Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What a Difference a Year Makes

Chou Chou is still a puppy. But she is older and braver. When she came to me, after spending her first 8 weeks in a rural area, she was afraid of the traffic outside my home. 

She was afraid of the vacuum (on or off), a new food bowl, and she ran away from a bottle of dishwasher liquid in my hand (so I put it down for her to explore and she gradually crept up to it). 

Halloween season was tough for her last year. We often walk around the block after dark, a quiet and peaceful time. But the decorations on the lawns and houses scared her, and it was difficult for me to coax her to move forward. 

I've worked with her daily to increase her confidence and socialize her. I take her wherever I can, to meet new people young and old, and other dogs, to teach her to be comfortable in diverse situations, the more distractions the better. And with a lot of time and patience in training, the reward is a relaxed pup who can handle change and novelty.

This year, she ignored lawn tombstones, life sized skeletons, and flying witches hanging from trees, and trotted along with me, taking it in stride. 

Then she saw the 90 gallon garbage can at the curb. She  froze, in the alert way that briards do when they are assessing the situation. A treat enticed her to follow me past it, to turn the corner and go home. ("I taught you to feed me a little cookie when I stand still and stare at something. Tasty !") 

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