Mickey is doing very well and is progressing in his conditioning of positive emotional responses...it is important to understand why he is doing well though, because to many he might seem quiet, fine, just a little shy, but we want to make sure that he feels emotionally okay about the world and new situations.
Mickey came to GRRoW from a puppy mill so just based on that we have to assume that he did not have an appropriate socialization period. This is the period between 4 weeks to 12 to 15 weeks (depending on breed) where dogs form opinions about things they encounter in the world. It is not about the amount but the quality. He had none. What is tricky about a dog like Mickey behavior wise, is he does absorb a lot about the human world and does not get reactive, but based on his body language he was often not comfortable in situations, especially outside of the home. His body would become stiff, tail tucked, ears back, some tongue flicks, and if anything surprised him he would have a startle response.
Mickey came to me for training at my home. I use positive reinforcement to help make him more relaxed in new situations and I also have installed behaviors that he knows well and so can go back to those in different contexts so he stays confident. I also take things slow and make sure his interactions are well managed and as predictable as possible so he starts to believe that things in the world are safe. Things in the world predict high value food reinforcement. Feeling supported by me goes a long way to make him feel emotionally positive and I reinforce him well for checking in with me.
I take Mickey new places regularly and when he sees new things reinforce him. He has met new human and canine friends, he has gone to new locations, and he is now able to come to classes with me. Last night he was my training assistant and was able to work on a chew (relaxation), he was able to choose to go greet, and he was able to work on behaviors he has a large reinforcement history for. A success! Why? Because it was well managed and predictable :) More and more consistently I am seeing a loose body, tail loose and wagging, a soft relaxed mouth, and ears forward. All body language that says he is emotionally feeling okay about the situation.
I have chosen to donate more time with Mr. Mickey and am looking forward to continuing his training and behavior modification until he finds the perfect forever home.