My Velcro Dogs

My Velcro Dogs
Louie, Bradley and Echo

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bradley's first fearful experience

Bradley is, for the most part, your typical Golden Retriever puppy; happy, confident and friendly. There have been times when he's been unsure of something but once he's figured out that the new experience isn't dangerous, he accepts it. However, a few days ago, it was another story.

We took him to the mall for some practice and unfortunately, it was much busier than I anticipated. It's back to school shopping time and in CT, it also happened to be tax free week (for the back to schoolers). The mall was packed. He actually did very well considering how much chaos their was. Once we attempted to go into Victoria's Secret PINK store, things went downhill.

The logo/mascot for the PINK line is a dog and they have an abstract dog mannequin at the entrance. It was almost the size of Bradley. Two things I've learned about dogs are:

1. Sometimes they don't understand that when something changes shape or form, it's still the same thing.
2. Sometimes they don't understand when something is in the same shape or form as one thing, it's not the same thing.

Bradley apparently thought the stuffed dog was real. He immediately refused to approach it and wanted nothing to do with that store. Normally, he loves real dogs but I guess the weird appearance of this one was too much for him to handle. Joe turned the dog around, which was an excellent idea. This gave Bradley the confidence to slowly approach it and sniff its butt. He still wasn't sold though so it was hard to get him into the store. We went into the store, browsed for a couple minutes and then left. Bradley was still afraid of the dog when we left. We go to that mall pretty frequently and will have plenty of opportunities to desensitize him gradually.

On a more positive note: His clicker training is going great! He pretty much has hand targeting down to a science. We just started yesterday and he has already started standing up on his hind legs to reach my hand if it's up high. That's a great start! We haven't had any treat refusals in the past few days either. (Thanks for the advice about that, Logan!)

I think I'll video tape his hand targeting and some of the other skills he's practicing so I can share it.

(By the way, we're definitely going to adopt a retired Greyhound! I'm so excited about that!)

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