Wednesday, 29 April 2009

More fears and phobias (children and footballs)

Tonight's gentle walk turned out to be more of a training exercise than I planned, but thankfully I grabbed a treat bag and clicker before we headed out! As usual there was me + sensitive fearful Finn + deaf wannabe-traffic-herder Farah. Usually on these walks I can focus on Farah's training while Finn bimbles along taking in the smells. Tonight we ended up doing some good work instead! I've tried to condense a long story into a series of challenges that we faced and a bit about how we coped with them (this post has already vanished once!)

1. setting off to the post box, once on the slightly busier road Finn appeared not quite right (tail tight, ears tense and pulling a little on the leash) so we stoped, played some Give M A Break CU games and touch the post box :--). Worked very niely and on we went.

2. kids kicking a ball in the back garden of a house way across the street from us, definitely not that close. Finn starts to freeze up slightly. Stop and do TTouch zigzags, bring him in beside me and c+t (click + treat), walk on using Balance Leash (will post pics soon!) and c+t for any signs of reduced tension at all. Within a minute or so almost back to normal and focusing nicely.

3. kids in our normally quiet fields up by the horses. Finn seems okay but I notice he's not running around like a happy collie, lots of displacement sniffing I think. Move on through the fields, at a safe distance do a minute of cued relaxation and massage.

4. near the exit of our walk there are three kids playing football. After little moving around we get a comfortable distance - about the length of a football pitch! We play Look at That, then release to go sniff. Try for some passive relaxation but its too much. Feel good that we coped, but grumpy that we can't walk where we wanted to!

5. on our way to the alternative exit past some gardens that back onto the fields, there are some little kids playing in one garden. Out of sight but definitely in hearing!! Hmmm, some zigzags, some simple attention behaviours and then *woo hoo* we find a stick! The one thing I forgot to pick up was a toy, so we make the most of the stick and play games as we pass by the gardens (still a good 20feet away from them though). This is great - although Finn is stressed he is able to play with me, not too hard mouth/eyes and no running ahead to escape.

After all of that we just need to get home - thankfully no more challenges on the way, but we do stop to do some quality sniffing and play touch the tree trunk on our way :-)

Hopefully I will be able to sort out the cd of sounds on Friday and then we can begin the counter-conditioning/desensitisation process in earnest.

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