Visualizing success

Isis has progressed in her training to the point that she can be in a class with other dogs. I’m so proud of her and she’s doing really well. She hasn’t been around other dogs in about a year. Especially other reactive dogs and while on leash. Other dogs are working at a more “advanced” level, but Isis doesn’t seem to be too far behind.

We’re having people over tonight and for the first time since, oh, Dec. 2006, I’m not worried about how she’s going to act when they walk through the front door. We’ve got a pretty good routine where she barks like crazy at the knock on the door (we’ve taped over the doorbell so we don’t use that). I tell her to go to her bed, she lies on it, sometimes lets out a few extra barks, but mostly sits eagerly while the guest enters until I tell her to go say hi.

We first started practicing this with Rob’s parents, but then I started to worry that she thought going to her bed meant Grandma and Grandpa were coming, and what was she going to do when a total stranger turned up.

The first time that happened, she started to bark and get up, I panicked, shoved our friend out the door and put Isis in the backyard. But since then, if she barks, I get in between her and the guest and she usually backs down. She’s not perfect, she still gets up several times, and has to be told to lie down again. But she doesn’t act aggressively toward the visitor, and that is the key ingredient.

Each of the people coming tonight has been in the house before, so I’m confident.

Last night I had a dream that we had Isis off lead at a park and a bunch of off-lead dogs ran up to her. A couple of the dogs actually had leashes on, but no owner on the other side of them. I called for Rob to get between Isis and the other dogs and I guided her by her collar back to the car, treating her all the way. In the dream, she did not bark at the other dogs.

It’s like my “Next year in Jerusalem.”