When you live with a frustrated or fearful dog, you know that one of the biggest challenges is moving from management towards putting all your hard training into practice.
Don’t get me wrong, management really IS important. But for lots of us it’s not enough.
If your goal is to get closer to other dogs, and be able to pass them on a street walk, then that’s what we need to be working towards.
But the real world is so damn unpredictable!
Guessing what the other people or dogs might do is really draining, and I often wish I had a radar strapped to my back.
Planning set-up sessions with other people and their dogs in safe predictable locations can be a great starting point.
Before you try to recruit a helper or practice dog/person, here’s some homework:
- Write a brief (150 word max) introduction to your dog, and the things they find difficult in the world. Don’t get bogged down in the whys, just describe the dog you have right now
- Now write down three realistic scenarios that you would like to get more practice in e.g. watching a playful or active dog at a distance of 30 metres. Get Specific!
- And then think about what you and your dog, or other dogs if you have them, could offer to someone else. What if you were the stooge? Is your dog an unusual colour or breed? Do they love to tug (a great distraction), or are they gentle with puppies?
Now you’re ready to find some people to practice with!
Planning a set-up
- Communicate BEFORE you meet up – make sure you both understand what your dogs need out of the session and share the homework you just wrote
- Check what the other person usually does, and what they’ve found most successful. What methods or techniques are they using?
- Set your boundaries e.g. distance between dogs, length of sessions, how you will handle any meltdowns
- If you’re working with a behaviourist, involve them in the planning stages!
- Discuss the location and potential problems, or rent a secure field for the first couple of practices
Use any resource groups your own trainer or behaviourist has set up, as working with people who have had the same basics makes it all a lot easier.
If you need to cast your net a bit wider, why not look at the Reactive Dogs FB group? https://www.facebook.com/groups/1633448230248202/
Our WCC Rehab Club is all about setting up real world situations, but safely. If you’d like the chance to feel secure and calm while your dog practices the difficult stuff – just book yourself on to a session (open to all our behaviour & training clients).
If you’ve worked with another behaviourist please just drop us an email to arrange a brief assessment as we may be able to help! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
WCC Rehab Club 19 Aug 2018
This weekend we got super lucky with the weather despite a less than encouraging start! Three delightful dogs and their support teams attended (Caddy, Merlyn and Dora) the first 2-hour Rehab Club session.
For us as trainers (Morag, Clare & Kady) we loved having you for that bit longer. Much less rushing around and we were able to get at least three working sessions in for each dog too. We can’t wait for the next one!
It was lovely to have Dora and Caddy coping so well at a little distance while Merlyn practiced polite greetings and play with our secret gundog team (Laird GWP, Summer Flatcoat, Poppy WCS). And all in the safety of knowing no other random dogs were going to appear! Your homework emails plus resources are on their way.
Resources for everyone
- Please do post on both our secret WCC Rehab Coffee & Cake group, and our general FB group for WCC family if you’re looking for dogs and people to practice with.
- Secret WCC Coffee & Cake https://www.facebook.com/groups/1421143704583630/
- Well Connected Canines and their Humans! https://www.facebook.com/groups/WellConnectedCanine/
- Don’t forget about the Reactive Dogs UK Facebook group too. It’s pretty well moderated and can be a good place to find practice partners BUT always remember do your due diligence and chat in advance. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1633448230248202/