I had to give a quick update on Lara this evening, I am so excited.
I made the decision to let her out into the garden with no leash attached to her collar. I have gradually reduced it down to a three feet length so this was not as drastic as it sounds. I did hear a small voice telling me this may not be a good idea, we have a large yard and it could take hours to catch her if she insisted on staying out. The deck is another favourite spot, am glad we installed it (learn more about Danny Deck).
The decision was calculated and based on the fact that I am now able in most situations to approach her or crouch down and have her approach me so I can gently take her collar. We have been practicing this for several days. A touch of the collar with no restraint or pulling back gets a treat and a "go play" release. So decision made freedom for Lara. I opened the crate door and Lara very slowly stretched and walked out of the room.
Lara ventured slowly into the garden, no more sprinting out through the door towards the nearest bush. Once outside Lara displayed the nicest "puppy dash" behaviors. She was charging everywhere, running at me and bouncing, barking, rolling over, grabbing sticks and even a tennis ball. I was howling with laughter. Then Gizmo my 9 pound Jack Russell Terrier mix joined in, then Bailey my Red Merle Aussie joined in the fun. I sat in the grass and watched wishing Rick was outside to see this.
The play went on for about 15 minutes; one by one they dropped off, meandered over to the water or took up their evening position on the deck to watch the donkeys feed. Lara hung back and settled into her bushes in the middle of the garden. The bushes are a selection of fig trees and blackberries so they don’t hide her presence but appear to give her a level of comfort.
After a few minutes I slowly stood up and wondered how I should approach this. Rick was making dinner and I had promised to be back inside with 30 minutes. I so desperately did not want to reach in and pick her up; I am trying so hard to allow her to make the decisions about her behavior. I want her to understand that she controls her environment and can sway the consequences. I walked toward the class room and stepped inside. I could feel her behind me and as I turned to sit in the chair she walked past, giving me a sideways glance and stepped into her crate.
Not sure what else she can do today to make this the perfect weekend. Wonder what she will throw at me when I take her for her evening walk. Right now she is in her crate and for the first time appears to be completely relaxed and actually lying on her side fully stretched out. Hoping her days of cowering at the back of the crate is over. There is still a long way to go but the progress this weekend has been so encouraging.