Tag: dog training

Frustration Training with Poppy

Poppy on Lookout

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!

Poppy on Lookout

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!

The Poppy Diaries – Week 3

Poppydog

Things have settled down a bit this week. After Poppy choosing her own bed last weekend, bedtimes have been much smoother. Poppy comes upstairs with us, sniffs around while we get ready for bed & then settles down quite nicely. She usually sleeps until we get up & knows what the alarm is in the morning! She’s definitely happier, as are we as we get to sleep longer! Yes! We’ve also been working on her training & she’s pretty much nailed sit, wait (at the side of the road) and has really improved on ‘stay’. We’re really proud doggy parents!

Tonight we’re taking her to frustration training and I’m really hoping that this will help with her frustration when she: meets other dogs, meets new people, smells squirrels, sees pigeons, wants attention & doesn’t get it, and when she can’t see what’s going on. She loves to be the centre of attention. We had someone come over to measure up for new carpet on the stairs this week. Fortunately  he loved dogs, as Poppy was all over him! She climbed up next to him, stood on him & presented herself to him so that he would rub her belly!

Poppydog

Poppy has had me in stitches a few times this week. The other day she was standing in the garden, sniffing the air, and her (massive) ears were blowing in the wind!

These are some of the things I’ve learnt about Poppy this week:

  • She really does behave like a puppy. We’ve been reading more about training her this week & she shows lots of puppy behaviour. For example, when she thinks we’re playing, she bites like a puppy. In order to rectify this, we have to yelp at her like a puppy would.
  • She doesn’t know how to play with other dogs. Poppy has met a lot of dogs in the park this week, but beyond basic hello’s, she doesn’t know what else to do with them. One dog wanted to play with her, but because he didn’t do the puppy biting, Poppy didn’t know what to do.
  • She doesn’t like the hoover, like most dogs but doesn’t mind the drill one bit! She also isn’t keen on the ironing board. (I know how she feels!)
  • When Poppy yawns, she howls! I love this bit about her, as it really shows her hound side. And it’s supercute!
  • Poppy wishes she could climb trees! Whenever she sees a squirrel or a pigeon, she follows the scent to the tree it’s in, she bounds about on her hind legs, trying desperately to climb the tree with her front paws! She’s so funny!

Poppy has met a lot of people in the park this week, and everyone concludes that she is adorable! Her massive ears & paws that come from the Basset Hound in her make her stand out and they make her really cute!

I’m really keen to go to the frustration training later on. When she smells or sees a squirrel she goes crazy & pulls on the lead like her life depends on it. It can make the walk quite unpleasant if she doesn’t calm down. She’s so focused on the smell, that we might as well not exist – we cannot get her attention for love nor money! Fingers crossed!

The Poppy Diaries – Week 2

Poppy Dog

Poppy Dog

We’ve had Poppy for two weeks now & I’m pretty sure she’s happy to still be with us! We’ve had another interesting week and we’re all still trying to figure things out. For example, for the last few nights, Poppy has gone to bed without a fuss and slept well until getting up time. Then, last night, she refused to go to bed. Let me give you some background to this. Her previous owners said that she wasn’t great at going to bed, so they made her sleep in a crate. Looking online, this is one of the biggest pieces of advice dog owners are given, along with covering the crate & leaving the radio on. So, to help her settle in well, as she was used to the crate, we carried on using it, with the intention of getting rid of when the time felt right. We don’t want a crate in our small house, but if Poppy needed it, so be it. Last night, Poppy refused to get in it. No amount of treats would get her in that crate. We were at quite a loss of what to do. So we just left her to find her own place to sleep. She chose the day bed in the room next to our bedroom & slept as close to the wall as she could, meaning she was as close to us as she could be. (We don’t want her to sleep in our room, as we don’t want her on our bed.) I did a quick Google & refusal to sleep in a crate, which is out of character, can be a result of ‘over bonding’! I think it’s fair to say that we bonded yesterday, as we took her for a walk near the river, which is something she may never have done before and she loved it!

