Lady’s training has been moving ahead step by step. She has some sessions when she is distracted, but on those days, we keep it short and simple or try again later. When we have a “do-over” session later that day, she seems to do great.
Training sessions include only medically necessary behaviors. We are primarily focusing on Lady presenting her feet for footwork, as that is the most urgent need. To mix things up, we are also working on lean ins, general touching and her presenting her ears (for blood draws). This way, we aren’t always asking for her feet.
At the beginning of her front foot training, Lady seemed more comfortable presenting her feet when we used the target pole as opposed to our hands. We think this is due to the uncertainty of what will happen if we touch them, so using the pole made her feel safe (the target pole just looks like a giant q-tip and presents a “target” for her to touch.) Now we are in the process of switching to hands, which is a step she seems ready for. During her last session, she allowed us to touch all over her front feet for the first time.
Lady has been presenting all of her feet fairly regularly. She’s recently started allowing us to spray the underside of her feet while she lifts them, which is fantastic. We’ve started using an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory spritz under her front feet when she lifts them, which we hope improves their condition. This behavior also allows us to rinse off her feet using the hose, which we are now introducing as part of her morning treatment.
Presenting her back feet is also going well. When she lifts them in the stall (while leaned in), we can rub the pads of her feet, put our fingers in the grooves and touch her toenails for a few seconds. Those touches are identical to what we will do with tools once we begin trimming. After she is fully accustomed to us doing it with our fingers, we will introduce her foot care tools. Initially, we begin touching the tools to her feet – we won’t use them the first few times we touch them to her feet. We just want her to get used to everything one step at a time, so we don’t step backward. It is a journey, and we are happy to be well on our way.
Pictured: Lady with Kat having a training session (FYI, Karissa returned home to the US last week ? )