Week 1: Andi’s Extreme Makeover Takes Shape

Andi’s first week of behavioral training proved to be a success. Her canine makeover is beginning to take shape, showing that a vast transformation happens one step at a time.

With Andi’s high energy and anxiety issues, the trainers at Urban Tails wanted to boost her confidence. They did this with fun lessons as well as exercises for both her body and brain.

Andi quickly picked up on agility lessons, going over a ramp and through a tunnel in under 2 minutes. Just as fast, she started learning “place” behavior (going to a dog bed, sitting and staying until released). In the video clip, you can see she performed “place” behavior perfectly on the first try-what a smarty! The trainers have attempted swim lessons; however Andi seems to be more of a land-lover.  But isn’t she cute in her yellow life vest?

With the right use of the Gentle Leader head halter, she’s doing well walking on a loose leash, a major issue upon her admittance into the Second PAWportunity Program. She’s still nervous walking in new areas so to help her confidence, the trainers have been taking small detours from her normal walk route and adding positive reinforcement (treats, running, play) to teach her new things are not bad.

Andi has been less reactive toward strangers on walks. Through staged counter-conditioning lessons, she will now allow most strangers to walk by with a high rate of reinforcement (i.e. rapid fire treat delivery, 1 treat a second). The idea is that she starts to associate a stranger approaching with the “cookie jar opening,” when the stranger passes and is out of her reactive threshold, the “cookie jar closes.”

People holding or wearing things (canes, backpacks, pushing shopping carts) and large/tall men still irritate her. If someone suddenly appears from around a corner, she barks, lunges and growls. However, compared to her behavior the first few days in the program, she has improved quite a bit.

“I’m really happy with Andi’s progress so far. Based on what we’ve seen at this point, she will definitely keep getting better as the program goes on,” said Monica Body, Senior Trainer at Urban Tails.

Follow Andi as she enters her second week of the Second PAWportunity program through updates on the Friends For Life and Urban Tails Facebook pages and blog.

 Stay tuned and keep your paws crossed for Andi