Bad first time blogger for going underground after one post!
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s celebrate some well earned success, such as Xmas.
Any owner of a reactive dog will tell you that uneventful is a wonderful thing. We don’t need amazing meet and greets, just an uneventful walk or two. This was our 2018 finale. It was quite possibly the hardest and most frustrating years of my life with Luke, let me recap what you missed if you weren’t my Facebook friend.
In 2018 Luke’s fear reaction had hit a new high after several bad attacks in mid-late 2017. I started the year with a dog that growled at people, dogs and rocks yes, rocks! He trusted nothing and no one. I was taking him to a park up the road between 9 and 10 pm (I get up for work at 5 am) because we could not risk any interaction in the dark. Even at that time we had interruptions. Sometimes we drove to every park looking for just one empty place. In April I happened across a reactive dog pack walk, free with a trainer. Luke got another training device and I learned to use it.
Enter the pinch. At first he obeyed, then he cleverly figured out how to exploit that, why not, he was getting an unintended correction every time he behaved and tried to avoid a correction. I felt bad, he felt bad, but he really tried and so did I. Out of the blue one Sunday in the early summer he pissed on my leg. I have never been so disheartened and I felt like finally giving up and giving him up. Instead we started Agility. He liked that. Loved it even, as fall came agility became non-existent because of conflicting schedules. Back to walks and dodging in parks and fighting with other people to give us space and 5 minutes. We still do the weekly pack walks but since October I have been staggering them.
I started looking into training again and training videos and gear and I found my tactical savior, first the vest from OneTigris, then the collar from Excellent Elite Spanker and finally the tactical bungee leash (I forget the make it was cheap but awesome!) After rolling in his gear twice in shit*, seriously, and washing him and his gear twice, I also am decked out in tactical gear. I carry, he behaves.
*side note – Pick up after your dogs people, it’s honestly not hard to do, even in the dark!
Back to it, tactical. I carry the pouches, Luke and I match, he is feeling better about his gear snapping on now that I am also snapping on gear and he is beginning to enjoy leash walks. We have treats, bags, lights, a canteen and bowl and our expensive Logan Herding Whistle. We are modifying gear for ease and working on whistle recall. He has learned that when I say “On me!” He is to be on my right side. Good job Luke!
This Christmas he had daylight off leash in a quiet field with our other dog, when I blew my whistle and called him he came back. Thank you hours of ball, whistle and endless pouch of lamb lung! We are having fun finally.
He is still reactive but last night he was close, one hand on the bungee and one hand on the low handle. He could have gone nuts last night on our walk at least 5 times but instead he felt I had control, he was “on me” with eye contact and we moved on with a reward for maintaining contact and not reacting.
Uneventful, yes. We don’t always get ball time but we are having a good time. There are still reactions. The fear is there, but we are enjoying some small success and that is all I can ask for right now.
Happy New Year Luke, 2019 will be a lot of work, but you are worth it.