So as the title suggests when training out behaviour problems you can get stuck in a rut with one thing or other. To be honest Leesi has done brilliantly with a lot of things but when she is stuck in a rut with one thing it’s easy to forget how far she’s come. Like for instance she can now walk past barking dogs at gates (although she whines the whole time going past), she doesn’t react if there are dogs walking across the road, she is OK with dogs walking past if they are a couple of feet away and a new one is that she is happy to walk a couple of feet behind another dog which is great. The one big thing is that she is too stressed out when another dog walks towards us, it’s OK if they are walking towards us a few feet away just not if they are head on.
Now looking back on everything now, it’s not too much of a big deal because of everything else that she has accomplished in her training in such a short time is amazing. But when you are on a walk with a dog that’s non stop barking it can get very discouraging. The looks that other dog walkers give you is the worst because you can tell what they are thinking. However, I think they don’t judge me or her so much because she always wears her ‘Nervous’ jacket on walks which means that a lot of dog walkers can see us coming and know to keep a bit of a distance. It also gives them an explanation as to why she is going crazy at their dogs, I find that because she wears the jacket a lot of people are more understanding of her behaviour and also gives her the space she needs to keep out of the ‘zone’ and focus.
You see she isn’t just nervous of dogs she’s nervous of new people as well, so the jacket means that people aren’t always crowding her and being loud and crazy around her. It also means that people ask if they can fuss her and so I can make sure she only gets positive experiences to build her confidence. I am very lucky that my neighbours are understanding and also most of my neighbours have dogs, so one – it’s good training to walk past them and two it means they are sensitive with her and are calm and quiet around her which also means that she can have a lot more positive experiences with people and mostly men and kids.
Yesterday we had a great experience where a group of my neighbours were out talking next to the Akita (which is the dog Leesi is most nervous about) and the french bull dog living next door. The Akita’s owner bless him tried to warn me that his dog would bark at her and that it was best if I crossed the street. I told him that it was OK I knew his dog would and that she needed to walk past him. Which she did do although she whined while walking past and watching him – the Akita just lay there watching which is what he normally does to be honest – and the group of people stopped me to ask about Leesi.
You see we have only just moved to this area which is right next to beautiful countryside and fantastic dog walks. It’s been really lovely because this village is really lovely and so are the people. Random people will say to me that they have seen us around and that I am doing well with her, which is encouraging to hear although at times I feel like that’s not the case.
We had a great day today however, I took her on her training walk this morning and she did brilliantly. It was very windy which normally really spooks her because of everything blowing around. But she did really well, she focused on me, kept to heel and walked a few feet behind a Jack Russel. She also was able to keep calm when the Akita was walking towards her a few feet away without a problem, so I was very proud of her.
On our second walk, I waited until it was the evening and quiet so that I could work on her off lead training at the park without distractions. I decided that I would take the risk and leave her muzzle off (My behaviourist had said to always use it in off lead training just in case) but I did put her on a 10m long line. I brought a squeaky toy to use as a distraction if need and also her Kong to throw and for her chase.
She had a lot of fun and she did great with her obedience and did off lead heeling as well which was unexpected but I was very impressed and proud of her. She has so much potential that she doesn’t always show to me but when we’ve had a bad few days she suddenly comes out with it which gives me hope that she’s taking the training in and she will over come her fears.
We will be having another session in the next few days so I will let you know how it goes. Thanks for reading! 😉