So, I took Sagan up today to meet Christine at Companion Animal Solutions. It was nice meeting her and she had lots of nice suggestions about how to deal with Sagan's fear. Her diagnosis is that he is "conflicted"....curious, but fearful, and that we have been pushing him too far, too fast. That basically, Sagan has lost faith in us as handlers because we keep putting him in fearful situations.
I appreciated the honest assessment, but I can't help but be struck by the fact that if what we've been doing is wrong, there are going to be a lot of EFFed up dogs in the world. And here we are, with another project dog, which is *exactly* what we thought we wouldn't be getting, since we know he was socialized well as a pup. Blah. I also felt about this appointment the way I felt about Winnie's fear aggression appts. I felt great while there, and then the enormity of orchestrating all of these situations, and controlling all of the variables REALLY overwhelmed me once I was home. Where I am going to find strangers (not people he has met) to help me for long enough to do counterconditioning exercises? I know what I need to do, I'm just not sure how well I'm going to be able to do it.
So, he is on the shy end of the shy/bold spectrum, and is showing fear toward lots of things. This fear needs to be addressed. Repeatedly, constantly with treats and clicker. Wrapping my head around this project.
On a lighter/more fun note, Sagan is totally playing fetch now, and will blow bubbles in the water dish if we stick a piece of cardboard in the water. Is this considered waterboarding a dog? :-)