This post is a continuation of the Reactivity series. If you've missed the previous posts, you can find them in the archives.
Like session three, the write-up for session four is coming a bit late. Grimm attended on August 17. Unlike all of the previous sessions, Grimm attended a Level 2 obedience class for session four. It might have been a little early for that.
In Level 1, Grimm already knew almost all of the content (sit, down, turn around, etc.). The challenge of those classes was in trying to complete those commands around other dogs. Grimm finds it hard to focus on his mom with that kind of distraction. In contrast, the Level 2 class compounded that challenge with all new content. It was very difficult for him.
To everyone else in the room, Grimm probably looked like he didn't belong there. Grimm's mom, however, was very proud of how hard he tried to understand the new commands. Level 2 includes skills like a perfect loose leash walk, a firm stay, holding eye contact until released, and, eventually, a proper "heel". Grimm came into contact with most of these skills for the first time in that class, and he tried his very hardest to internalize them. It wasn't incredibly impressive to watch.
The most important takeaway from these classes, though, is the exposure to new dogs. Additionally, Grimm's mom learns how to improve their at-home training sessions. Since that class, Grimm has made significant progress on most of the Level 2 skills. Most notably, his firm stay has improved greatly (not that it was fantastic to begin with).
Grimm's mom finds these training sessions only moderately helpful, though. When Grimm can't see or hear any other dogs, his obedience skills are improving rapidly. As soon as a single bark is thrown into the mix, however, he seems to forget everything he knows. Even after removing Grimm from a distracting situation, his mom finds that it can take 10-20 minutes just to calm him back down. Again, she can't help but wonder if these classes aren't addressing the real issue with Grimm's behavior.
Of course, it's impossible to reshape a dog's behavior overnight, but they've been working on this for four months with training sessions nearly every day. If there isn't real progress made soon in the presence of other dogs, it might be time to try a new angle.
Have an tips or tricks for when your patience is running low? They'd be really helpful right now. Thx.