I'm not a certified dog trainer or anything, so fortunately I don't have to remember all the latest jargon and its specific meanings...operant conditioning anyone? Something about Sherlock's wormy behavior when he arrived, hugging the earth while wriggling like a dachshund, tail frantically appealing submission, his complete stillness at the vet, his perfect heeling on leash all spoke to me of fallout from the use of aversives in punishment, a generalized apathy and conditioned suppression from negative reinforcement...in other words, it seemed to me he'd been walloped into unthinking, fearful submission by an abusive handler which was really sad to watch. I decided to let him have some freedom, to explore the world and begin to make his own decisions, gain some confidence.
Not that I knew the words two months ago, since then I've been reading all I can to try and find out how to heal his heart and get him to the point where he can control his own over-arousal and use his highly intelligent mind to channel his overabundant vociferous energy more peacefully ... I've ordered a new book, Fired Up, frantic and freaked out, by Laura Van Arendonk Baugh, because the title totally sounds like Sherlock, particularly the fired up and frantic bit. More on that when it arrives in a couple of weeks...I've also just discovered a new Eileen and dogblog by a US writer, Eileen Anderson ,which gave me the terminology to describe Sherlock (see link above) and which I'm going to enjoy exploring in the next few days. She labels the nasty training I experienced in the Honmoku dog run and the kind of abuse Sherlock has been used to in her post "Shut down dogs".
The good news is he's working really hard himself: now that he has some freedom during walkies (albeit within the radius of the 1.8m Ruffwear Flat Out leash which you can buy in Japan from Montbell) he's such a wee rabbit, jumping over the leash to untangle it himself when it winds round his legs, darting forward as far as the longer leash permits but rarely actually pulling on it, dancing back behind me to dart forward on the other side in a dervish twirl so that he gets more exercise and takes in the scents on both sides, fast fast fast, and then on again! It's a wonder he doesn't bang into things or trip up more, whirlwind speed and agility. He's using up so much energy, physically and mentally, no wonder he's not putting on weight even though he's been neutered and eats the same amounts as Nobunaga who has ten kilos more weight!
The peewees and poopies in the garden is coming along well, I have a constant stock of treats to lure him out every so often, although he hates the rain and getting his feet wet, it seems. I always get wet, but thank God for being British, a damp miserable childhood has toughened me up just for this. Thankfully the past few days things have been looking up, although I still don't feel confident enough to dismantle all the pet sheets posted up around the house just yet. What I'm doing differently is, he gets the treat before he pees and then goes to pee. I mean, he's not stupid, and I trust him to know what to do. Plus if he doesn't need a peewees, he simply looks at me with a quizzical look and refuses to budge beyond the doorway, treats or no treats. Okay, sweetie, fine, good boy.
And the barking, hypervigilant at night and jubilant during the day....well, more on that as time goes by...