Goals for April

I’ve been coasting. Since I put Silas on his medication in the fall, I have to confess that I’ve done very, very little training with him. After our last behaviorist visit in December, my dog training collapsed. It was just such a relief that I didn’t have to be working through something every minute. I didn’t have to make visible improvement to show the doctor. I didn’t have to deal with Silas barking at something 30 times a day. (We’re down to somewhere between 2 and 6, I’d guess, depending on how noisy the neighborhood is.)

Mostly, I’ve been resting on Silas’s somewhat tenuous laurels as a pretty good dog as long as nothing bothers him. He’s a great companion around the house, and in all honesty it’s not hard to arrange my life so that very little crosses him. People will talk on the sidewalk and dogs will bark, but I don’t have to have people over, or take him to parks where he can see cars, or drive him anywhere that someone will walk up to our car while its stopped. (It the double-edged sword of reactive dog ownership–after a while, you don’t even realize how much you’re compensating.)

It’s time to get back to work.

To that end, April has three deceptively modest goals.

1) Work on Silas’s focus. I want to start moving some of his great indoor behaviors outdoors, but we’ve got to build a little better foundation first. Silas outside has the attention span of a squirrel. Maybe less. I don’t want him to gaze adoringly at me all the time, which I find creepy, but we can search for a happy medium.

2) Go to the park twice a week. I would say three times, but April here can be pretty wet. If it’s a total mud pit outside, I will cheat and substitute PetSmart, but if it’s actively raining I can’t risk traumatizing him.

3) Get back in the habit of daily training sessions.

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11 thoughts on “Goals for April

    1. I’ve never mentioned it by name because I’m afraid it will attract a torrent of spammers. It’s actually the one your vet said she didn’t like. My behaviorist said she liked to start there, because it has the most extended trials with dogs. But, yes, she was upfront that it doesn’t work for every dog. I actually wonder if we should switch Silas to something else. He’s on a very low dosage for a dog his size, and it still suppresses his appetite a lot. I can’t raise his dosage, which would probably make some of my counterconditioning work go much faster, because I think he’ll stop eating entirely. Plus, while he’s better, he’s definitely still on edge.

      I’ll actually put it right out there that I think *many more* dogs should be on psychiatric medication. It was a little bit of a hurdle for me at first, Then I realized that I don’t feel bad because my mother takes the medication my dog does, so why should I feel bad about giving it to the dog?

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  1. You summed up my year so far, too. I’ve gotten to the point where I can (largely) accommodate our lives so that Lucas isn’t faced with anything that messes with him, which means we’re not working on anything. We’ve had so much indoor exercise this year that, I’m sure, their walking skills are shot. I love your goals, and I’m sure you’ll make a lot of headway. You’ve inspired me to rethink the month ahead…

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    1. I imagine that your town is a lot like the one my mom lives in. If we lived there full time, Silas would never walk, either. (Bad roads for walking plus loose dogs everywhere.)

      Glad to be an inspiration! I’ll wish us both the best of luck with our follow-through.

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