Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Important issues

I was listening to radio four this morning waiting for my favourite programme( apart from The Archers, I dare you to mock!) 'Our history in a thousand objects' when a lady was explaining how she hadn't been taught physiological security. Now I felt she had struck gold, whereas in childhood she had been given all her physical needs yet she hadn't been taught how to cope when life threw problems in her path.

Now I often see this in dogs, as you know cos I am always banging on about it. So I though I would blog about blind dog training and police horse training.

When you train a horse you have to get them used to( desensitise them) not only a rider on their backs but traffic, plastic bags, silage bales wrapped in plastic and all manner of scary objects....horses are prey animals so if in doubt they run. Now obviously even if you aren't horsey you can see why this is a seriously dangerous behaviour, did you know it can take years to get a horse to be safe in traffic?

Then we have Guide dogs for the blind, we all know they go out with puppy walkers, learnt to cope in all situations. They clearly do this as later in life somebodies life will literally be in their hands( or paws).

So this is obviously very relevant for me with Flute but even more relevant with older dogs who start to react and panic with new experiences. Inevitably this then means the owners restrict where they take their dogs as they don't want them distressed and then a dangerous cycles starts where the dog world is made more restrictive and less stimulating and they are able to cope with less and less.

So what can you do?

Desensitisation! If they are scared of bags start rattling a bag near food time, then once they recognise this as a precursor to food then start using the bag in different situations, groom you dog with the bag, this is a huge subject and I have limited time so I just want to see how these things occur and to understand that avoiding those scary objects that it actually escalates the problem....soon you dog will be scared of innocuous objects just because he hadn't got physiological strategies or security to cope with it.

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