This is a blog about progress updates, but I figure it's important to be honest about the ups as well as the downs.
Update for Laird
The much loved giant GWP and his ongoing struggles with giving stuff up and love of eating plastic (and anything else that fits in his mouth) have often featured in my writing.
Last week I discovered first hand just how powerful his jaws are.
I have to be honest, it's not a question I’d ever considered before… but it turns out a large adult dog can exert quite a lot of pressure through their teeth.
It was dark, and while I knew Laird had managed to pull some of the packaging out, I underestimated how much was already in his mouth.
In too much of a hurry to turn on the light, I approached and asked Laird to target my hand with the plastic in his mouth. Usually if he can do this, he'll also be able to give it up.
That night I mis-read the situation.
As my fingers made contact with the plastic, Laird suddenly pulled away.
I tried to hold on, hoping to prevent him from swallowing it.
Laird re-gripped the plastic to make sure he had a firmer hold (letting go and re-grabbing)
My hand was caught in Laird's mouth, and as he started to squeeze his jaws the pain became incredibly intense.
The next 5 minutes felt like the longest in my life.
He didn't understand why I wasn't letting go of the plastic.
And I physically couldn't get my hand out of his mouth!
At one stage I had both hands trapped.
But eventually, my hands escaped, and yes I abandoned the plastic!
In the two days after the incident, Laird returned to finding and eating rubbish on walks with a vengeance. I couldn't ask him to give anything up in the house.
But four days later we were able to attend a Gun Dog Games workshop all about retrieves, and it went really well. Both Laird and I have a long way to go, but the setback was much less than I feared.
*later on I discovered Laird had split a claw right down to the quick on his front left paw, so was probably in quite a lot of pain, poor lad
Training, changing or improving our dog's behaviour is a life long challenge.
But even when things go horribly wrong, you WILL land on a cushion from all your previous training, relationship building and more.
And that means it takes less time to recover from each set back, I promise!
Which is where the value of regular, incremental training comes in. Every positive experience you have with your dog is a deposit in your joint trust account.
And there's always something left to build back up from.
Next week I'll tell you about Brian coping with the scaffolders, and Quest facing an unexpected bang!
Morag, the Big Yin and the Collie Girls
Want to do more training with your dog?New courses start on Monday 7th October at Yorkshire Museum of Farming
APDT Good Companion Award (weekly class)
Essential real life exercises you and your dog can enjoy learning together in a group setting.
You will both learn: response to name, manners (not jumping up), walking nicely on lead, coming back when called, stay, self-control around food and doorways (including the car) and play manners.
- 5 week courses
- Suitable for new starters AND progression students.
- PLUS you can choose to be assessed for the APDT Good Companion Award at Foundation or Progress levels.
Sniffing School: Bomb Detectors (weekly class)
The dog moves steadily down the line of people, suddenly the tail is going extra fast and the bum slams onto the ground. Those brown eyes are staring hard at your left pocket… that’s a passive indication!
This is where the find stops being the reward - vital for a bomb detection dog, but an extra challenge for your dog to take on!
- Three week module
- Pre-req: Dogs can settle quietly in class; can search for at least one target scent; can offer one consistent behaviour (e.g. sit)
Book Sniffing School (Bomb Detection)