I cleared some photos off of my cell phone, so here's what we've been up to lately:
I bought a new dumbbell. Actually, a couple... but I think I'm happiest with this one. It's lighter and smaller than any dumbbell Scorch has had before. It's a better fit, and I'm hoping that will help with some of his reluctance to come back over the jump.
Infinite patience with a work puppy.
Visit with his friend Tyson on our South Florida work trip. Tyson is one of the few large, male dogs that Scorch is comfortable with and has been from the start. It's probably because Shepherds are neurotic, just in a different way than Border Collies... but it's close enough that they understand each other.
Norman has been on his best behavior lately. He's decided to be a (relatively) normal, friendly, housebroken, sweetheart of a dog. But snuggling with Wolfie? That was the shock of the century.
Aaaaand that photo just sums up Scorch for me.
We've been working on some relaxation protocols that my trainers recommended, and today I feel like I really saw the benefits. I warmed Scorch up before teaching. I tossed the dumbbell repeatedly like Randy had recommended, and between throws did some quiet stroking like Bev and Lisa recommended. His vocalizations stayed low and he kept focused enough to give me very straight fronts.
My class contained one of the intact Goldens that Scorch loathes. I've been working Scorch around the dogs and he has improved, but hasn't been entirely comfortable. I brought Scorch out for a demo and while I was talking, had him in heel position in a sit. I was slowly stroking the side of his face and encouraged him to lean into me, like Bev recommended. Scorch nearly melted!!! I was so happy to see such a strong effect. He was still ready to work, but it took his anxiety levels down a notch. We're going to keep working on it, but I'm really happy with the progress I've been seeing! Maybe we'll beat those Open demons yet.