Today we worked hard on Rihm's off-leash obedience. In mild to moderate distraction areas he does well on his electronic collar. His Come command has improved tenfold though he still has "bad breaks" and tends to run past me but is able to stop just past my legs. We will work on cleaning this up. He Autosits nicely once he is able to come to a stop. His other commands are going very well. He still tries to kill his bed and so we are going to try a different bed made out of a different material to see if that changes anything. His current bed feels like a stuffed animal and so I wonder if that isn't making him want to shake it.
Rihm had his first field trip today to South Park. He did okay. He was far from perfect. Whenever he saw a squirrel he would lose it a little and so it quickly became the rule that if he got too excited about something, he needed to lay down and control himself before we moved on. This worked for squirrels and strangers but his reaction to strange dogs is still so extreme that I would not recommend letting him off a leash where he is likely to meet other dogs. He is -not- aggressive. He just gets so overly aroused and excited that he starts screaming and lunging to try to get closer. However, after the initial sniff he does just fine with other dogs. It is that not knowing them that gets him excited. So for the next few days I have arranged for trained dogs to come out to help him with this. He will not be allowed to sniff, play with, or run around with these strange dogs. Any screaming or lunging will be corrected. Any calm behavior will be rewarded. I may put him in a Thundershirt if it is not too hot out. I am also taking a step back and putting him on a good old fashioned pinch collar and leash for these exercises. The reason being that, in rare cases, a dog might attribute an electric correction with the dog they are hyper-focusing on and the problem might be made worse.
This is not a problem that will be 100% fixed during a 10 day board and train, however, I am going to send Rihm home with everything his owners need and the know how to continue working with him on this and will provide strange dogs, and a safe place to practice should they need it. This is absolutely a problem that can be fixed if his owners have high expectations for him. As I said before, this is -not- an aggression issue. It is energy that has been poorly syphoned. Today when we worked around a Toy Poodle Rihm started screaming again but after a few good corrections he was willing to do all of his work around the little dog even though he was not allowed to sniff it. Very promising indeed.
Tomorrow we are goin to reintroduce Place and continue his off leash obedience practice. In the afternoon we are going to have a visit from a femal Husky and he will not be allowed to scream or lunge at her. I am excited to start really turning this around.