As we were going to try & train her out of using the crate, we’re going to let her sleep wherever she wants. She didn’t make a peep all night, even when it got light. As long as she’s happy & lets us sleep, I’m happy for her to make the day bed her own.

Here’s what I’ve learnt about Poppy this week:

  • She likes walking by the river. There were a lot of smells as we walked by the Thames & she enjoyed tracking them. We walked for just under 2 miles so she was pretty worn out by the end, but she really seemed happy!
  • She’ll do almost anything for a treat. In her first training session, we learned that while she might not understand playing, she will quite happily sit, stay, walk on the lead, wait to cross the road & stop barking at pigeons for a treat.
  • She wants to eat my knitting needles. I knit with wooden needles & she’s very interested in them. She’s tried to bite them a few times & has snuffled her way through the knitting to get to the needles!
  • She’s a seat-stealer! If you get up from your seat on the sofa, Poppy will jump into it in a millisecond! Not sure if it’s warm or because we’ve created some awesome bum grooves, but she will always get in your seat.
  • She’s a cake lover. There isn’t much human food that Poppy is overly interested in. She can take it or leave it. Unless it’s cake. My OH brought me a muffin on Saturday & as I sat to eat it, Poppy went crazy & tried it & the wrapper which I left on the plate.

Every day we learn something new & often hilarious about Poppy. When she’s in a playful mood, she gets this crazy look in her eyes. It’s the funniest thing! She’s getting better at not getting frustrated by dogs on the lead, but we’re attending some training on improving this further next weekend. In the meantime, you’ll still see me trying to encourage her not to get distracted by other dogs, by running & jumping around like a crazy person. Oh the shame!

Poppy and her First Training Lesson

Poppy Chewing the Hoof

Yesterday Poppy had her first training session. I contacted Sheila from Teach My Dog and asked about attending classes, but after I explained the situation with Poppy, she recommended a 1:1 session first, get her into some good behaviour and then go to classes. It was fantastic and a real eye opener.

Sheila had asked us to make a list of things we wanted to ask her & boy were we ready! As we sat & chatted about how to get Poppy to walk better on the lead, not bark during the night, react calmly to other dogs, people & pigeons, Sheila gave Poppy a cow hoof to chew on. Yep. An actual cow hoof. I was not expecting that. Never seen a cow hoof that hasn’t been attached to a cow! Having said that, at least all the parts of the cow are getting used! And Poppy loved it. Wouldn’t put it down! We talked through our concerns, what we’ve done so far and how Poppy was reacting. The best thing was that we learnt we’re doing everything right and Poppy is still settling in. We need to be patient with Poppy – she’s been through a lot of changes in a short space of time. Plus it’s becoming clear that she hasn’t seen an awful lot in her life so every new experience is going to overwhelm her. Though, not the cow hoof. She loved that!

After talking things through, Sheila walked us through some basic training, which was awesome! Poppy can already sit, but if she doesn’t get what she wants quickly, she jumps up & barks in your face! We worked on sit, stay, watch, leave and walking nicely on the lead. Poppy was really good and worked really hard – well, she’ll do anything for treats. Wouldn’t we all?!

The sad thing we discovered though, is that Poppy doesn’t know how to play. She’s obviously never been taught and while she enjoys ripping Mr Chicken to pieces & can run up & down the garden with a toy in her mouth like a crazed pooch, she only plays for a few minutes at a time. So one of the things we need to do is help her learn to play and make it more exciting than anything else, that way we can use it as a distraction technique when we’re out walking. No pressure there then!

Even though it feels a bit like we’ve got a mountain to climb, we both know it’ll be worth it and Poppy will be a happier dog for it. Plus we’ll be happier owners, mainly because we’ll get to sleep through the night! Once we’ve got Poppy calmer around other dogs, we can attend classes and improve her socialising skills, which I know Poppy will love!