Saturday, 19 December 2015

Gatsby's Stay Continued: In Which We Are Told Of The Training That Happened

How do I cope with the desolate reality of not having a dog of my own?

Why, I borrow other people's dogs, of course!

There have been other dogs I appropriated as my own, but my biggest adventure was, of course, The Great Gatsby Project.

While she stayed with me, I walked the adorable 8kg doggie diva almost every day, and:
  • She really grew in confidence. Initially she shied away from people and dogs approaching on walks (her scared ears, pulling me off the path), so when anyone approached I walked her off  the path and we waited until they had passed. Soon she no longer showed signs of fear when people approached. She happily led me past people once or twice without any issues, but I plan to keep stopping by the side of the road and waiting for a while yet, as she’s still bothered by larger groups of people, some dogs, etc.
  • We visited the dog park probably every second walk. We didn't go in, but just spent some time outside the fence. If she led us too close and panicked, we retreated to a 'safe' distance. The aim was to work up to going in.
  • I took her to the shops and she stayed by me while I ate a meal at an outdoor cafe, twice. Whenever strangers wanted to pat her I gave them high-value treats to give Gatsby to remind her that strangers can be a good thing. Gatsby was very, very good at the shops! 

With a canine companion, you never have to eat alone

  • Our family all learnt to use the "Off!" command, and while she never gave up pawing at us, I think it lessened when she realised I was never, ever going to give her my dinner. She still whined when I left the room or when she was left alone for too long, but I tried to wait for a pause or a sit/down before I re-entered the room.
  • I taught her "shake" (shake paws), which is pretty darn cute!
Needless to say, I enjoyed all of this, because I had a companion in my fluffy friend, because every bit of progress was thrilling, and because it was fun!

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