I've admittedly gotten quite lax with Ruby's training, and have been hesitant to post any sort of progress report because the truth is...we really haven't made a lot of progress, and I am seeing regression in some areas. The blame is entirely on me - I see results when I am consistent and dedicated, and I just haven't been. The summer seemed a bit hectic with an unexpected car purchase and hunting for a new barn for my horse, not to mention that there is more activity in my neighborhood with everyone enjoying the outdoors. Even my usual management methods have a higher rate of failure when there is a dog, a bike or a stroller around every corner.
I feel like Ruby has gotten worse about dogs, although in the last few days we've had a couple of successes where she has for certain seen the dog, but I was able to make an exit without a spinning/lunging/barking meltdown. One of these instances was on our way to the vacant field and Ruby's "digging hill." There was someone with a medium-sized dog walking perpendicular to us about half a block away, and Ruby was so excited to go on a dirt-flinging binge that she couldn't have cared less.
Trigger stacking is a very real issue for us, and I notice it particularly with cars. If we're having a quiet walk, cars can pass unnoticed. If Ruby has just seen another dog or several rabbits, the next car we see warrants a reaction. Luckily, although I live near a very busy street, my townhome complex is in a sheltered area where we can navigate a decent 30-40 minute walk on fairly quiet side-streets and alleys.
The good news is that things are quieting down as the seasons change. School has resumed and I've already noticed a difference in the evenings - kids are inside doing homework instead of rolling down the sidewalk on razor scooters and skateboards. Soon enough our evening walks will be in the dark again - not something I love, but distractions are definitely diminished. Now that Boca has a good foundation I can get back to splitting training time between both dogs.
- Continue Boca's training with focus on gradual exposure to more crowded/complex situations. I plan to take her to the farmers' market this weekend.
- Look into Canine Good Citizen preparation classes for Boca
- Continue recall training with both dogs. Currently I'm able to call them away from barking downstairs with nearly 100% success. Consider long lines.
- Resume solo training walks with Ruby and counter-conditioning with people/cars. (dogs are still very difficult to CC in uncontrolled situations). I believe 2-3 times a week is realistic.
- Brush up on Ruby's tricks and apply for her Intermediate Trick Dog Title before the end of the year.
- Continue working on DRI with Ruby and rabbits. Currently I am asking for a "sit" and this works fairly well.
- Try the Calming Cap in the car with Ruby again.
There is never any shortage of stuff to work on with two smart dogs. Ruby is a complicated puzzle and Boca is a food-motivated goofball. They provide such a nice balance for me and I love seeing the ways their personalities contrast as their individual strengths shine. September and October are my favorite months in Colorado - they always feel so full of promise. I think it is the perfect time to re-dedicate myself to the ginger sisters' training.