Our meeting went very well. The previous meeting consisted mostly of laying facts out on the table. This week's meeting was much more casual and candid. We talked about agility venues, how good CPE is for dogs like Oreo, and how the shelties at Westminister look nothing like real life shelties.
Mostly though, we talked about Oreo!
After reading 4 months of log sheets, this doctor REALLY gets Oreo. Now that she truly understands Oreo's needs, I feel we are in an even better place to utilize her help.
The doctor told me, "Oreo thinks you're stupid. He doesn't understand why you don't find every little thing scary."
I laughed, but she's right. Oreo feels like it is his job to keep an eye out, because I have the nerve to ignore everything!
Our new plan has a few new elements.
Here are the main points:
1. Continue to work with sit stay. Set Oreo up far from anything too scary. If he scans but looks back to you, click (or YES) and treat. When he is calm, ask for the eye contact on cue.
2. Please don’t use target when he is too distressed to listen.
3. Have the target handy and visible in stressful situations (except those where he is already on a command eg sit stay / lie down on mat or heel). If he decides to touch it then click / treat, but do not ask and do not push it at him.
I have to take Oreo to many places, do sit/stay at a far distance from people and reward for any eye contact or other behaviors that show he is "with me".
Oreo spent most of the appointment either under my chair, or next to my chair. The doctor told me Oreo watched the door almost the whole time.
No surprise there.
At one point, she had me put Oreo in a sit stay. I had to drag him out from under the chair, but he did do a sit. Then, Oreo was able to give me occasional eye contact. The doctor told me Oreo lit up once he knew what to do.
The doctor also told me that Oreo must find agility very rewarding, because he wouldn't do it otherwise. That made me feel real good, because I always wonder if he likes it, or if he is simply going through the motions. She hopes I continue to do agility, and not switch over completely to rally.
I was worried she would say the opposite!
We will work the new plan for awhile, send her videos, and then meet the doctor in a different location to work with her on desensitization stuff. The office where we have been meeting is downtown, and we could never retreat far enough from people, because people are everywhere.
Obviously, we still have a long way to go. It is wonderful having the doctor's support and guidance.