Thursday, 8 November 2012

Surprising results

Today Rez the Viszla pup and Elvis the black lump of a lab had words.

It doesn't happen as often as you expect, you deal with multiple dogs from different home with different rules even within that household and you are bound to come across glitches.  Often it is just down to dogs being dogs taking advantage, gambling on the off chance this one time they might just get away with things.  Or maybe I am feeling just a little out of control and the dogs feel it.

Today was about old habits dying hard and sheer puppiness.

Rez is a blimp of a pup absorbing all that goes around him and boy is he confident!  He things life is for the taking, dogs are wonderful play machines and that he is only whole if he is by you, near you on you!  He has also found his voice and armed and dangerous  he shouts, he complains and throws himself around when he isn't by you, near you or on you, or indeed the dogs or the excitement.  He also things an open cage is an open invitation now that is hardly surprising he has to be taught in order to understand the rules lets face it how can you understand you have broken the rules if you didn't know the rules in the first place.

So I open the cage and a flying red wrinkle ends up on my head or even my shoulder and head.  It wags furiously those wrinkles jiggling about whilst the sharp little teeth find skin.  I put him back in and he grumps, he barks and he pushes his buddies aside.  He is bred to be determined, capable of thought and he is and back and forth he goes from head back into cage back on head into cage.  Then he starts barking when put back in cage so we had a discussion on manners.  Oh how he hates discussions.  Hold his collar ( our discussion) and say my no word and he tries the crocodile roll, the chomp the scratch and all the things that show he has no inhibition, no frustration control.  He is here now, wants, needs and emotions.

It tiring always looking for that perfect timing, that moment in time often brief to say 'Yeh you got it!' but tiring or not that is what we do.  And being smart he gets it.  He waits for the briefest moment and gets all he needs to be by you, near you and on you!

Elvis is a brute.  He may only have come out with us a couple of weeks but he gets Petnanny. He gets the play, the mixing and even the rules that he has been shown.  What he doesn't get is the need to do it via the van.  He doesn't like the van, or cars, or any moving object.  It makes him fret, makes him anxious hot and long for the moment of freedom.  Only not only does he get freedom he also gets the play, new friends and the bliss of his time being a dog.  So he wants it even more now.

He whines, barks, cries longing for the moment the doors open and he can fly.  I learnt today he can just about keep a lid on his feelings if the van isn't moving, even if the engine is running but as soon as we move faster than first gear he starts.......are we there yet are we there yet are we there yet?  We have to try different things.  Does he like a view not like a view, does he like a calm bossy dog or a snuggle buddy he can cuddle into?  Or be alone? so we have to try middle cage, back cage only he wants out so badly he bolts as soon as the cage is opened a desperate deep longing.

Things are improving he jumps in enthusiastically with no help, no force.  So there is hope.

What he needs to learn is being a brute, barging bashing pushing and shoving makes you lose what you want.  It's the trying, waiting that gives you your freedom.  So we had words, repetitive, endless freedom to make decisions and mistakes kind of words....He jumps out flattening me landing on my bum.  I put him back in the lead stopping him from his goal.  He bolts again at the opening cage this time I stepped aside not using indications from me or body blocks it has to be his choice for him to understand it isn't bolting that gives freedom its calm decisions.

This continues until he hesitates and soon he is waiting still desperately longing but no longer physically or mentally wired in its place is calm determination to get what he wants and you know what he did it.  Old habits die hard though and relief is the biggest most determined motivator.  So we have a long road of bolting and whining before he realises just what gets him what he wants.

Now and again things transpire to change your plan, alter your routine and review.  We often do of course and as usual it wasn't only Rez and Elvis learning today.  We changed things around and did things a little differently and the results were surprising.

Three vans, three nannies and lots of expectant guys and gals.

An eight acre field and all the time in the world.

We opened the doors and waited. Most waited some didn't.
The ones that hadn't were called back in and put back in whilst the ones who waited were released and allowed to play.  Many went about there business many waited and watched.

This continued until we had a few guys and gals and off we went for a walk, play and sniff.  They were all calm, happy and more than a little bemused. after a lap we called all back in and popped back into our vans.....

They recalled.

Even though they knew they could run, play, play the fool and despite just being let out.

More exciting no grumping, no anxiety and no tempers flying.

Whooooo I like it.

So we did the same with the next guys with the same results even the recall and being put back in the van with just one lap of the field.

This was repeated until all had been out and then we did it again same results.

They were calm.  Interested and eager to see what would happen next.  No barking, very little rough play and not travelling as far.


Soon we mixed the guys and continued walking and the effects stayed.  We always recall them, we always make them wait, we always insist they are gentle and kind with each other. Of course they don't  always choose to do it and we step in but today they used their own restraint, their own inhibition despite their urge to blast, run and play with gay abandon.

So well done guys.  Lovely to see our guys learning, enjoying and absorbing and all the while having fun.  And now they sleep, together some in huddles some in tidy little spaces.  The pup drapped over Willow, Murphy and Tallulah on watch.  Esther with her head over Lolas back and Tips curled tight into a ball.  Harry and Harvey lying down alongside each other politely whilst Elvis lies down tentatively succumbing to the Petnanny effect but with an air of anxiety that I hope in time will disperse to leave a relaxed happy lad in its place.

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