BONNIE THE SALUKI
Bonnie is our most recent dog working through our Thinking-dog Online Distance Programme for owners and dogs who live beyond Lincolnshire. She was adopted two months ago by one of our students studying for her diploma in Dog Behaviour and Welfare (Canine Behaviour College) and her new owners had already done some good work helping her adapt to her new home. She had become increasingly confident and was learning to trust her new family, but they were starting to come across some issues that are typical of a Saluki x breed. She was an ex-coursing dog, which meant that her prey-drive was very strong and she was finding it difficult to connect with her family on walks.
Whenever she went out into the garden she was scanning for squirrels and cats and her prey-drive was so high that she couldn’t calm down enough to come back inside without fizzing over. She could be challenging on walks because she is big and very fast and was likely to lunge after any cats that appeared.
LOVING THE LOVE!
Her behaviour in the house was generally good, as long as she was getting all the attention she thought she needed! If her new family were busy, or trying to quietly watch the TV, she would often ratchet everything up a notch or two. This meant bouncing about and throwing in a few yips and whines (as well as toys in faces!) This seemed quite entertaining when she first came to live in her new home, but after a while it became more demanding.
When you have a fizzy, vocal dog like this, it can feel difficult to help them calm down, but Bonnie’s owners are both patient and have developed some strong marker-training skills. They have also learned to be as persistent as their dog! We have been working together for about four weeks now, and Bonnie has made some lovely progress. This is what her mum said to me last week:
'She is doing really well, much calmer, sleeps more and is less clingy. We did Connection in the driveway this morning.. Another dog went past and a builder arrived so she struggled to regain self control and......... She decided we should go back inside through the front door as it was all too much for her.'
FROM REACTING DOG TO THINKING-DOG
These are the kind of decisions that we're looking for: being able to make those choices turns a dog from a reacting dog to a Thinking-dog. Bonnie is fizzy, rather than reactive, but she can get herself in a bit of a flurry over things. Choosing to go back inside to calm herself down, rather than whining and lunging is a big pawstep forward for her. As soon as one of our dogs chooses to move away from triggers, we can see that they're making solid progress
CLICK FOR CONNECTION
We started off by her mum click-treating her for choosing to connect with her as she walked around the garden off her lead, progressing to the footage that you can see on my Facebook training page where she is on-lead.
The way that we achieve this level of connection is by teaching a dog to love being calm and by starting each training session and walk from a state of calmness. The first video is of Bonnie leaving the house calmly, followed by some lovely Connected Loose Lead walking.
Adding these training sessions to some calming strategies at home, which includes plenty of mental-enrichment activity, has resulted in a much more settled Bonnie who has reduced her attention-seeking behaviour in a relatively short time. She is really starting to turn from a Reacting-dog into a Thinking-dog, which is quite a challenge for a lurcher! Her owners are both very calm with her and are taking things very slowly because they recognise that slow and steady is the best way for her. She’s making nice and steady progress, which leads to deep, life-long learning. Tiny paw steps every day! She's a beautiful, funny and clever dog and it's been a joy working with her and her family from afar.
SIGNING UP TO THINKING-DOG
If you would like further details and help working with your dog on our online Thinking-dog Distance Programme (offering Skype sessions, telephone and email support with a full Behaviour Modification Programme) please contact me on 07908427031 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. While I can give support for dogs who have moderate issues on our online programme, dogs who are highly reactive to people and dogs would need 1-1 input from a professional, positive-training Canine Behaviour expert who lives in your area.