I suppose owning a reactive dog involves a series of starting over. I haven't posted for awhile, partially because there is nothing new to say. While that may seem like a great thing, I think it is more about a lack of any change. I can count on Sagan to be over the edge reliably every few weeks. The last 2 episodes involve class-based things. In Control Unleashed, a Bernese cross came up within about 5 feet of Sagan's kennel while the Bernese was doing off leash work and distracted. Sagan has wanted to eat him the last three classes, to the point that both of our dogs have to have their kennels covered while the other is working.
In rally yesterday, a dog was there for make-up, and in 50 minutes, I went through 3 cups of treats, and experienced about 5 growling lunges for the other dog. Sagan practically chewed my thumb off taking treats. I finally decided just to leave 40 minutes early because it was clear he was not going to calm down. Oh, don't get me wrong, he was "obedient" and doing his exercises, but was not in a good frame of mind.
I'm part of a FB group called "Canine Behavior Training," and I've been chatting with the owner privately the past couple of days. I have a few suggestions from her that I plan to try. I'm planning to spend a few weeks working focus and pattern games (Leslie McDevitt). She suggests observational skill training for me. I'm going to put my all into this, but the cynical part of me that has tried all of this stuff with three different dogs is prepared to be back at square one in a few weeks.
My friends try to remind me "how far I've come," and "how lucky Sagan is," and to "hang in there," and that "he will mature." I feel a lot like I'm stuck in a failing marriage that I keep thinking I should get out of before I invest more of my emotion, time, or money. I hate to think of Sagan that way, but I do. I can't help but think someone else would have had more luck with him than me. I don't need or want anyone to blow sunshine up my ass, but I have lots of regrets about decisions I made early on with him. I love him to pieces, but I really don't feel like 70% of the time, I enjoy our partnership very much.
I have never felt like more of a failure in any aspect of my life than in owning a dog. And that's the honest truth.
With how smart I am, and how committed I am, and how many things I have going in my favor with this dog, it just hasn't worked out the way I planned.
I'm dumping my socialization log off of this website, because it is honestly too depressing for me to keep up. I will replace it with a log of our training sessions, because at least that will make me feel like I'm doing something positive.
I'm writing all of this down, because, again, I think it is beneficial for folks with reactive dogs to have a true picture of what it is like. At 2 years, I still seriously consider throwing in the towel.