This week was one of those long weeks that just dragged so I’m just glad we made it to the end in one piece!
During the week Bonnie received a parcel in the post, we had entered her into another competition over at the Support Adoption For Pets Facebook page. She didn’t win one of the main prizes which was a puzzle toy but everyone who entered won a runner up toy which was very kind of them.
The toy is hilarious looking, its like a Christmas rooster but with leopard print undies/shorts for some reason haha but Bonnie seems to like it anyway!
This week we have done a ton of training with Bonnie. First of all on the fun side of things we have continued training the “kiss” trick along with adding a hug. It’s for a bit of fun but I’m hoping it will also be useful for increasing tolerance of people being up in her face as many people hug and squeeze and kiss a dog’s heads without realising the dog is uncomfortable.
We also worked on desensitising her to the dogs next door as she has become increasingly reactive and it’s time we started working seriously on it before it gets out of hand.
As you can see in the video at the start she just wants to bolt out the door and if she was off lead she would run to the fence beside where the dogs are kept (2 big lovely German Shepherds kept in a 6×4 ft pen 24/7 😦 ) and start whining and bouncing around then run madly about the garden. I’m hoping to make enough process so that we can return to doing some fun agility in the garden.
Also during the week I walked back into town to the street where Bonnie freaked out over the pigeons for some training. There was no pigeons about but she was clearly trying to look for them so I walked her to just below her threshold, let her look down the street a bit and then clicked and treated while moving backwards so we could repeat the process. I think we will work on this a few times a week now to really try and improve her threshold.
Yesterday (Saturday) we took her to Loughshore park nearby as we went 2 weeks ago and we had a brilliant time but this visit was a total disaster. There were loads of off lead dogs, children, the dreaded birds and other distractions and she was just totally overstimulated. I tried my best to regain her attention but eventually lost my temper. I was so disappointed that I lost my temper because it did nothing to improve the situation, in fact it just made it worse so we went back to the car and left.
I never meant to purposively “flood” Bonnie but I will do my best not to in future and more importantly I will never lose my temper with her again as it’s my fault if she “misbehaves” because it means I set her up for failure whether it was accidental or not. In fact today we went back to the park again and only made it about 30ft from the car as we spent over an hour systematically desensitising and preventing her from becoming over excited. We even broke it down to turning off the engine, taking off seatbelts, opening car doors etc so that she would never become overexcited and would relax before each big step in her eyes no matter how trivial it was for us.
Whenever we finally made it out of the car she was offering loads of eye contact, brilliant behaviour and much improved body language so making that extra effort to de-escalate her excitement in the car and exiting it really made such a huge difference. We are going to continue to do this and slowly increase the distance that we can travel from the car.
I need to remember that we want to change her behaviour and most importantly her emotional response so we can have a wonderful next 10, 15, hopefully more, years together and that’s not going to change overnight or without some elbow grease or learning pains during the way. She is worth that work and effort without a doubt though ❤