Figuring Out Schedules, Smart Dogs, and Excellent Progress!
So today started out productive. I decided to set up a training schedule for Jessabelle and Angel. Angel will now only be worked in the evenings, as I need mornings and early afternoons to focus on Jessabelle's public access training. Now on to more important things.
In other news, Angel has discovered a weakness in the outdoor kennel that we now have to fix. She discovered that she can push up on one corner of a kennel panel and squeeze herself through the hole she made. After finding her loose in the backyard (which wasn't a huge problem because our backyard is large, interesting, and very secure) we decided to start crating her in the garage at night just in case she got out and got into a fight with a raccoon or opossum or something. The bad part about it is that she tore open her nose while escaping the kennel, but luckily I keep a first aid kit on hand and treated it with some antibiotic ointment.
When my roommate was grilling tonight in the backyard, I took the opportunity to work with Angel on some obedience to see what she knew. We went over Sit, Stay, Down, and Come. She knows all of them fairly well but finding a motivator is proving difficult. I tried meaty training treats, I tried cubed cheese, I tried milkbones, with little interest. She seems to be more interested in working for praise than anything, which is fine with me.
We went out on a walk after dinner. Angel was actually really excited about her walk and even stuck her nose in the headcollar willingly, which shows that she really likes it. She fought me about the muzzle though. I did file down the sharp edges on it so that it won't hurt her until I can get the Baskerville. Once we got out walking she calmed down though. We had an interesting moment that just proves further how good of a dog she is, though. Someone was lighting off illegal fireworks and they sounded like cannons going off. Angel didn't even flinch, when I, on the other hand, jumped darn near out of my skin every time. We went past some little yappy dogs behind a fence and she looked at them, but I blew the whistle like I have been and she stopped paying attention to them and we went on. We walked up to the nearby park and watched the stars come out, there were a lot of people there but since Angel is fine around people I wasn't worried. I was glad the people there hadn't had any dogs with them. After about 15 minutes, we started home.
Angel's biggest breakthrough yet happened on our way home. We passed back by the same little yappy dogs we'd gone by on our way to the park because I figured it would be good to use them to work more with her. Angel looked at them once briefly when we walked by the first time but after being distracted by the whistle she continued. Then, much like yesterday with the beagle, I walked her by them again. She didn't even look at them this time. Not even once, even though they were all barking like crazy. I had to walk her by them a third time to get back headed home, and she didn't pay them any mind at all that time either. This was huge, coming from a dog that has an active bite history involving a small breed dog. The fact that she could completely ignore what was believed to be a trigger in just a few short sessions was amazing, and left me feeling very positive about her future. I called her family to tell them the great news, and they were very happy to hear about her small success. She was happy to get back home and got a nice long drink before going into the garage to go to sleep for the night.
I contacted some local pet groups on Facebook to see if I could recruit some volunteers to help me work with Angel, so far no one has replied but I'm hoping someone will agree to help us along. I can't rely on dogs in their yards for everything, Angel has got to be able to tolerate triggers without a fence separating her from them eventually.