for her that I will take that because I honestly NEVER thought that would be possible for her! She was always out of control with excitement when people came over, especially people like my aunt and uncle who are essentially “new” because she rarely sees them so that is extra exciting to her. I was amazed!
I honestly NEVER thought that would be possible for her!
I started holding off treats a bit more to get her to engage more with them in order to see if she would say hi longer- she ended up being able to at times but each time I was still able to call her right back to me! I’m like still in shock lol! And because my uncle is a very loud and extroverted type of character which is especially overstimulating to Molly and she still did amazing!
Also, today back in Boston, we went out on a walk and I used the “click for noticing you exist” technique and basically did a combo of both click/treat for any attention/even turn of the head towards me as well as completely stopping as soon as she got too far ahead. Doing this as well as I think the prep-work of all the exercises we have done around people-distractions resulted in a SUPER loose-leash walk with zero need for the Gentle Leader! She wanted to stay near me and I only had to employ a full stop a few times.
I also found that even in more populated areas where I would usually have to rein her in on a shorter leash due to her tendency to just randomly pick out people that she believes are clearly waiting on the sidewalk for her arrival and/or people talking/laughing loudly and then just walk straight up to them- but today I noticed that due to all the games we had been playing she now is giving ME the attention instead and there was no need to hold her close on leash! Thank you SOOOOO much—you are amazing! Just one lesson and so much improvement! I mean, I will give Molly some of the credit hahaha, she is a smart cookie and has always learned so fast.
Just one lesson and so much improvement!
But wow, this has been what I knew I needed all along but never had another person to do it with- I knew I needed another person to set up these people-distraction practice scenarios like we did in our lesson to teach her the foundations of what I needed her to know when out on the street, but I just never had another person to do that with. Even my Mom, I had asked her so many times and she would say yes but then never was “available” so I think even having her in lessons with us and just her commitment to this in general is now making her want to be more involved and motivated to actually do so. Thank you!!
What a MAJOR difference working with you has been compared to the nightmare of the last service dog program…
Anyways, what I want to add is just what a MAJOR difference working with you has been compared to the nightmare of the last service dog program/scam we went through. From our first meeting even, I remember driving home with my Mom and we couldn’t stop talking about all the differences! I kept saying things like, “and the fact that she even has all those worksheets! And that she even WANTS to talk to my therapist! And that she understands PTSD and CARES enough to want to know what my signs and triggers are when working with me!” I was just shocked, seriously, because the last program had NONE of this. Your worksheets on dog training were well beyond their knowledge and also well beyond the basic time/caring that they spent on their clients/dogs.
Like the fact that you spent time making the client portal and making those sheets and that you KNOW all that stuff- those people had zero training worksheets to give us, no knowledge on training to even tell us beyond just demonstrating a few of the same things every time we saw them with the same demo dog that over time we came to notice was just abused and overly fearful of this man (came out later from several families that the demo dog had actually bitten their children on visits to the kennel, UGH). They also not even once asked to speak nor even write to my therapist, nor even asked me to fill out any worksheets on my disability!
I immediately felt comfortable with you because there is a true level of empathy
You are so incredibly thorough in understanding the person, and I immediately felt comfortable with you because there is a true level of empathy there because this is something you have gone through yourself. I think that really helped me feel comfortable too. Throughout everything so far, you have been so incredibly kind and patient with me and have put me at ease. I can tell that you genuinely want to help me and Molly and that you care about doing whatever you can to help us succeed. Usually with most people, I feel too judged and anxious to work with them on something like this, especially when it involves me performing tasks in front of them. So the fact that I feel I can do it with you says a lot.
As compared to the other program I went to and I’m sure even “good” programs but ones that are just big factories of service dogs that spit out tons of dogs a year, I think that working one on one with someone like you that actually understands and makes such an effort to get to know all aspects of me and Molly’s life together and my disability, I think makes such a difference and I think ultimately is what will set me up for the best success in the long-term.
You go above and beyond by doing things like making accommodations for my disability to make things easier/work better for me such as filming the lessons so I can review them later or working with me to come up with specific ways that I can manage communication to the public about her since that is something I struggle with (the last place never gave me cards like the ones you just emailed me! So thoughtful and helpful- the difference between this and the last place is just so profound and such a welcome relief to me and my Mom that it’s hard to describe in words, we finally feel like we are in the right hands and can relax!). I’m so grateful and happy to have found you and to finally not feel alone in this process!