Being Bothered

So much depends upon repetition, doesn’t it .

The re-homed dog I went to the other day is very aroused by countless new sounds and sights. For six months she has been in a very different environment surrounded by noisy dogs but little variety or enrichment.

Rodger2What is the fastest way for her to become to acclimatised?

It has to be standing around on a long lead by the open front door (so she can run back in if she wants to) taking in the new sounds, sights and smells.

Many short sessions, stopping before it gets too much for her. Pairing people, dogs, birds, traffic, noises and incidents with food.

If they do this several times a day for three or four weeks without pushing her out of her comfort zone I’m sure she will become acclimatised to her new environment.

Can they be bothered?

I believe these particular people can.

A young dog I saw the other day pulled on lead. I showed them ‘loose-lead walking’. It now needs lots of rewarding short sessions in an environment without too many distractions.

Meanwhile, they shouldn’t go for their ‘normal’ preoccupied walks that encourage forward progress with the dog rehearsing pulling. They shouldn’t be on their phones or walking with friends. The dog needs their full attention for days if not weeks.

Can they be bothered?

I believe these particular people can.

Many dogs won’t reliably come when called. The word ‘Come’ will have been ignored, devalued, optional, so maybe we will use a whistle.

The person whistling needs to be relevant and the result of coming worthwhile, but for recall to be totally bomb-proof, other-dog-proof, rabbit-proof, sheep-proof, child-on-skateboard-proof….it needs to be automatic.

Lots of repetition!th

This could mean a thousand successful and rewarding recalls around the house, in from the garden, whistling when the dog is coming anyway to charge up that ‘battery’, over and over until coming when whistled is as automatic to the dog as ducking is involuntary to us.

I may call my next dog Pavlov!

Tired of the bedlam from my dogs whenever the front doorbell rang (they can’t get to the door), I bought two cheap identical radio doorbells. One button went outside the door, the other in the kitchen.

Every time I went near the front door I opened it and rang the bell. I would repeatedly press the bell button in the kitchen. I would carry it about and press it. Bing Bong on and off day and evening!

It took about ten days for my dogs to ignore the doorbell altogether – to the extent that if there was a real noise to react to like the neighbour’s weekly wheelie bin, one ring of the bell settled them.

I have suggested this to several clients, but sadly not one of them yet has been sufficiently bothered to persist either for long enough or with a sufficient number of repetitions to immunise their dogs to the doorbell.

The patient work needs topping up from time to time. It doesn’t necessarily last for ever. The dog can revert to the old ‘status quo’.

So, I need a day or two of doorbell-ringing every few weeks. Similarly, the re-homed dog may need ‘environment’ sessions now and then and the puller may need going ‘back to basics’ sessions now and then. The reluctant-recaller will need the ‘whistle battery topping up’ from time to time.

It’s just about ‘being bothered’ – and stickability. That’s all.

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About Theo Stewart

I am a dog Behaviourist (INTODogs-ABTC - AAB) and trainer covering Beds, Herts, Cambs and Bucks, a 'Victoria Stilwell' Positively Dog Trainer (VSPDT) and a member of the IMDT. Graduate ISCP, International School for Canine Practitioners. My main site: www.dogidog.co.uk
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