Month: November 2013

Worrying about Salma

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Salma’s behavior has been worrying me for some time now. She started to be more aggressive towards other dogs. And by aggressive I mean that she stares intently at other dogs, and approaches some dogs with her tail very high combined with tense body. I don’t like it, not even a bit.
She went through a lot of different phases when it comes to communicating with other dogs. She was terrified of all dogs as a puppy, she was crazy drown to dogs after that (that’s how I interpreted at the moment but thinking about it now it was just a coping strategy because I didn’t give her enough support), then she became very sweet. Confident but not pushy. She loved puppies and respected fearful dogs but would let other dogs push her around. Now I think she is behaving to aggressive in certain situations. Some dogs hide behind their owners when she looks at them. She started stopping and staring at dogs while she is on the leash. For me it is a huge red light, a sign of something worse to come (if we dont do anything). Yesterday she was pulling me towards a Swiss shepherd. We were leaving Vondel Park and the other dog was running after a ball. And Salma just started pulling in his direction. I was very surprised because normally she Di ignore other dogs while being on the leash.
Now I’m trying to understand why this changed happened. Is it caused by the unpleasant experiences she had few months ago? (in one week we were attacked twice. Nothing happened but it wasn’t nice). Is she changing because of Chili? Is it caused by not enough off leash contact with other dogs?
This worries me greatly.
After yesterday I decided to avoid her meeting dogs while she is on the leash. I would already do it but I wasn’t always strict. Now I really want to avoid those situations at any cost. I’m thinking that maybe she needs to learn again that she can be safe on the leash, and it’s my job to convince her.
Oh man if I could know right now exactly why this change happened.



Chili’s second class: Chili displacing dogs

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We had a second class with Chili yesterday. I was waiting for it the whole day, I so enjoy training with her.
Another dog joined the group so we were split in two smaller groups (very wise). Unfortunately two dogs that have a problem (fearful aggression) with other dogs were in our group. One is a small terrier mix female. Chili was not paying much attention to her until she barked at us. Chili didnt react at first but when we were standing between exercises Chili suddenly got up and tried to walk to the other dog. I called her back and ask to focus on me. The second dog is bit more of a problem because in his case it’s the owner who makes everything worse. Dog is a young mix, fearful and edgy. He doesn’t have good bond with his owner and she does everything to keep it that way, blaming the dog for anything that goes wrong. He did jump at other dogs last week so I wanted to avoid him from the beginning. We were in a situation when me and Chili were supposed to pass by the other dog while walking( he was also supposed to be walking towards us). I made a big distance between us and the owner of the other dog commented that with distance like that there is no challenge. Well for her dog being in a class settings is a challenge, being dragged on a collar close to other dogs and having his owner get angry at him when he tries to cope the only way he can is a betrayal of trust (which his owner doesn’t have to begin with). This dog was not ready to pass by other dogs. And I won’t put Chili in a situation that she isn’t ready for either. I cannot trust the other owner to control her dog because I saw her fail too many times. When training I’m always focused on my dog and my environment so I can react on time. Chili is brilliant in the class. Learning very fast but what I really want her to learn is to trust me more. What happened later was a bit my fault. I left Chili in a sit position and walked (not to close) in the direction of that dog. That was the exercise but I should be more strict and chose different direction. When I got to far (it was two meters no more but too far for her) Chili got up and run to that dog. I was imidiatelly behind her but when she got to him she tried to displace him with bows (legs spread so it wasn’t a play bow). I can bet the other owner thought she wanted to play. But she was very clear in her intentions. She didn’t like him and she wanted him to move. But at the same time she was not overly aggressive and when I took her away she was fine. Interestingly enough she didn’t react in any way to other dogs just those two. We did the same exercise when I walked in a direction of other dogs, i got even further away from her and she didn’t move.I think it’s fascinating that she picked dogs that have problems with other dogs. For the rest class went great it is so easy to work with her because she is really motivated.
Jochem also started his course with Salma and he likes it so much he bought his own clicker and already is planning to take her to many more courses. It is freaking wonderful to have a boyfriend that loves our dogs as much as I do.


Chili goes to school

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It seems that we finally have a good dog school in our neighborhood so we decided to check it out and sign our girls for courses. Of course before making any decisions we went to see a class at this school. I wanted to see how they train and how is the atmosphere. Of course I would have few comments (such as allowing puppies to hang on collars in order to reach other puppies but it’s easy to see it while watching from a side) but overall I was very happy with what I saw and a conversation with the owner of the school made me even more confident. We immediately signed up Salma for recall class which starts this Saturday. With Chili decision was a bit more complicated as she never went to actual obedience course but she knows few commands. As it happens they are pretty much exactly what dogs are taught in the basic course. On the other hand trainer (and we) wanted to see if she will be able to work in a presence of other dogs.
We went for a try out class last week. She was definitely very excited and there were few moments when she payed more attention to the environment that to me and Jochem (for her it is very unusual for Salma it was standard behavior when we started training). First we were asked to show if she can heel, and do it using a clicker. I was a bit clumsy as it has been long since I was teaching something with a clicker. Chili was jumping at me and biting her leash every time she didn’t understand what I want from her. On the other hand she was awesome with the trainer. She aced sit and stay and lay down and stay. We got a green light to go for a more advanced class: obedience 1. I’m confident Chili has skills to learn pretty much anything that is physically possible for her as long as there is food involved. But at the same time I am a bit concerned about her emotions. I will have to watch her carefully during our classes to see if it’s not too much for her. She was also jumping at the trainers when we were talking as she never jumps at strangers I’m even more inclined to put it down on stress.


Weekend Away

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I’m really fascinated by how different our dogs are when it comes to their personality and temperament. This weekend I had many possibilities to observe those differences.
For example when we were getting ready to leave for our long weekend away Salma was going crazy. She was crying and continuously walking in circles, eventually I had to lock her in her crate because she was stressing out Chili. Jochem was taking our stuff to the car and Salma would not stop wining. I asked him to take her to the car first because I knew she will pull like a devil and be all over the place. As soon as they left Chili laid down next to me and just waited, something Salma could never do in this situation.
On the other hand as soon as we started driving Salma went to sleep and Chili started to salivate and ended up vomiting twice. She gets very nervous in a car. As soon as we buy our own car w will start to get her used to it step by step.
Once we arrived at our destination and unpacked Salma started walking around and crying again. We brought their beds and gave them something to chew to relax her.
On the walks Chili was behaving pretty much as usual, Salma on the other hand was all over the place looking for rabbits (we were in a forest area). I think we need to find her a job to do because she has strong drives and I think she just needs to have a better outlet for them.
Our trip back was difficult for Chili again and when we got home she didn’t want to go far away from the house, also the next morning. Sometimes I forget how sensitive she is. In Italy she was scared of everything including people for the first two days, she would refuse to go far from the place where we stayed. After those two days she was her happy self again but I know that Salma was never afraid of a new place.

The rest of the weekend was wonderful. We mostly read books and chilled on the couch. Dogs were very happy to sleep in bed with us (Chili was sleeping on me most of the time).