Ray is fascinating! One aspect that I find admirable, and so many of us could learn from it, is the ability to see a positive in pretty much anything. Ray responded really well to “clicker” training using treats as the motivator but my concern was how would he react when the treats were reduced?
His reaction was no surprise to the Oakville & Milton Humane Society trainers who we were in regular contact with, but did surprise me. His level of cooperation did not change at all. Apparently his perspective was simply “I didn’t get a treat this time. Oh well …. I’ll probably get one next time.”
While we cannot know what happened in Ray’s past life, we do know that he either wandered away from home and got lost; escaped from an unhappy situation, or was taken somewhere and abandoned. From what we do know about him, I think it reasonable to conclude that he was not taken care of by his previous owners. The initial OHMS assessment of him presented a picture of a dog with many issues, particularly with people.
Given that picture, I am still in awe that he was so trusting and affectionate with us. Even at our initial meetings when Ray and I were basically assessing each other, he was certainly giving me the benefit of the doubt in that while he was quite distant, he was not anti-social. Again it would appear that his thought process was based heavily on a positive attitude.
Then there are treats! Not unlike us, he really appreciates treats however, unlike many of us, he doesn’t necessarily want the biggest. Give him a large biscuit and he will enjoy it, but he will just as happily have a piece off that same biscuit or a smaller treat entirely. Getting his treats is certainly important to him, but the size of the treat is quite irrelevant.
His attitude towards doors is fascinating in that he does not seem able to rationalize that both the front and back doors of our home can lead to the same place outside! He is relatively comfortable if I leave the house for a short time without him as long as I go through the back door. If I go through the front door, then his stress level rises.
A similar reaction occurs when one of us goes into an unfamiliar store. He is most certainly a “creature of habit” and can slowly accept that one of us has to go into Store A. The acceptance ends however when Store B comes into the picture!
Leaving him in the car while I fill the gas tank is really interesting because, even though he can see me, he is very vocal and clearly not happy!
I would expect that over time, he will become more comfortable with these situations by simply accepting the repetition however ……………. when I do something different? When I have to go into Store C? Living with a very insecure dog makes you ….. well ……….. think!