Rovers Return Training Academy

My week in review

This is the 1st week of putting in more effort in both of my dogs, after letting little behaviours slide – leading to bigger behaviours! And an overall lack of enrichment and exercise. 

Recap – Bert has always been anxious around unknown dogs, he has never played with another dog (other than his brother) but once he understands that the dog is no threat to him he will be ok, say hello then he likes his space and as long as that is respected all is good, but I have noticed an increase in behavioural responses to dogs in general (when he sees them), corners have become an issue (in case a dog pops up- see my blog on flashbulb memories), and some dogs (usually big and fluffy, GSD and huskies in particular, plus a few dogs he sees regularly create an instant over the threshold response. 

This week was not really about working specifically on his issues, but more about building the foundation, and ensuring that his needs were met. I increased exercise to 2 x per day. Ditched the bowl and their food is dispensed differently and throughout the day instead of set times, using lick mat, kong, searching, scattering, puzzles and also a daily chew. This is designed to enrich, promote natural behaviours, burn excess energy and allow dogs to do what dogs do. 

I have also taken more responsibility in ensuring he feels safe. Instead of walking him around blind corners, I have given him space by crossing the roads, desensitising him in the areas that I know are a trigger for him. You know when you see the dog physically freeze and stare, this is where you need to work, in those areas before a reaction occurs.

The Results

Overall there has been a significant reduction in his barking. 

On good days I would guess around a 60% reduction

On bad days he has still barked but nowhere near the degree before, even in the presence of a husky he reacts to. I was able to stop on the opposite side of the road and speak to the owner whilst feeding Bert. Unfortunately, there was an incident where a dog popped up as the footpath crossed and he ran toward it barking, luckily he has good recall and his intention is never to harm the dog, but to protect himself. This is bad for him to do as it works for him, but also not nice for the dog or owner so I really try not to allow this to happen. 

This day had been a bad one overall, on the sight of the Huskey dog, as I was working with Bert another dog came up from behind and crossed in front, and another dog popped up at the bottom of the steps and something else spooked him on the path. But I always say we can’t control every incident and I had previously trained the running at the trigger out of him, but more recently it has returned.

Since then the days have been good, he saw several dogs today with very little reaction to any, including another Huskey, he hardly barked at that one and did not bark at all at another 2 dogs that walked past us on our way back

Overall progress has been fab, so now to proceed to the next part of the plan, building optimism!

I couldn’t be happier with the progress.

If you struggling with your dog’s behaviour and don’t know where to turn, get in touch and we can begin forming a plan and coaching your dog to feel safe and optimistic.