Manners Class for Slinky
What to say about our darling barker? There are days when he's pretty good on walks, and I'm silly enough to think, "Oh yay! We're making progress." And then he'll go and bark his head off at some poor innocent soul walking by.
I'm worried that his barking and prey drive are getting worse (darn those rabbits and squirrels!), and I'm sad for him that he's so high-strung and scared that he's lashing out on our walks. He shows signs of anxiety (I think) with excessive licking, which also worries me.
Something we want to work on with him is playing. He currently doesn't fetch and shows very little interest in toys and balls. His lack of physical and intellectual stimulation probably makes his anxiety worse, so we're slowly teaching him to get some energy out in a positive way.
When I think about what might've lead to all of his issues, things seem to point to low quality of life and very little socialization. If he spent the first few years of his life like this, I know it's going to take time to get him comfortable and relaxed. I just have to remind myself to be patient and do things on his timetable, not mine.
We signed up for a basic manners class at Your Dog's Friend, a local doggie support center that was recommended to us by the rescue organization where we got Slinky. I'm hoping that I'll learn some techniques to help him become a more confident and relaxed dog. He's doing fairly well with clicker training and positive reinforcement with food as a reward. But it's easy to see that he can only do so much for so long before he gets worn out, and maybe even stressed.
Not that I didn't know this before we adopted Slinky, but being a good human to a dog is hard work (as it is with having any kind of animal in your home, including the human kind!). I hope we do good by Slinky and help him lead a happy life.