It has been another great week, with very little reaction or barking.
I know the video is not great, but it is hard filling, watching and feeding.
The scenario is that we came out onto a field to 5 dogs in the front and very little reaction (the barking is from the other dogs)
We caught up and there was no chasing barking or anything. I am so pleased!!
I have again concentrated this week on calmness, reducing the exposure of triggers and general enrichment, as well as working on the triggers that I am aware of that create a rise in stress levels.
What I have noticed this week is that Ernie triggers his behaviour.
Around 5 pm (sometimes earlier) when they think that my partner is coming home Ernie’s behaviour becomes aroused, he will whine and bark at the door. I think this is exasperating as that time is near dinner time. But I have changed that, it will just take longer for this to change.
This triggers Bert into barking and being unable to relax so this week that will be my focus.
As you can see from the pictures Bert met 5 dogs, he knows 2 of them but with only 2 barks (see the video) his reaction to sight was much better!
Last week I split their meals into 3 enriching experiences.
1 day a lick mat and a kong and a bone thrown onto the grass/
day 2, kong, bone thrown and a search station (with their food)
I followed this pattern all week.
The reason for this is by changing the way in which they are fed can have an impact on behaviour.
Chewing and licking is a natural ways to calm and bring down arousal levels.
Searching for food triggers the seeking system.
Jaak Panksepp’s studies on animals’ brains found 7 emotional systems, one of which is the seeking system.
When dogs are searching, the reward and motivation system in the brain is triggered. This part of the brain is essential for survival as it promotes seeking for valuable resources.
The seeking system incites exploration and the anticipation of finding that valuable resource.
Searching aids calmness, focus, and optimism and improves mood. As the find gets closer, dopamine is released and we all know that this is the feel-good hormone.
Contrafreeloading is a behaviour seen in almost all animals.
Food is the ultimate resource and when presented with food in a bowl, or food that takes some effort to seek, most animals ignored the free food and chose to engage in the harder task of adding some effort to get the food.
Ditching the food bowl is great.
This is why it has helped Bert so much
Increasing dopamine – aids reduce anxiety
It has so many benefits to aid dog behaviour.
Have a look at this video