Sunday night, while most people were chilling out & preparing for the week ahead, my OH, Poppy & I headed out to do some training. Frustration training, no less. What the heck? I hear you ask! Well, Poppy is a frustrated dog. This means that when presented with people, dogs or a situation where she’s not getting what she wants, she gets frustrated. And shows this by barking. A lot. While this can be a little bit annoying (& embarrassing for us!), it’s very stressful for her. We want Poppy to be a happy dog as much as we want her to be well behaved.
We went along to the class, which was run by Sheila from Teach my Dog, that had two other dogs in attendance, who, it turned out, were more fearful than frustrated. Therefore, Poppy was worked with first. One of the other dogs was put at the end of the hall with my OH while Poppy and the trainer Sheila and myself stood at the other end with Poppy. Every time Poppy made eye contact with other dog, she started barking. When she turned & looked at us and was quiet we took a step forward. We did this until she met the dog. If she barked, we didn’t move forward. This shows her the she gets the reward of getting closer to the dog when she’s quiet. If she barked, nothing happened & we ignored the ‘bad behaviour’. It was so useful! I’d definitely seen the signs of stress that Poppy displayed at the class, but didn’t know what they meant. It does mean that if we meet another dog & their owner in the park, we have to practice this so if we meet you, please bear with us!
After the training, we let Poppy off the lead and she had a play with one of the other dogs, although, to be honest, once she’s met the dog, she’s over it! She doesn’t really know how to ‘play’ with other dogs, so we’re going to attend socialising walks to help her. She did, however, show off her much improved recall skills and kept going to whoever called her (& whoever had the best treats!) I was so proud of her – She coped really well in a new situation and was definitely the best dog in the class, not that I’m biased!
Along with a few other techniques we’re practising, we’re hoping to reduce her frustration at home. She sits right by the front of the house & goes crazy whenever someone knocks at the door or at next door, when the post comes, when a car stops outside… I could go on.
The other thing we’re working on is stopping her pulling on the lead when we go out for walks. She already wears a harness & sadly, my OH & I aren’t interesting enough to distract her from all the smells she encounters in the park. This means that we’ll probably need to try head collar, as it restricts their head movement. I’ve been hoping we wouldn’t as I know Poppy isn’t going to like it one bit, but everyone will benefit if she walks better on the lead. I’ll keep you posted on that one.
For now, I’m going to bask in the joy of her success so far, which includes a longer play session on Monday where she played with a toy for about 5 whole minutes! This is a new record! So proud!