Close encounters of the trainer kind

Spencer is sleeping this afternoon. He had a big morning: we met his new trainer for the first time.First, there was the stress of the car ride. The park (woods, really) where we met Irène is 20-30 minutes away by car. Spencer does a lot better in the car then when we first got him, but this is still a big trip.

Then I didn’t unhook his seatbelt harness before opening the car door, so when he tumbled out and got tangled in it, he panicked. He actually managed to more or less do a somersault and roll out of the harness and then was so panicked that when I grabbed his collar, he almost managed to pull out of that. Luckily I managed to calm him down, attach a leash and tighten his collar until we could get a walking harness on him.

The next bit of excitement was the horses. Spencer loves horses. We think maybe he lived in the country before and had horses nearby. But he was frustrated not to be able to follow them.

And then there were all the news sights, sounds and smells! So much to absorb that he went into sensory overload.

He was also wearing his muzzle. He does OK in his muzzle, but it still distracts him. We also have trouble feeding him treats through the muzzle (and constant feeding of treats in the presence of “scary things”is a key element in helping him overcome his fears), so whenever we give him treats, he lies down!

He was wearing a walking harness for the first time too.

And then there were all those new dogs to say hello to! It was Heaven, except he wasn’t allowed to actually go play.

We saw lots of people all around us. Spencer paid no attention to any of them, except Irène, who he did lunge at a couple of times. He didn’t like the way she was lurking near us and kept looking at him. Lurking is one of his triggers as is that kind of looking. The good news is that she was able to observe the problem behaviour firsthand and she’s not intimidated by it! But she did say that it’s an odd case. 

Hopefully with time, Spencer will become accustomed to all of these new stimuli and gradually understand that Irène means him no harm. If he’d just let her near, she’d give him goodies! Anyway, she thinks it’s doable, so we’ll see how it goes over time.

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