I was responding to a Comment about Ray the other day, and I realized that throughout all my recent Ray Posts, I have never touched on a very recent habit of his!
As many of you will know, Ray was very nervous about people and dogs when we adopted him from our local shelter. His solution to such meetings was to bark and lunge in order to make “the problem” go away. It was quite effective!
Clearly he saw such meetings as a threat so, over the course of a few months, we managed to get him to understand that people and dogs mean treats. He still occasionally showed us his lunge and bark routine, but the circumstances were slightly different and, overall, he seemed to adjust very well and generally accepted strangers and other dogs passing close by.
We then progressed to prompting Ray to say “Hello” (initiate a touch) to people and dogs, and this too was accepted relatively easily (with treats).
From our perspective, we had taken this aspect of training as far as it needed to go, but Ray decided otherwise. Once he had said “Hello”, and invariably got his treat, he would check the people out with his nose… clearly looking for treats! The looking part was not an issue as it was just seen as being friendly by the people involved, but he has now gone even further!
We were out the other evening with Ray, and met up with a woman taking her dog for a walk. We had met them before so we stopped and chatted while the dogs did their greeting routine, and then Ray started to checkout the woman’s pockets. This, in itself, was not particularly unusual now, but then he stuffed his mouth right into her pocket. He knew something good was in there and was trying to help himself. Extracting him was not that easy!
I can remember sometime ago now, a lady walked passed us holding a shopping bag. Just as she passed us, Ray almost dived into her bag, but he responded to his name very well and allowed the lady to continue. We are now really going to have to watch him because not only have we cured his fear of people, but we have also given him such a comfort level that he is likely to do anything if food is involved…. and regardless of whose food it is!