Words for Maizey: The Happiest Kind of Update.

I haven’t posted any words in so long it’s hard to know where to start. How ’bout with Maizey?

She’s doing fabulous. She’s as stable as she’s ever been and better in many ways. This comment from one of our Instagram pictures sums it up well, “She’s looking very lovely lately. You can tell from the softer expression she has. Calvin was the right move!” Thanks Misskodee, I am very proud of my girl, wether it has anything to do with Calvin or not, she’s certainly happier in general!

She’s still on 10 mg of Fluoxetine. We find her Thundershirt and Composure liquid very helpful. She takes Clonidine for the really bad days. Twice this month, but only once last month so that’s a huge improvement from last year at this time.

Biochemically I don’t know what the change is, other than time on the meds and our Real Life is significantly less stressful in many ways. Training wise we still work counterconditioning and desensitization to her triggers when I can pin them down. It’s extremely hard to desensitize to rain on the windows or wind, but we use the chicken rains from the sky method and it’s slowly helping. We haven’t worked on the dog reactivity at all. One change for the worse is she’s shown a slight in inclination to human reactivity at the park. We have used lots of mat work to condition safe spaces for her to retreat too all around the house. Her stroller is now a piece of furniture in our house. Not the most normal looking “chair” but it gives her a Calvin free zone and safe place that can go wherever I go. We minimize stimulation as much as possible on the bad days. Closing blinds and playing Through a Dogs Ear to cut down on the outside sounds that trigger her. Her recovery time is down to hours instead of days.

Writing it that way it may sound as if she’s deprived, but she’s really not. We have fun together at home, she plays with Calvin and Magnus now. She even asks to play with toys sometimes, though she doesn’t seem to know quite what to do with them. Silly goose! We train lots of tricks. She can be outside now without being over threshold. Even her recall from the front yard and off the neighbors pit bulls is about 90%! That’s something I am so proud of. She also shows some ability to leave the cat alone, which used to be a major trigger. I know she has more thinking brain than fearing brain when she can call off those hard triggers and recover quickly.

She doing so well I’m considering taking the next step to desensitize her to being at work. We finally have a trainer I feel understands us enough and that I trust enough to start working on some other issues. After a loooong talk (Thanks Jamie!) we decided she won’t be able to make progress in training the reactivity until I can manage my worry and anxiety of taking her to the training room with me. So our next step is as much about desensitizing ME.

I guess there’s no one biggest thing that has made a difference, but for me the thing that’s most helpful is having the knowledge and tools to help her when it does get hard. She’s always going to have hard days, but now we both have enough training to handle it and recover.

My main message to people with fearful dogs is this: It starts at home. You are your dogs protector, advocate, doctor and trainer. You MUST make their homes a safe, trigger free zone. If you can’t create an environment for their bodies to recover from stress they will never be able to desensitize to their fears. Don’t push them, be patient. Protect them, speak up for them! Don’t let people approach them, be willing to change your environment, close the blinds, play the music loud, don’t let them go out in a yard alone, do whatever it takes to help them have at least one safe space, even if it means being that crazy lady with the dog stroller. Don’t ask too much of them just to fulfill your needs or wants. The rewards are worth it! Your fearful dogs’ journey is a serious of small climbs and an occasional fall. Love them through it, don’t give up! but most of all protect them!

Next up: The Magnus update. Get ready for this. . . it’s been a scary, strange and miraculous few months!

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The Stroller Experimentation

The stroller experimentation continues. . .

Every once in a while you see your training pay off and so far this whole stroller thing seems to be that moment for Maizey and I. So far. I’m reserving total judgment until there’s more data, but I’m happy with what I’m seeing.

We’ve taken two good real walks with the stroller so far. Both times I saw just the reaction I thought I’d see at this point. Yesterday we headed out and as soon as I set up the stroller she hopped in. Good sign number one. I zipped the bonnet closed so I didn’t have to worry about her bailing out and she settled right in. She asked to get out a couple times and walked quite a bit, but when she started getting stressed and asked to be picked up I just offered her to get back in the stroller and she happily did that.

Today we walked farther than we have in weeks. She didn’t walk as much as yesterday since I was working with Magnus on how to walk on a nice loose leash next to the stroller. I want him to walk on the right so that’s a change as his default is my left side. He did wonderfully. He’s such an easy going boy and makes my life easy.

