WOW! What else can I say. Something has shifted significantly whether it’s with me or with Willa. But it’s a big change.
I have been working with Willa - command, pause, release, reward. Rewarding too for successive approximations when her behavior approaches goal behavior (as in coming towards me).
I have been using - very sparingly, the vibration without electronic shock, and she is TOTALLY responding. I don’t know if it's the fear of the vibration that gets her running/walking towards me for comfort, but whatever it is, it’s working. I am finding myself now able to walk her totally off leash to the park, and not only is she more responsive to my call, but she seems less interested in drifting away and more interested in being close. It doesn’t look like fear. In fact, she is more interested in my approval, love, praise.
My guess is, and I think this is absolutely so, I am so much more relaxed, she’s picking up on it, and consequently she is so much more relaxed and less weary.. I’m not walking with her and thinking - will I be able to get her back? Is she going to make this difficult? In whatever subtle ways I felt a tension within myself about her responsiveness, that’s so much less there. I don’t even think I was fully aware of the extent of that tension.
So, we’re now walking to and from the park off leash. Thee’s a wooded path by my house to the park, not close to the road. And it’s all good. Even at the end of the walk, as we’re approaching the house, still off leash, rather than dashing away at the idea of having to go inside, she seemed more than pleased to come inside.
I am frankly very surprised. I didn’t expect to get such immediate results.
River does not possess the same wanderlust or fearfulness as Willa. If anything she is so quick to approach me or anybody. I did use the vibration with him around his jumping up on new acquaintances as he is apt to do, and amazingly, he was immediately responsive.
So this note is a little rambling, but it is meant as an expression of appreciation and deep gratitude. Such a little thing in some ways, yet so radically transformative in my own feelings and relationship with both pups.
I will look forward to continued explorations with you. Not sure exactly where I want to go, but I think there is some deepening of my relationship with both dogs that I am interested in pursuing.