Weekly Training Update (Nov 14)

In our ongoing efforts to resume Lilly’s behavior modification, which got sidetracked by her rattlesnake bite to the face Labor Day weekend (and weeks of prez campaign work), we conned Tom once again into playing the “stranger” in our training scenarios. Sometimes Tom’s creativity and independent spirit overtake our work.

Monday night, he draped a sweatshirt over his head, with the arms swinging out front as he walked like something out of a kitschy horror movie. The first time (in the various tasks) that he got close to us, Lilly barked, but then she settled in for the remaining tasks. She sat and ate, on cue. I almost said “happily” sat, but that’s not entirely true. She sat, relatively calm, and tolerated the exercises.

At the end, however, when she had the opportunity to interact with “the stranger,” she chose not to … even though I’m pretty sure she knew is was Tom.

Tuesday night, Tom came out of the garage wearing a rubber Viking mask, with full beard and horned hat. He’d been dying to try it, despite my protests that it was TOO MUCH, too soon. Surprisingly, Lilly didn’t seem to notice or care. I thought for sure it would freak her out, but she went through the exercises without concern and even tried to kiss the heck out of Tom at the end.

I thought you might enjoy seeing just how creepy the mask is:

Darn! The photos for this post got lost in the great photo glitch. We’re sorry they are missing. 

Yep. She looks a bit tense (closed mouth, etc), but then we got this one, where she clearly thinks it’s funny to have the mask nearby.

Due to fatigue and stress, we took Wednesday off because it’s never a good idea to train a dog when you’re crabby.

So, Thursday, we tried something new. ME as the stranger. I put on a big winter coat, a brimmed hiking/gardening hat and carried a purse that I swung around wildly during the 13 various tasks.

I knew I was probably wasting a training session when I could see her tail wagging out of the corner of my eye, when I approached but did not make eye contact. It seems Lilly saw the coat (it’s been c-o-l-d and windy), and thought we were going out to play.

Despite her deep-seated fears, Lilly is a VERY optimistic little soul who lives in a world where COAT = FUN and where Mommy is NEVER the stranger.

FYI — We’ve run out of free support from our behavior consult from July, so until I can afford a follow-up consultation, we’re on our own … still working on Part 3 of our behavior mod plan.


Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.