I’m very happy that she’s getting out and about with much lower stress in general. She has choices and she seems to sense that. There was so much less whining and barking. Her body language in general is more settled, slower, not as frantic. It’s like a little portable chill out spot that lets her decompress on the go. Her reaction after the walk is better too. Normally we’d have a while of pretty hyper zoomies after we got home, but both days she asked for her stroller to be set up as soon as we got in the house and then hopped in and took a nap.

I’m so relieved to have hope that she can get out more and have it not be so hard on both of us. The other day someone asked me what was stressful to her on a walk. I said, “Everything.” They said, “But what are her triggers?” I just laughed and said, “oh, the air.” Ha Ha Ha. People really don’t understand what it’s like to have a dog that isn’t just reactive, but has Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It’s called generalized, because the triggers start in the brain chemistry and the anxiety is caused by everything or nothing in the environment. So to have a safe space we can take anywhere is hugely relieving to both of us.

Did you see this post at Rollin’ With Rubi? It struck such a chord with me. In it she talks about how a trainer finally looked at her dog and saw the truth. He’s a dog full of fear and brave enough to work through it. She expresses how relieved she was to have someone finally see what she sees in her dog. Well, that was my take home message anyways. It’s a message I can well relate to. People look at Maizey and they see a “happy” “squirmy” “wiggling” little dog. They don’t know that’s not her normal self. That’s her out in the world anxious self and it doesn’t look that bad. It doesn’t look like a disorder.

In Home Depot the other day she was like that and when I picked her up she wanted to crawl into my face for reassurance. The lady I was chatting with said, “Oh she’s such a lover, what a snuggle bug.” Sure, except that’s not what’s making her do that. I’ve always said it would be easier to have a broken leg than an anxiety disorder. People don’t understand what they can’t see or haven’t experienced. If she had a bandage on people would get when I say you can’t pet her she’s sick.

I guess I didn’t even know that rant was in me today, but there it is. I guess that part matters to me because I’m really happy to have someplace that she can go to for safety. I’ve lost a bit of hope that she’ll ever live without fear and anxiety. I promise I’ll keep trying to find that for her, but in the mean time what I am able to do is provide whatever safety and reassurance I can. Isn’t that the best any of us can do for each other? We can’t fix it all, but we can sit in the space the other is in and keep them company. Acceptance and reassurance are the most we can offer sometimes. Giving Maizey a safe space to get out and enjoy the world in is the best I can do right now. I guess that’s today’s 4legged lesson: sit with each other in the space that you can’t change, even if that space is a doggy stroller.

Whew! I sure need to lighten up around her lately! Check back tomorrow for a rant free, silly Wordless Wednesday. Even I can’t make that serious!

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Loose Dogs Are NOT Maizey’s Friend

There really is nothing ambiguous about this sign:

Unfortunately it seems dreadfully difficult for anyone to follow that rule.

If I saw someone pick up their dog and start walking briskly away from me while loudly saying three times, “Get your dog! My dog’s not friendly!” I would not allow my off leash dog to chase after them.

I would not merely keep sauntering along while my Ridgeback looking mix ran towards the shrilly barking dog. Of course if my dog didn’t have a recall at all my dog wouldn’t be off leash in the first place.

Needless to say I was not happy tonight at the park when that happened to us. We’ve managed to get Maizey out quite a few times with out a run in like this, but today was just not going our way.

I know off leash dogs are something we all fight with, but when you have a pup with issues who is in “rehab” it’s even more frustrating. Of course right after we settled down from the big dog there was another lady running with an off leash Schnauzer that also clearly didn’t care that her dog was off leash. Both of these people were carrying their leashes! Umm. . . it doesn’t count if the leash is not attached to the dog! Thankfully the Schauzer kept it’s distance, but Maizey reacts at dogs that are very, very far away so that didn’t really help her.

It’s not like I enjoy hollering at people as they approach us in the park, but really! I mean this was a big dog with it’s hackles raised. It didn’t look mean, just aroused. It would be hard for any dog not to be aroused with the racket my Princess of the Shrill Bark raises. I felt like I was pretty mean, but my husband said I sounded like an “assertive dog trainer”. I thought that was pretty funny.

After the dogs were gone I was very thankful for the RP and LAT work we’ve done. These were the steps I took after the dogs were away from us:

I was carrying Maizey (the only way to get her away when she’s reacting). Magnus was on leash so I was telling him leave it and lets go. When I had a free hand and the dog was headed away from us I opened bar the treats to Maizey. I basically just threw a handful on the ground for Magnus to find and then just let Maizey start eating a handful out of my hand.

When she was not barking I started Look At That with her.

