I was really happy to talk to my dog behaviorist and trainer friend this weekend. It helped us create a training plan for Skye, but also set the right expectation and realize that we already made lots of progress.
Since we have the luxury of working from home with a very flexible schedule, and there is no hard deadline on the next milestones with Skye, we are going to take a slow build-a-strong-relationship-first approach. Just accepting this removed quite some of the pressure I was putting on myself and Skye like putting a collar on her for the New Year.
1) We are going to teach her to target an object. It will help her interact with people and objects with more confidence, and help her to focus in stressful situations. We will start with our hands, and then move to objects like her collar. At the same time, the collar is going to become something very cool and so fun that she wants to be near it. Many good things will happen around the collar: treats, play...
2) Once she loves her collar and can target it without any stress, we will start asking her to put her nose through it and then her neck. The goal is that she is in control and that she willingly passes her head through the collar instead of us putting the collar on her. Will see how that goes when we get there :)
3) We will work on restraining through play at first. Then work on getting Skye comfortable to navigate between us and the furniture, walk between our legs, ... The goal is twofold: be able to handle her + getting her ready for the leash.
4) Once she is happily wearing a collar, we will start attaching a stub of a leash to it. The work will be on clipping the leash, and getting her used to have something hanging from her neck.
Without wanting to set a fictional deadline, I think we can achieve this by the end of the year. We have 360 days left :)
The other thing we discussed is socialization, especially with dogs. As we aren't able to put her on leash, nor go to a neutral place to meet another dog, my friend suggested to setup some partition with x-pens and have the dogs meeting through the fences. If there are any signs of discomfort or hostility, we simply abort the meet, but if we see playful and positive behaviors, we allow the meet. There is no hurry for this, but I have the feeling that having a friend would help Skye.
To be continued...