When Dora arrived she was sweet as sweet could be. Except when she wasn’t. She terriered like a boss at times but also shivered and shook and was scared of so many things it was close to impossible develop a plan to start “fixing” her.
The first time she met Wilkie she hid behind me and SCREAMED for a solid 10 minutes.
She’s lived with us over a year and I had ambitions to “solve” her issues with a program of careful desensitization and classes. Then I realized I lived in the middle of a lake, on a large farm, and had too many jobs already.
Little Dora was going to have to carry more than her fair share of the weight for fixing herself.
Blow me over with a feather … not wholly, not to my usual standard but Dora is learning despite me.
She swims, She plays nicely. In the last month she has coped with lots. Her Aunt Sheila came and stayed the night with dogs she has loved but struggled with (mostly her brother!) and she loved every minute of it. Two other overnight guests and my mum and aunt – also tick tick check check after a little yelling about being a terrier. She is accepting Thea yelling her rather than sharing beds and rarely rolls Yen even if overwrought. Her recall is quite incredible and her manners around farm animals and equipment improves daily. She sits, and crates without issue. She likes scenting and loves to
play train. She has strong personal, toy and food play skills. She lets me trim her nails without eating me and I’ve recently started hand stripping her and still have all my fingers accounted for. We spend less than half an hour a month on anything but handling skills and perhaps 2 minutes three times a week on those. But we spend time together. She is walked daily, and does chores with us. She is handled in bed and fed in her crate. All those interactions in a safe consistent way add up it seems.
We had an emergency trip to the vets last week and while terrified and VERY wiggly Dora never once threatened to eat anyone even with our fingers and various implements stuck in her mouth.
She does the dogwalk and aframe confidently and can ride the end of the teeter happily. She is booting through jump standards and driving forward. Some cut grass and some training time and I may have a young agility dog to play with. Who might even be able to play in public. As long as the judge and crew are quiet and still anyhow!
It’s a pleasure to watch her confidence grow – it’s quite funny to see it happen with so little conscious intervention from us.
No great wisdom here. Just remember when things are tough a plan is important, consistency counts but when time can also be quite magical in the right situations.