When she could LAT with our barking I put her down at which point she started reacting again so we went back to open bar.

My husband went and grabbed her mat and so I asked her to settle in RP mode. As she quieted down we started LAT with me on sitting with her on the ground. As she got calmer I stood up and went into RP stance. Then I basically combined a LAT with RP mode until she seemed calmer and the dogs were all out of the park. After that we went back to the area where the Ridgy mix had approached us and both dogs got very sniffy so I let them get their sniff in and we jollyed our way back to the car.

I don’t think it was the worst encounter we’ve had. We both accessed out skills pretty well and now I have some new ideas for some new skills we can use. Best of all she seems okay tonight. She’s been a little spooked tonight, but she’s sleeping in her crate with the door open now.

The difference in her since we started the Fluoxetine three months ago is amazing. She’s back to my happy girl who wants to meet everyone and she recovers faster and faster from triggers. I don’t regret putting her on Prozac, I only regret I didn’t do it sooner.

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Small Improvements After Three Weeks On Fluoxetine

“Where’s your other little dog?”

I hear this question all the time since I can’t take Maizey with me as much. Sometimes I think people think I just love Magnus more, which of course isn’t true. What they don’t understand is what it’s like to live with an anxious dog.

Well meaning people suggest Maizey just needs more exercise. They’re right, she does need more exercise, but it’s not as simple as people think. How do you exercise a dog that can’t get to end of the driveway without major stress and can’t get three houses away without reacting? It’s pretty difficult.

She’s always been a world class puller on the leash. One time someone asked me, “Why haven’t you taught her not to pull? I wanted to be like, “Train her not to pull?!? That never even occurred to me!” I restrained myself. If you’ve followed us for long you remember the hours of loose leash walking we did after her knee surgeries. Now I know she pulls as a result of being too stressed out. She can’t think and her brain and body are flooding with stress chemicals that drive her into overdrive. She actually has a beautiful loose leash walk when she can think.

What happened two nights ago illustrates another reason getting out and about is hard for an anxious Princessface. We ran to the corner to get a movie and I let both dogs hop in the car with us. Normally I’m the strict momma that never lets the dogs ride not in crates, but this was a rare occasion the crates weren’t set up so I held Maizey. She feels safest being held so I figured she’d be okay. We weren’t even gone ten minutes and I didn’t get out of the car. In ten minutes I saw lip licking, yawning, tense jaw, shaking, and overall tenseness in her body. I could feel her heart beating in her chest the whole time.

She had been very relaxed that day, not one bark all day, but after we got home? Ten minutes of barking. Barking at dogs outside, kids outside, Mehusbandy moving around in the other room, barking at I don’t even know what. She just can’t recover like she used to.

Our part time girl Chloe has major stress in the car. As soon as you hit the freeway she starts shaking, but as soon as you get out of the car she shakes it off and you can’t tell she was ever stressed. Maizey just doesn’t have this ability to recover. It could take her hours to lay down and sleep after a short episode of stress like tonight’s.

Until now. After three weeks on Prozac (Fluoxetine) I’m seeing a difference in her. It’s a welcome relief. One difference is her ability to recover. After ten minutes of barking she is now sleeping next to me on her relax mat. That’s a quick recovery for my girl.

Other differences are showing up too. She’s able to keep her brain in gear at things that would have sent her over threshold before. She never hated the vacuum, but in the last few months she would go crazy barking at the vacuum. I’ve had to crate her in another room to keep her calm.

"I don't even get mad at my brover when he tugs on my ears!"

Last week I vacuumed the whole house without one bark. We’ve continued counter-conditioning with the vacuum. When the vacuum comes out so do the treats and I toss them away from me so she has to do some hoovering of her own in the other room. Now she comes running for the fun vacuum game again.

She and Magnus haven’t been able to play hardly at all over the last three months since she would go over threshold, barking and barking at him within the first few seconds. Last week they played for over three minutes with not one bark!

I was really worried how she would handle this weekend and the yard sale. I knew I would be busy and moving things around tends to really set her off, but she did great! It wasn’t stress free. By Saturday afternoon she was pretty close to threshold, but while we had a bit of slow time at the yard sale, I let her come out and sit with me for a bit, then she just settled on the porch and hung out for about half an hour.

The front yard is another place I see improvement. It has been weeks since I could even let her out there. She would bolt out the front door straight to the front fence and bark, bark, bark. On Friday night while we were getting ready for the sale I put her on a long line, put her relax mat next to me and she chilled out quietly with us for over an hour. Twice she went to the fence and I just took the end of the long line and walked back to her mat and she came with me and laid down.

