Just wanted to add: Dogs can go through a 'fear' period between 8 -14 months. Do your best to make 'scarey' stuff less scarey.
Remember to reward that 'offered attention; (when Walnut looks to you/makes eye contact, without you asking) with praise, always, and a treat occassionally. It is a valuable skill for your dog to have and you wouldn't want it to fade away.
Sounds like you are doing a fantastic job with Walnut but be careful not to 'over do' it - when training/practicing a skill, always try to end the session on a high note,(success) - quit before he quits. You mentioned he was doing so well on recall, but failed at the 13th attempt, not his fault, he had had enough. Sniffing is a calming signal, it is a dog's way of saying he is stressed, and needs to take a break, or do something else. You have a young dog, 'push' a little, but keep it fun and rewarding for you both.
You sound very dedicated to Walnut, keep it up! Every dog should be so lucky!
I did read about the fear period, but I thought it was between 8-10 months. I just did a quick search on the GRF and yes, you're right, it's actually 8-14mths. That could be a possibility too.
We're really dedicated to helping Walnut. He's honestly the funniest, smartest, most emotional dog we've ever met. This is also our first pet ever, and we appreciate how easy he's made it for us. Here is an update, and a question:
- The biggest problem was that we were getting him overly excited. We would get home, and play right away, pet, etc. He'd get crazy excited and would remain excited for a good 30 minutes before calming down.
- People in our condo, friends, and family love him. And he loves them. We always allowed people to pet him freely, and again, he would get SOOO excited he won't know what to do. He usually ends up biting his leash from excitement (if no toys are around). So...
- Starting 2 days ago, we completely ignore him when we get home. The first day we tried this, he was REALLY confused. He was going crazy, and would try to go between our legs and whatnot to play. The second day was better. We go home, ignored him, he went nuts for about 2 minutes and immediately calmed down. Once calm, we slowly approached him, and just said hi (no touch).
- We had a family event last night, with a bunch of people he loves and people who love him, and always play with him. My parents LOVE getting him excited and playing. Anyway. we gave everyone a heads up noticed to ignore him completely. Not even eye contacts. JACKPOT! What a difference. He was excited at first, but calmed down VERY quickly. He just laid down 80% of the time and looked (and still looks) pretty upset.
- Took him for a walk before work, and thought I was going to have to deal with a super hyper dog. Surprisingly, he was extremely calm the entire time. Question
I am still having trouble with getting his attention. This morning was super foggy, and you could only make out silhouettes of people. He walked very nicely, and would look up at me occasionally, but anytime there was a silhouette of someone walking, I couldn't regain his focus. I asked him to sit (he did, very calmly, to my right), and stayed in sit position the entire time the person walked by.
I clicked and tried to treat (he didn't accept, so I pet and said good boy), and continued walking. Every time someone walked by or even across the street though, we had to stop. If we didn't stop, he would still walke calmly beside me, but his full focus on the person walking.
He accepted treats once his mind "Reset" and person disappeared.
So my question is, do this go back to the whole fear thing? Or is he waiting for an opportunity for me to say "Hello" the stranger so he can get a bunch of attention? We normally cannot have him sit nicely while we talk to a stranger.
Finally, what would be my best approach to this? Do I:
- ignore it and keep walking until distraction goes away?
- give him a soft tug to remind him to look straight?
- stop, let him observe, and say "good boy"?
- other ideas?
We also decided to come up with a brand new work for "come". In our trainers guides, it said that if he doesn't come when called, then he knows that he has a choice with that command. When that happens, it's time for a new word.
I also successfully for 12 seconds of eye contact last night, outdoors, with leaves blowing, fog, and cars.
We're making progress! I think the biggest thing is to refrain ourselves from letting him get too excited. I'm also going to ask everyone in our condo (nicely) not to pet him if he gets too excited. This will be hard to do, as some rude people think it's okay to just approach and touch.