Friday, 23 May 2014

Friday, 23 May

The work I've been doing with Alice since the meeting with Jim has taught me 2 key things:
  1. You need to watch your dog for signs - their body-language; signs of what they might be about to do; what they are doing, and how they are reacting to their environment. I thought I knew about dogs, and about my dogs in particular but I've never really (I mean really) concentrated on watching them in this way. It's been a revelation and I can now see so many aspects of their behaviour in a different way. Chasing isn't just about running after each other; there's more going on depending on what happened before they started, who the dogs are, where they are, etc.
  2. It takes time - I always knew this, but I've now learned that time means more than a couple of weeks. It means weeks, months, maybe for the rest of their life. Giving it time means understanding and accepting that from this point on the way you interact with your dog is going to change. From now on you are taking on a particular way of working with your dog, which includes watching for signs and using specific training instructions as much as you can every day. Never miss an opportunity to give an instruction, watch your timing, correct when necessary and praise.... and do it over and over again.
Alice is a different dog from the little girl I brought home and it's entirely due to the training I've been taking her to with Andrew and the visit from Jim. She's almost unrecognisable. Whereas for the first few months it was a constant battle to get her to do what I wanted, now she looks to me for direction for at least 50% of the time, and this can only get better. I think she's a happier dog as a result. She still has a strong character, but she's not the little monster she used to be. I'm so glad I persevered and decided to keep her. It's been a very interesting and rewarding learning curve and has enabled a lovely little girl to emerge.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Thursday, 22 May

There have been some interesting and positive things happening with Alice over the past weeks. I've been away so missed writing up before now.

A few weeks back I noticed that Alice was not chasing Daisy the way she used to. It's even got to the point now where Daisy can run as much as she likes and Alice just watches or ignores her. However, what she's now doing is chasing Comet. I'm not concerned about this because I know from the experience with Daisy, that if they don't want to be chased they won't run. So the fact that Comet runs means he is OK with being chased. Alice gets quite rough with him but he doesn't seem to be bothered. He keeps running until he's had enough and then comes to a halt near me and Alice joins him.

Their relationship is interesting. They are playing together much more than in the first 6 months that I had Alice. It always used to be Alice and Daisy play-fighting and Comet keeping out of it, but now it's much more Comet and Alice play-fighting and Daisy watching. Every evening Alice gets onto the sofa and Comet comes in and starts barking and lunging at her. Sometimes she just lays there but others she responds and jumps at him and they end up having a play-tussle. It seems like he's telling her that even though she's on the sofa and he's on the floor, he's the boss.

I've had some bad experiences over recent weeks with meeting dogs when Alice is on the lead, but also some which have been much less frenetic so I think there's some progress. Last weekend I decided I would let Alice be off the lead on the water meadows where I take them. There's usually other dogs over there so I've tried to keep away from them. But Alice is always fine with other dogs off the lead when we do the SLR walks so I thought I would see how she was. In fact it was a really good move because she was fine with all the dogs we met - and there were quite a lot of them. By the end of the walk she wasn't taking much notice when a new dog appeared and she was very good about coming back to me. This makes me wonder whether more exposure to dogs off the lead will help her handle seeing dogs on the lead. I'll try again this coming weekend and see.

Here's Alice and Comet snuggling up together.

Scours Lane, alongside the River Thames - where I take the dogs during the week. They did lots of crazy running but also were happy to trot along with me some of the time,