There are other differences too. She hasn’t retreated to the bathroom near as much, she initiated play with a toy all on her own, we even had fireworks again last week and she didn’t get as scared as usual.

We still have a long way to go and I’m going to talk to the vet tomorrow about raising her dosage a little. I’m happy her ability to recover is better, but I’d like to see her be able to get the point where a ten minute car ride was fun, not stressful. We’ll keep up with the training were doing and hope for more improvement. In the mean time I’m happy to see my happy girl feeling more like herself!

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What To Do With a Maizey Meltdown

Today I have used every skill I have and Maizey is still an anxious ball of nerves laying next to me.

We’ve been doing a minor remodeling project at our house. Yesterday and today I spent the day moving things around, cleaning out cupboards, gathering things up for a yard sale at the end of the month. Mehusbandy spent the day building a new shelving unit around my washer and drier. There’s been a lot of unusual activity, to say the least.

Add to that our part time puppies, Charley and Chloe, spent the night last night. There have been fireworks nearly every night, and the fireworks that are now legal here make it feel, as one lady in Magnus’ tricks class described it, “like you’re in a war zone.”

We put in a doggy door two weeks ago so they could stay home while we were gone during the day. Then last weekend was the one weekend out of the year I have to be gone about 12 hours a day, so log in another change. As if all that weren’t enough her eye allergies have been worse than normal.

In short things have not been normal around here, so I can understand why my Maizey’s stress level would be higher than normal.

What I don’t understand is what to do about it.

Let me tell you how she was today. Nervous doesn’t even begin to describe it. She was so stressed last night I let her sleep with us. Then this morning she seemed a bit better, played some games with me for breakfast, and even tried to play with the furry sumo’s for a bit. It went down hill when I started moving things around and Mehusbandy started drilling and sawing the shelves.

"I didn't feel too good today."

As soon as it got noisy she wouldn’t leave the room I was in. She started pacing, and wouldn’t lay down. Then she got to the point that she had to be touching me. Literally touching me all the time. It took two of us to get her Thundershirt on since everytime I set her down she literally threw herself at me to climb back into my arms. I never did get an accurate heart rate, but her heart was racing.

I ended up holding her, carrying her around, settling her next to me where ever I was. By this evening when I would put her down she would lay on my feet. If I moved my feet she moved to lay on them. The only place she would settle was on her mat and then only if it was within three feet of me.

Now, at 9:00 PM, she’s progressed to barking at every sound. I never like to say she’s barking at nothing, since a dog is always barking at something, even if we don’t know what it is. But this barking is at nothing that I can discern. She’s just pacing and won’t settle down at all.

So what skills have I used? All of them that I know.

Rescue remedy three times today. Calmshen, two pills morning and night. Thundershirt starting at 10:00 AM. I put her in her crate several times and she would lay there but not relax enough to even lay her head down.

We trained this morning and played training games throughout the day. Mehusbandy and I both tried to jolly her out of it, playing and talking happy, as if we could just tell her she didn’t need to be stressed. She didn’t believe us, but she likes us to be silly.

I tried bully’s and stuffed Kongs as a distraction, but that only helped for a few minutes. Mat work provided a place she would lay down, but again only for short periods of time. Finally tonight when the fireworks started I resorted to stuffing a Kong with homemade chicken liver treats and Squeezy Cheese, putting her in her crate and covering her with a huge quilt. She’s not happy, but she’s at least quiet and still.

Although at this point I feel fairly stressed about her, throughout the day I was really calm, and I don’t think I transmitted stress to her. Still, other than short periods of relief, the only time I really saw her relax today was when I was holding her.

At this point I’m really not sure what to do. I can understand why she would be so anxious with everything we have going on, but I don’t know what else to do for her. It’s days like this that make me consider trying Prozac or Xanax.

I never wanted to medicate her, but it seems nothing is helping enough. Counterconditioning, Relaxation Protocol, classes, herbs, flower essences, TTouch (which she doesn’t like), calming music (which never helped), Thundershirt, exercise (which she doesn’t get enough of since it’s so hard to take her places without it being terribly stressful). All of it helps some, but none of it is making a big enough difference.

My dream is that she can live a normal life with us. I read story’s like Crystal and her Maisys’, and  Roxanne and Lillys’.  Both of whom have have found some relief for their fearful pups in the form of medication along with all of the other hard work they put in with them to help them be happy. Even our class instructor has a dog on prozac and I know she’s able to take him places and do fun things with him.

