Ever since our agility class I have been working a LOT on being more present with Reyna, the more I watched myself the more situations I found where I would just go cold in the face of Reyna's triggers, quietly marking and feeding her treats, but not actually truly interacting with her, touching her, talking to her. I have started responding to things like "reorienting away from a dog" the same way I would if she had just successfully hit all four weave poles and WOW amazing!
Just in the few weeks that I have worked on changing my behavior I have noticed a HUGE shift in Reyna's. Her thresholds are higher, she is more more confident, resilient, focused. It wasn't just over night but I think this is how somebody with a GAD dog must feel when you get all the meds correct and things start clicking.
We went back to the dog park last weekend and played "watch those dogs wrestle"....no issues. When one of the dogs left there was a 6 month old GSD still in the dog park. We walked up to the fence and away from the fence and up to the fence and away from the fence. The puppy didn't pay any attention to us and Reyna watched him, but wasn't concerned, aroused or anything.
So then we went into the adjoining section of the dog park and I let Reyna off leash. Neither dog really paid attention to the other. So then....in a massively risky endeavor I took her into the side with the other dog (with the owner's permission of course). I played the 1,2,3 Treat, and 2 Step games from Leslie's Pattern Games DVD. When I was comfortable that Reyna was focused I held back and let her wander on her own, the puppy wandered in the same general space until they happened to meander into mutual space and greet briefly but going off in separate directions. They did this a couple more times and then initiated play and romped around. They played for a little while without incident and then we left. She didn't bark or whine and enthusiastically tugged with me all the way to the car!
Then yesterday we met up with a neighbor and her 8 month old puppy who is one of Reyna's good friends. We took them both to a large field to play, they walked nicely next to each other neither dog harassing the other. While we were out at the field another family showed up with a little maltese cross. Reyna noticed it, her friend took off to say hi, but Reyna stayed engaged with me until I released her to go play, which she did without charging, barking, growling or anything. She actually barely paid much attention to the little dog and just romped around happily with her buddy.
I am so proud of how far she has come. I know we are not done yet, but I feel like we have crested the mountain!!!