Week in Review – Post for Bonnie and lots of training

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.

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Walking into town we pass this wall and at every gap she has to be nosy and poke her head through lol

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.

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Bonnie happily swimming at Loughshore park 2 weeks ago

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.

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Can I get out yet? We’ve been here ages!

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 ❤

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5 thoughts on “Week in Review – Post for Bonnie and lots of training

  1. Whenever I read one of your blogs I always have to start writing the comment partway through because there’s so many things I want to comment on XD
    (also if I make any typos or it gets posted half written, Kasper is charging around with a plastic aubergine and stamping everything!!!)

    First of all your training is putting me to shame haha, I LOVE the kiss trick – my favourite thing is that she holds her face there and doesn’t actually lick, it’s *so* cute!! Wonderful work with the dogs next door too.

    As for the unsuccessful trip to the park, I can completely empathise…we have had some nightmare walks recently, and with Rey once he’s over-stimulated he bounces at the end of the lead and does these horrifying screechy yaps, so you can imagine the looks we get…

    Usually I’m good at ignoring what other people think (eg. I can easily tell people to back off from Kasper now etc) but when Raiden’s doing his screaming I really feel those dirty looks, and I shouldn’t feel embarrassed but I do..I’ve got to the point now where at the time I’ll just happy talk him through it and try get his head back in the game, then afterwards we’ll be talking and saying things like “god he really is horrible and annoying at times” in the happiest voice…I love that I can bitch about my dogs as long as I sound happy, it gets a lot of the frustration with them and myself out out 😛

    The training you’re putting into Bonnie is wonderful to see, and very inspiring, I really do love your training posts. Also it’s good to know I’m not alone and owners who I think of as being awesome can also get frustrated when a walk doesn’t go as planned 😉

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    1. Aw thanks for all your lovely comments, I would’ve always said you were putting my training to shame! I guess we always just see everyone’s else’s achievements and not their downfalls so I guess it’s nice to share our crappy moments too as it’s not always straightforward as for example Kikopup’s videos look 😛
      Ah poor Rey, I can only imagine what looks you get, it’s awful and it can be embarassing because I feel like there’s a lot of societal pressure to discipline or correct your dog and not “let them walk over you” and all that rubbish. I think I will definitely use the happy voice in future to let out my frustrations haha.
      I feel like I’ve stagnated a bit in our training as we had to stop going to training classes as she began to get super uncomfortable and reactive after a dog snarked at her and so that really dampened my spirits for a bit. We stopped taking as many trips out and kept to the same walking routes for the past while and done a lot of management to get by, but I’m trying to really make a push to actually train and change her emotions and behaviour so we can go more places with her and not rely on management as much.
      Thanks again for your lovely compliments, it really does mean a lot as sometimes I feel a bit in over my head but also I’m glad that we’ve got the challenge to train her instead of someone who could’ve shouted at her and shut her down as she is the softest dog I’ve ever seen, even us getting annoyed at films or games makes her uncomfortable so needless to say we’ve gotten a lot calmer since we got her 🙂

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      1. Haha that’s so funny! It is good to share crappy moments I think, and it’s also good to reinforce the fact that a lot of PR training (especially with fear issues) takes months, often years.

        I know a LOT of my family and friends always say things like “oh can Rey do this yet” or “is Kasper okay with this yet?” and it’s like *no*, we’ve been working on it for like two weeks!!!

        You’re spot on with the discipline thing…when we’re happy talking Rey and trying to get him to willingly create distance from whatever’s excited him (99% another dog) we quite often get gross comments – months back we picked him up after he yapped at this dog approaching on a narrow lane (no paths off it or ways to create room), and this old bat actually stopped and said to us “you do know you’ve just rewarded him for barking, don’t you?”because we were feeding him treats in our arms…if we picked him up and removed him from the thing he wanted to get to, how is that a reward??

        People can be really rude and invasive with other people’s dogs and especially how they train them…we’ve had people literally come up, start manhandling Kasper, and tell us how to be dominant over him…why would I need to dominate an extremely sensitive dog?! And because my dogs are excitable around people (Rey through “HI PLAY WITH ME!!” and Kasper through nerves) people stopping to offer advice always just makes it worse… it’s why I literally never say anything to other people about their training methods, unless they’re physically abusing their dog. I can’t stand when they do it to me.

        Happy-talking is great, I literally use it all the time…for happily telling my dogs I am cross at them, to saying things like “oh that was a horribly rude cyclist that just went past wasn’t it Rey!”and the instant anything unexpected happens (eg. concord above us) it’s “wow, wasn’t that exciting! Yay Rey!” XD

        When we adopted Kasper I felt like I was drowning in his issues and fear. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to cope. He’s a lot like your Bonnie, very sensitive – I can’t get frustrated over ANYTHING, or at least can’t show it verbally. All disagreements have to be had in happy voices in our house!! The worst thing is that Kasper’s reaction to me being sad / irritated is to come sit ON me and shove his face in mine…which doesn’t often help XD

        Just randomly, do you do the engage-disengage game with Bonnie? I bet you do, but if not it’s definitely worth a try…made such a huuuge improvement with Rey (and even Kasper) over everything but dogs that are too close 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I can’t believe how rude some people are, thankfully I’ve never been given training advice while out with Bonnie and if someone manhandled Bonnie I sure as hell would tell them my mind. I have had to run past a group of kids before though that were like squealing aww the wee doggy and coming closer and I was like I can’t be bothered to try and talk sense into them so just jogged past them to keep Bonnie focused and they were all like aww how cruel she won’t let the doggy say hi haha kids eh and I’ve also got the stupid people barking at us cause god knows what they get out of that!

        I try not to get involved in other people’s training methods either but I do sometime mention what’s worked for Bonnie or stuff around positive reinforcement just to hope that they may start to research it more as I feel a lot of people just rely on what they’ve always done or what their parents did or what one person who just happened to have a bomb proof dog told them etc and never think to research more. Because I know even from doing child development studies at school that studies moved on and what was accepted before is now actually shown to be harmful like for example baby sleeping positions etc.

        I have read about the engage disengage before but haven’t implemented it too much, I’ve done more work at LAT but yea I think you’re right that if I persevere with it more that it would make a big improvement, thanks for your advice! I’m always open to learning more 🙂

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      3. We had loads of people grabbing at Kasper, especially early on…it took a while but we soon got the hang of telling people to stop & back off before they even reached us. Kids are always the hardest as they won’t always listen, and the parents usually just don’t care! We haven’t had too many terrible people with Rey luckily, but yeah we’ve had people bark at our dogs – WHY?!

        I’m the same, I’ll happily chat to anyone about training methods and how great PR is and why it works…but I can’t imagine ever going up to someone and being like “oh you’re doing it wrong, your dog’s spoilt, you need to do this” etc…yet people do it to me, and it’s *always* about being dominant and a pack leader 😛

        Haha we love the engage-disengage game…it’s great because it teaches the dog to calmly watch the trigger, but then turn away and put their attention on the owner. I struggled with LAT because I felt they got more excited as they watched and started ignoring treats, and I could never work out what I was doing wrong…the disengage part was definitely what we were missing!

        We’ve had some cool experiences where when Kasper sees something scary, instead of lunging and going scared-giddy-crazy, he immediately comes to me unasked…it’s really cool 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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