Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Adopting Ricochet

Adopting Ricochet

Ricochet is my 11 year old Jack Russell I adopted when he was about 9 months old. I knew he was reactive as soon as I got him out of the kennel to get to know him a little better. He turned into the Tasmanian Devil as soon as he saw the dog across the way.  I lived with reactive dogs before, had learned a lot since then and was up for the challenge. I filled out the adoption forms and our adventure began when Ricochet came home 2 days later.

"Ric Recharging"
Fortunately, Ricochet had no problems with my other 2 dogs( they on the other hand thought I had totally lost my mind bringing home him into their house). He settled in fine while I began planning how we were going to work on his reactivity. It involved a lot of treats, keeping him at a comfortable distance from other dogs and teaching him to have real good attention to me.

Lucky for me I was active in a dog training club so we were able to be around great dogs with owners who understood and worked with us. We also would travel to PetSmart to so we could work in a more public place.

We mostly spent the first year working on his reactivity. Once I felt more comfortable having him around other dogs, I began taking him to different dog training workshops and seminars  where it seemed like something would happen to test our reactivity training. The biggest test was at one seminar where the speaker had us set up in relay teams. As we walked across the room, Ricochet noticed the dog next to us and gave a little growl. He had never seen a Shar Pei before. I quickly got his attention and we got to the end of the room and waited for our team mates to arrive and line up behind us. As the last members arrived and we were standing in the front of the line all kind of packed together, a toy flew through the air and landed right next to Ric. Ricochet LOVES toys. He thinks every toy is his. He also had gotten a little worked up seeing the Shar Pei. So when I saw the dog coming to get his toy I began to stress and curse the owner who thought it was a good idea to reward their dog by throwing a dog toy in a crowd.  I knew Ric would react. It was a bad setup and I had no place to go.

The dog approached. And Ricochet didn’t react. He watched the dog come over, pick up his toy and leave. Ricochet just watched. I was ecstatic!

All the time we spent. All the work we did. It was all worth it. Ricochet will never be one of those dogs who can go somewhere and be instant buddies with other dogs. I will always watch for potential problems because I can’t always count on other people to understand, but we are able to have fun doing the things we like to do.

Dawn Miklich shares her home with a variety of furred and feathered friends. She blogs about pets at afFURmation and NEPA Pets.

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