'Not only is punishment risky, but it also fails to teach the dog an acceptable alternate behaviour. The dog does not learn what to do the next time he is in the same situation. He only learns to fear the situation.' Emma Parsons, Click to Calm p73

Friday, 20 May 2011

Reactive Girls.

Lola had a mini-meltdown today.

She wasn't walked yesterday or the day before, because I was out drinking with friends on Tuesday and was incredibly hungover on Wednesday: and it showed today. Within a couple of minutes of us leaving the house, on the five or six minute journey from our home to the park, Lola forgot all her 'don't bark at me when I'm holding your ball' training, and barked and lunged at a man who bent to stroke her whilst she was watching me/the ball (she was amped up and excited, and he moved too fast out of the corner of her eye - as a terrier, Lola meets "threats" with reactive displays).

We got to the park, and everything was fine, except Jess being a silly idiot (posturing and glaring at other dogs), until a beagle pup came flying out of nowhere. Jess freaked out completely, snarling and lunging and twisting to try and bite it; she hasn't had such a display in over six months - she's gotten a lot better than she was, and can usually control herself. The beagle's owners were useless, just shouting after it and strolling in our direction, as Lola, amped up by the fact that I'd only just picked her ball up, that the beagle had slammed into her when she was staring at me, and by Jess' huge display, snarled and snapped and chased the other dog away.

Thankfully, once my brain kicked in and I shouted at her to 'leave it', she left the beagle and came back to me, and I was able to walk quickly away, leaving the owners to fumble for their dog. It was incredibly frustrating and embarrassing - my dogs were making nuisances of themselves, and since I was fumbling with Jess' lead, Lola's ball and ball launcher and my bag, it was hard to try and get away whilst the other dog kept on chasing us.

Despite today though (and I know it will set us back; an episode always does), Lola's reactivity is coming on in leaps and bounds. She's gone from barking at strangers several times each walk to once in nearly a fortnight; she still has issues barking (and sometimes nipping) at other dogs, but we mostly manage that whilst I work on her problems with strange people, by avoiding other dogs when she's on-lead. I'm not too bothered by her freak out at the beagle, since the dog did hit several of her triggers (coming 'out of nowhere'; running into her; distracting her from her ball when she was still in the fetch mindset; being overly obnoxious and insistent; and running away when Lola snapped, thus egging her on to chase and snarl more). Having Jess there only made the situation worse, since Lola was "backed up" by Jessie's aggressive displays, and since I couldn't quite get a grip on what was happening and just carried on walking away as quickly as I could, dragging Jess with me.

Hopefully today hasn't set us back too much!


Sara said...

We all have our bad days. I'm sure you won't have too much of a setback.

I'm finding that a lot fo Oreo's reactivity to my neighbor's kids was influenced by Misty. Now that she's not here barking her head off at them, Oreo has made so much progress.

Ricky the Sheltie said...

I agree that we all have these bad days and you guys will recover and move forward. Now that school is over (it is, right?) you will have lots of time for training and walks, etc. Try not to worry too much.