This morning I took Chimera to a popular trailhead, and we positioned ourselves on the side that is less used. We were in luck -- there were a few owners and big dogs milling about, waiting for another person to arrive with her dogs. Cai was AWESOME. I cued him to look, and he would look, gather some information, and then look back at me, and we'd jog away, and I'd reward him with dehydrated duck liver, another super duper favorite treat. This lasted about ten minutes. Then we were ambushed by a lady coming right toward us with two big, excited dogs pulling on their leashes. With a bit of a leash tug, I managed to get Cai turned around with just one bark in protest. I think it was solely because of our head-on work with Iroc yesterday morning that he was able to do that. However it still rattled him, and he went over threshold and barked mindlessly at the next two dogs he saw, even though they were farther away. We left after that. Despite the poor ending, I'm happy the session, and I think he'll do even better next time. I just need to keep sessions super short if we're working on sudden appearances.
In the afternoon, I did a BAT session with a client, during which I was holding the decoy dog. The client's dog is, overall, more reactive, but he too has learned to recognize the setup (and me) and quickly habituated to our decoy. So I put the decoy back into the car and got Cai out, and we did a mutual BAT session -- like an improvised dance, constantly moving towards and away from each other, at different angles. Cai did amazingly well at first. Again, I cued him to look at the dog, and he was able to look at him and then back at me, amazingly calmly. After a handful of reps, the client accidentally got way too close, both the dogs started barking, and then Cai was on edge for a few minutes. After four or five successful reps from much farther away, he settled back into the rhythm, and was again doing very well. We ended on opposite sides of the street, passing each other, which was difficult for Cai but he held it together. The duck liver really helped.
This time he did not seem to recognize that it was a BAT setup, as he did yesterday. I think this was because it was less controlled, and the client and I didn't talk to each other. I will keep that in mind for our next session.