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.

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