Training with Skye is a bit discouraging at time. Everything has to be decomposed in tiny little steps, and then we go very slowly through each of these steps. We need to push her a little bit out of her comfort zone, but not too much so she stays engaged and doesn't walk away from the training. We've learned to accept the slow pace of the training and celebrate every little milestone. But I must admit that setback, even little ones, are difficult. So when Skye got hesitant to put her head through the big collar and showed some concerns about us taking out her highest value treats that she came to associate with the collar, we got a bit disheartened.
Also the unsolicited advice of well-meaning friends and strangers is unhelpful at best. It's really hard to hear people telling you what you should or shouldn't do when they don't know Skye and have no clue on how to work with such traumatized dogs while we've been working with the best dog behaviorists and trainers in the country for the last 2 years. It adds to the frustration and the feeling of being alone, whereas a few words of support and compassion would be enough and very much appreciated.
Luckily, we have a wonderful and wise dog trainer who suggested we took a couple weeks break from training. She noticed that training was becoming stressful and wasn't fun anymore neither for Skye nor us. We did felt guilty at first and wanted to give up everything. Maybe Skye will never wear a collar or accept a pet sitter, and we just have to accept that...
The break actually did good. It helped us to clear our minds and refocus. We resumed training, but instead of a couple of "long" sessions (~5 minutes), we are sprinkling the day with short training bits (< 1 minute). And this seems to be working pretty well! Skye is left wanting more, and it looks like she is getting excited when we take her collar out!
"Desensitization and counter-conditioning can be a slow process but you are doing such a great job with her! Keep up the great work!"
Our vet behaviorist knows that humans like dogs need lots of positive reinforcement to succeed :)