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post #1 of 38 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 09:35 PM Thread Starter
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HUGE BREAKTHROUGH!!!

I'm so excited!!! We've been going to the dog park 4-5 times a week for the last 4-6 weeks and in the last week Tess has been making progress in leaps and bounds - literally!

Today was a major breakthrough. I've had glimpses of many of these activities over the last year but rarely was any activity maintained for more than a few seconds. Well I don't know what made today so special but when Tess makes a breakthrough, she goes all out!!!
- When Cody climbed on my chest this morning for his ear rubs and snuggles, Tess frog-crawled up to the crook in my arm, gave me kisses and then rolled over for belly rubs. Cody got up ready to start his day and Tess stayed in bed with me, butt in the air, tail wagging, wanting to be petted and loved on.
- When I came home for lunch she wanted to play
- Before we went to the dog park she chased a little stuffed toy and ran around the house with it. (This has been an activity she's only started in the past few days.)
- At the dog park tonight SHE RAN AROUND, BUTT TUCKED, TONGUE OUT, EARS FLAPPING LIKE A LITTLE WILD DOG for 5-10 minutes. Not only was I amazed, everyone else in the park that knows her was too - they were all cheering. She even played chase with two of the other dogs!!! That was an absolute first.
- When we got home, after 2 hours at the park, Cody crashed but not Tess. She was initiating play with me - chasing me through the house, chasing a toy, giving me little play growls and barks; then she was initiating play with Cody - nipping at his heels, rolling on her back and biting at his ears and neck, trying to steal his toy.

I don't even have the words to describe how huge this has been for us. They are all normal activities for the average dog and it seems silly to be so excited but I thought the best we could do was to reach a point where Tess wasn't afraid around other dogs and people - not approach them or interact with them, just not afraid. Well forget that, no telling what this little character will accomplish!!!

And who else would understand and share my joy than all of you???

(Sorry, no pictures, it was getting too dark and I was too surprised!)

Jill - Tess & Cody's mom

Last edited by Jill in Mich; 09-11-2009 at 09:37 PM.
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post #2 of 38 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 09:58 PM
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Oh Jill! How heartwarming! What did you put in Tess' water? lol Ah, we can totally understand how huge a deal this is. I have seen mill dogs and sometimes all we hope for is for the dog to be content and know that he's safe. To go all out like your little girl did is very exciting!!




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post #3 of 38 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 10:01 PM
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Oh, Jill, what a joyous picture today has been for you! I'm so excited, along with you! I imagine that all you've been working on SO hard with her allergies has to have made a huge difference in her, and maybe she's now got energy enough to show she trusts you and is enjoying her life.

I'm all smiles for you!!!

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post #4 of 38 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 10:01 PM
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post #5 of 38 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 10:02 PM
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Jill, that is the most wonderful news ever!!!I am so happy for Tess. She has come such a long way. Maybe next time you will get pictures Your post has given me hope for Marble since he's having a really hard tine interacting with dogs. Keep up the good work with Tess!
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post #6 of 38 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 10:21 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by marb42 View Post
Jill, that is the most wonderful news ever!!!I am so happy for Tess. She has come such a long way. Maybe next time you will get pictures Your post has given me hope for Marble since he's having a really hard tine interacting with dogs. Keep up the good work with Tess!
Gina
Gina - I know most of the books say not to cater to your dog if they are acting shy/scared when around other dogs but I haven't followed that advice and I think it's been better for Tess. When Tess gets overwhelmed or really scared, she almost goes catatonic. It just didn't feel right to leave her on the ground to "tough it out" so I pick her up and hold her or put her in her fundle. Sometimes for just a few moments, other times much longer. When/if she calms down and looks like she's interested in the activity, I put her back down.

Tonight was one of those situations. There were a couple of 20-lb Wheaten Terriers in the small dog section. A group of small dogs got a little wild with the Wheatens and Tess got caught in the middle of their romping. She barked at them and ran at them (to try and chase them away), one of the Wheatens thought she wanted to play and started chasing her. It put Tess in a panic - you can just see it come over her. I picked her up and calmly waited until her heart slowed down. I don't make a big deal out of it and don't pay a lot of attention to her, I just hold her close and pet her. Then I put her back on the ground. It was within just a few minutes that she started running around - first chasing me, then running circles around the park.

I really think it's helped that she's been able to watch the other dogs play and interact from a safe spot. She's clearly watched the other dogs at the park and then tried their behavior out in the safety of our house. It's also been good for her to be in the middle of things when they get a little wild with the other dogs to learn she'll survive. (Although I watch her reaction closely and pick her up when she's reaching the point of panic.)

And yes, I'll make sure to get pictures next time!

Jill - Tess & Cody's mom
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post #7 of 38 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 10:31 PM
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Well, whatever you're doing is working with Tess, and I guess everything in a book doesn't apply to each dog and for each situation. I imagine if they get traumatized enough by forcing them to remain on the ground when a big dog is intimidating them could lead to future avoidance and fear. It's always tricky (for me anyway) to know the right way to handle these things. But, you are doing great with her, and the breakthrough is wonderful!
Gina

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post #8 of 38 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 11:14 PM
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That's just a beautiful story! Good to hear!

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post #9 of 38 (permalink) Old 09-12-2009, 04:58 AM
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Jill,
That is wonderful! I can hear the love and excitement in your posting and it is adorable.

Can I ask how long had you been going to that dog for her to feel comfortable and how often is she around the same/similar group of dogs

P.S. Next time, video!!!

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post #10 of 38 (permalink) Old 09-12-2009, 07:00 AM Thread Starter
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Jill,
That is wonderful! I can hear the love and excitement in your posting and it is adorable.

Can I ask how long had you been going to that dog for her to feel comfortable and how often is she around the same/similar group of dogs

P.S. Next time, video!!!

We've been going to this dog park and 4-5 times a week (and a larger park about once a week) for the past 4-6 weeks. The majority of dogs (4-8) at the park near my house we see on a regular basis so Tess has become familiar with them and their owners. For the most part she shies away from the active dogs but has become much more comfortable in approaching the other calm or shy dogs.

They just installed a pass system this week and surprisingly we're seeing a new group of dogs. Last night was 3 regulars and 3 new dogs - two of them (the Wheaten terriers) much larger than are usually allowed in the small dog section.

This has definitely been another good reminder for me in the lesson of patience and persistence. If I had quit going after once or twice of her not liking the park I would have denied her (and myself) of so much!

And you got it - I'll try for a video of a Tess RLH in the park (never thought I'd say that!!!)

Jill - Tess & Cody's mom
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