Tuesday March 2nd 8-10pm

Yesterday evening Bethany (The DogSmith Panhandle and Southern Alabama) came over and we gave LRA a thorough health check. Beth is also a certified vet tech so LRA was in good hands. Her ear canals are clean, eyes are good, lungs are clear and her heart rate is good given that it pounds with fear when you handle her. We administered her Heart Worm preventative and set about introducing her to a collar. She also weighed in at around 28 pounds and we are fairly sure, judging by her teeth she is around 12 months old.

She was really good, a little scared. Bethany is so gentle with the animals I am sure they can read her good intentions. Within a few minutes Bethany had her chewing on her Heart Guard and taking slithers of “cheesy hot dogs” from her fingers.

After only a few minutes of laying the collar over her back and slowly moving it up to her neck while giving her treats for staying calm we were able to fasten the collar loosely around her neck. I will gradually over the next few days tighten it to an appropriate fit. In the meantime we will have to remove it when she goes into her kennel as she could “hang up” on it.

LRA was put to bed at 10.30pm. I fastened her kennel which is a 6 x3 professional grade indoor kennel, gave her some water, turned on the radio and turned off the light. As we left the room I explained to Bethany that I would close the internal door. Our policy here at The DogSmith Training Center is to have two closed doors between any dog and the outdoor environment for safety.

March 3rd 6am

As a birthday gift to me this morning Rick slipped quietly from the house to feed all the critters and walk the dogs. He popped in to see LRA and was surprised to find her playing in the feed area. There was an array of chewed up plants, door mats and paper. Rick called on me and asked “why I had left LRA out loose last night”. Of course I had not. When I arrived on the scene I could not believe how she had removed herself from her kennel and opened the door and then had her fun escapades in the feed room area.  I was delighted, for the first time she greeted me from a distance with a tail wag, the famous Aussie smile and a play bounce but shame on me for not being smarter than a little red aussie!

Some of you may at this point be thinking “oh no, she may have hurt herself”. Well, having boarded dogs here for many years I can categorically say that all our dog areas are “doggie proofed”. All chemicals, food and digestible objects are carefully stored away. With that said it would not have surprised me if LRA had not prepared and served herself breakfast. This is one smart Aussie Shepherd.

LRA was taken outside into the large Doggie Day Care area where she played happily while I cleaned up the debris from her antics and rearranged the area for safe keeping. I have never, in ten years of dog training, seen anything quite as smart as this. I even called Bethany when it was a respectable time to brief her and in my own mind confirm that, yes, we had safely secured her the night before.

We are also pleased to announce the official new name for LRA.

A big thank you to my sister in-law, Lea, who appropriately noted on The DogSmith Franchise Facebook page that her name should be LARA - Little Adorable Red Aussie. So Lara it is.

Training Goals for Today

  1. Charge the clicker – so we can use this as a training tool

Clicker training is the least aversive and intrusive training method you can use. It’s very empowering for the animal. Using a clicker the dog learns that their behavior can control their environment. It’s a great method for scared, frightened or socially unconfident dogs. It can be used to shape behaviors such as calm behaviors, greeting behaviors, and approach behaviors.

  1. Introduce The Leash

Today we are going to start working on familiarizing Lara to her leash. We plan to shape this without using any lures or prompts. The leash attached to her collar at this point is so highly aversive to her (she wants to escape or avoid it) we need to be very careful and progress slowly and surely without setting her back.

Relationship Goals for Today

  1. We will continue to hand feed Lara and continue to build trust with her so we are more able to interact with her which will help so much with our training plan.

Management Goals for Today

If we can have successes with the leash then taking her in and out will be so much easier. This will help us manage her environment. We know that within 14 days we can have her housetrained if we implement The DogSmith Housetraining plan, however to do this we need to have her on a leash so we can take her to her designated bathroom area and then reinforce her for using it. The DogSmith E-Book on Housetraining is available at www.DogSmith.com under our resources tab.