It’s not like I think it’s a solve all to my girls’ problems. I know we have lots of hard work ahead of us, but I have to wonder at what point do I say this is beyond our ability to work out on our own? When is it time to take some more drastic steps?

I don’t know why I have such a resistance to medicating her. I guess my resistance is waning in the face of her mounting stress and anxiety. I guess I can’t be in denial about it anymore, saying I left her home since Magnus needs some one and one training, or “this is just not a good day for her.” The problem is there are too many “not good” days for her lately.

So what am I going to do?

I’m not sure, but I’m open to suggestions. Medication is certainly one option I can’t count out. For those of you that have gone that route, what made you decide that was the right choice? Do you use a vet to prescribe it or can a behaviorist do that? What are the side effects that you have seen?

I’m sure there are other options out there, so if you have any ideas lay it on me. I need some fresh ideas!

In the mean time I hope we get a good nights rest and wake up feeling fresh and new tomorrow. And if not? Well, I don’t really mind puppy hugs, so if worst came to worst I can just hold her all day again. . .

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New Training Levels Books Shift The Earth Under My Feet

Recently on the Training Levels yahoo Group Sue Ailsby said, “When the earth shifts under your feet, you have only a few choices. You can run, you can attack, you can freeze, or you can start hysterically, rabidly, desperately learning. It’s exciting, isn’t it?!”

Ever since I got my new Training Levels books I’ve been in the “rabidly, desperately learning” phase. The books are even better than I expected, and I have to say I had high expectations!

I had one those earth shifting under my feet moments when I read one of Sue’s “Very Important Ideas”. She says, “You can’t teach a negative.” Sue then explains it doesn’t help you or the dog when all you can think about is how to get the dog to STOP doing a behavior you don’t want.

The ground started trembling. . . “Don’t think of what you want to stop???. . . Hmmm . . .”

I keep reading. . . Sue points out three questions to ask when your dog chooses to do something you don’t want them to:

  • “What do I Want the dog to do in this situation?”
  • “How do I stop her from being rewarded for the bad thing?”
  • “How do I reward her for doing the good thing?”

The earth is shifting at this point. . .

I think, “This is positive training, if I think only in negatives how am I supposed to teach my dogs anything with positive methods?”

After sleeping on the idea, today it all came together for me.

We are hanging out with a friends dogs, and helping out with their boarding kennel this week. The house is across the driveway from the kennel field and when our dogs go out they can see the kennel dogs in their field. This is always a challenging situation for Maizey.

We have done enough work here that the reactivity to the kennel dogs is minor. This trip she has done even better, and I would qualify her barking as much less reactive and more just letting me know there are dogs there. In my head the question was always, “How do I get her to stop barking at the kennel dogs?”

Here is where the earth shifting came into play. With Sue’s wise words, “you can’t teach a negative” in mind, today I stopped thinking how to get her to stop barking and started asking, “What do I want her to do instead?”

I want her to be relaxed and quiet in the yard. I want her to know it’s okay to let me know the dogs are there, but I have it handled, she doesn’t need to bark more than three or four times. Ultimately I would like her to be able to go out, feel confident enough to not bark at them at all. (The criteria for now is three or four times because I know asking her to not bark at all is beyond her ability at this point. Her barking to let me know they’re there works with other training we’ve been doing for reactivity.)

What I came up with was to let her out of her fence and let her meet the kennel dogs through their fence, with high reinforcement for quiet, calm meetings. She doesn’t bark at dogs she knows, only “strange” dogs. She greeted the kennel dogs when we got here, but sometimes when she goes out they’re there and sometimes they’re inside, so to her each time she goes out they are “new.”

Then I wondered what would happen if I went in the field and talked to her while I was with the kennel dogs. A novel idea, one I had no idea if it would make a difference to her, so I went out with the kennel dogs, she started barking and I said, “Hey Maizeymay, whatchta tellin me?”

A bunch of words that weren’t cues, just my happy confident voice saying “what’s up?” It was so funny! She perks up, looks around and then runs to the door looking for me. I say, “Hey girlie, I’m over here.” Once she found me I told her what a good girl she was and went about my business. She hasn’t barked at the kennel dogs again!

I don’t know that this is a permanent solution, I don’t know that it wasnt all coincidence, I don’t know that she learned anything. What I do know is my thinking has shifted and I’ve learned something!

