It has been a few weeks since I posted an update and it was mostly because training Zach to not react to certain things takes time to show improvement. For the last couple of weeks we have managed to train him to sleep by himself, to react less to doorbells (does not react to doorbells on TV), to not react to opening the front door and to people knocking. When he gets worked up he still does not fully obey commands when off leash but he does react well to redirection. On several occasions his demanding demeanor and barking has exacerbated us but we manage to keep our cool and figure out how to proceed. Hard work indeed!
To desensitize Z to react less, if at all, to people, we not only need willing subjects but we also need a safe space. That’s why we are moving to a house with a bigger yard where he can have training grounds that belong to him and help him keep his cool and confidence. The plan is to evaluate how reactive he gets when presented with a non reactive dog and eventually we will introduce him to my furnephews Dasher and Dexter. If all goes well they could all play together in the yard at some point in the future. That would be awesome!
Zach’s walks are going well. He has been able to enjoy them more and react less to last minute close encounters. This is good because it shows progress. Desensitizing him to dogs will be another step in his development, one that can get him closer to needing less medication, if any. He may need the Prozac though for the rest of his life which I don’t mind as long as there is benefit. He seems to get along with his surroundings quite well with the 40 mg dose but we feel he might manage with less medicine and better training. Hopefully the move will not undo the progress since he will be moving with his people, toys and belongings. It will look similar in layout, and we are expecting that the large backyard will convince him to open up to the possibilities of a life with us.
For example, on the day I wrote this he let us cut his nails. XD We did use his muzzle soaked in Adaptil for safety reasons, a recommendation from both his trainer Jennifer and Dr Sung, the behaviorist. To our delight, he didn’t react at all to the clipers and let us handle his paws. Granted with the muzzle on, and with lots of treats, but still a victory. Not a bad practice run either and good protocol for when we finally take him to the vet. Better safe than sorry for his own sake. – We may try it in the future, once we have a better handle on the little guy. As first timers we are still learning to trust ourselves and him.
If all goes well Z should be adopted into our family soon. The paperwork is being generated as we speak. Wish us luck and much success!! Paws crossed! 🙂