Luna is making some great progress and continues getting better every day! Her dog aggression is very manageable, we can even pass by other dogs very close with no issue. Even with cats and squirrels, she stays largely composed and I am SO proud of how good she is doing!
We’ve been doing a lot of basic obedience training to help her focus on working with me rather than constantly searching for something to chase.
The best way I have been able to get her engaged on me is by making her focus on the heel, and one of the ways I am able to keep her focused, even in fairly high distraction environments, is with direction changes.
She has a tendency to ‘creep’ forward in her position and she slowly gets farther and farther out of position over the span of about 2 minutes, even with prong and ecollar pressure. I’ve found that when she starts to creep forward, I just do a bunch of directions changes. Not just outside turns, but inside turns, right/left turns, speed changes, walking in circles (about 8 ft in diameter), stop/sits…just basically keep her guessing on what direction we are going, and she always has to pay attention.
The main challenge while doing this with a highly excitable dog is, I have to be careful to be calm and cool and not change directions too quickly or energetically or else she feeds off of that, the whole heel is lost, and we have to reset and start again. This is actually general dog obedience challenge for hyper dogs or dogs that get excitable easily. Any praise or positive reinforcement has to be delivered calmly or you’ll end up with an even more hyper dog.
In addition to using direction changes to curtail the ‘creeping’, I also will throw some in randomly throughout the walk – especially speed changes. Speed changes are the easiest dynamic to frequently incorporate throughout the walk without interrupting the rhythm too much. I like to change speeds every 2-3 minutes, including a real snail’s pace on occasion. The other thing I use fairly frequently are stop/sits; just stop and sit for a few seconds, up to 30 seconds then, keep going.
All this variation really helps her stay tuned in to what we are doing and not on everything else going on around us.