Another example: She gets her detox in a spoon full of yogurt or something yummy. With six other dogs around it takes more management to get her in a space where she can eat with out being interrupted by curious mouths. Instead of thinking how can I get these dogs to stop bugging her when she takes her detox I started thinking, “What do I want it to be like when I give her this medicine?”

The answer? I just need a little space and the other dogs to wait their turn for a treat.

The solution? Have Maizey hop on a kitchen chair and sit while the other dogs practice some treat zen and wait their turn. Then give each one a treat and wallaah! We have a simple, peaceful way for Maizey to get her meds and all the dogs get to practice a little self control. We’re all happy!

Short story long I’m loving my Training Levels books. If you haven’t ordered yours yet I highly recommend it. They are an invaluable tool for any one with a 4legged friend!.

Now, I’m off for more rabid Training Levels learning!

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What’s Wrong With Thinking?

Does your dog think? To some it may seem their dogs only think of how to get in trouble!

I keep jokingly saying of Magnus, “Why did I teach this dog to think?”

He is not afraid to try anything! He is on top of, under, over, inside, outside, around and all over everything. Apparently teaching him he doesn’t have to be afraid and is capable of anything really just taught him there is nothing off limits to him.

Kitchen table? “What Crazymomlady? I figured out how to get up here, why shouldn’t I do it?”

Bathtub? “Oh you don’t want me to get in the shower while you’re in there? Why not?”

Under the couch? “What do you mean I don’t fit under there anymore? I can just dig a hole in the floor and then I’ll fit!”

You get the idea. This boy has decided he has a brain and he knows how to use it. Well, at least he’s learning how to use it. I hope.

I may find it trying to keep up with this little guy, but most of the time I just love to watch him figure things out. I know he can learn what’s a good choice and what isn’t, we are just in the period of his life where he’s figuring it all out. We’re in the, “manage what I don’t want while he learns to choose what I do want” phase.

It’s actually my favorite thing about clicker training. Every time you mark a behavior you teach a dog what behavior is beneficial for him. You teach him to think, to be discerning and make a choice.

While this is one of my favorite things about positive reinforcement, I know it’s the least favorite thing of more traditional trainers. Today I was looking at a site for a dog training school and the criticism was made that clicker trainers leave the dog to figure things out for themselves, creating stress for the dog.

So thinking is a bad thing?

I don’t get it! This statement was made in the context of using a shock collar to “explain” to the dog that he had no choice.

Now I don’t want to get into a big debate about shock collars. I don’t choose to use that method on my dogs and wouldn’t suggest it for someone else, but while we’re on the subject of choice, I respect that is their choice.

But this statement really bothers me. I mean what’s wrong with thinking anymore?

For me teaching my dogs to make choices that makes them peaceful, productive members of a predominantly human community is inspiring. It’s exciting and joyful. It’s fun and thrilling.

For me to force my dog to make the choice I want, especially by methods that cause pain, is taking choice out of the matter completely. Obey me or be caused pain, is not a choice.

So I ask again, “What’s wrong with thinking?”

I’m afraid as a society we are becoming too non-thinking. We see examples of it everyday and I’ve probably been guilty of it myself, the attitude of “my way or the highway.” I might have what’s the best way for me, but it doesn’t mean it’s the best way for my neighbor, my friends, the stranger reading this, or even for my dogs.

Maizey has been instrumental in teaching me this. My “way” of training was not good for her. I started out using methods I was familiar with at that time and looking back I used some methods I would not use again. She clearly let me know, “This doesn’t work for me. This is not the inforamtion I need to know how to chose what you want.” She let me know it, by never choosing the choice I was trying to explain to her. She showed me I had to look elsewhere, learn more, and most of all think more.

She keeps showing me an amazing ability to figure out how to choose what I feel is a better choice, she shows me a willingness to choose that when it’s in her ability to do so. She shows me she knows how to think, and it’s not stressful for her.

Today brought me a new 4legged lesson:

A thinking dog is a beautiful thing. When my pups use their brains to make choices that benefit our community, that too it’s a beautiful thing. When they make choices that aren’t beneficial I know I need to give them more information to be able to make a better choice.

Sue Ailsby says her training philosophy is, “A philosophy which asks that I do no harm. That I listen to the trainee and respect her opinions. I discovered that listening, respecting, and doing no harm is an AMAZING training philosophy, and an even better training method. When you listen to a dog, the dog listens back!”

I agree and subscribe to that philosophy whole heartedly. It’s my determination to listen to my dogs, give them the information they need to make beneficial choices, to “do no harm”, and always enjoy my thinking 4legged friends!

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