It was good to catch up with this wee lad after his holiday with his family in Yorkshire last week. When his mum contacted me a few months ago she had a dream that she would be able to take him away on a family holiday, but at the time it seemed a bit like a far-off fantasy. At the time he was barking at any sounds he heard outside in the house. He lunged and barked at people in the street and she didn't dare take him anywhere near other dogs because he unleashed a frenzy of barking at them.
But they did it! Teddie went on a lovely, calm and relaxed holiday with the rest of the family and their three other dogs. They stayed in a quiet, dog-friendly cottage and made sure that they balanced days out with plenty of time mooching about in the cottage and garden.
Teddie had a great time on local beaches and even made it to Whitby Abbey (no sitings of vampires were reported ... He wouldn't have barked, even if he'd seen one!) He managed to cope with going into Whitby town, and then had some down-time the next day so that he wasn't over-stretched with doing too much.
His mum's careful management of what Teddie can cope with, gradually putting him in situations that he can manage as his confidence has grown, has resulted in a calmer, happier boy.
We've spent many sessions slowly working him with my Buddy-dogs and he's been able to get closer and closer to them. This week he finally managed to go nose-to-nose with Moth. If you nip over to my Facebook page you can see a lovely clip of the two boys meeting. It took place over a half-hour session and we were very careful to take things really slowly.
Teddie was a bit intensive when he first sniffed, which can often happen with troubled dogs. Because they are so reactive with dogs, they get very little chance to learn how to communicate politely with them and can seem a bit 'pushy' when they go-in for that first sniff. Most dogs find that kind of pushiness intrusive, and this is when conflict can happen. Which doesn't help when you have a nervous dog, because their over-inquisitive sniffing can result in a bit of a snarl or a snip from the other dog.
Reactive dogs need to learn how to approach other dogs calmly and politely, and Teddie's mum did a great job of handling him. I stepped back when I saw that Teddie had lost some of his self-control, and his mum mirrored me. Teddie did what we've spent months teaching him to do: he turned away from Moth instantly and looked for eye-contact with his mum. And got a whole lot of Feel Good Click-treats!
We let the boys have a little distance from each other, then let them meet again. We will try this a few times, with short, carefully managed sniffs until Teddie learns that he needs to approach other dogs calmly. It was a lovely session - after months of hard work from Teddie's mum. She manages him beautifully, and shows real understanding of his needs.