Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Bang Whooosh Weeeee

We were so lucky today to be joined by Emma Walker with her gun dog trained Hungarian Wire haired Vizsla and Dexter the dalmation.  Why lucky, when Emma often joins us?  This time she brought her dummy launcher.  This works by launching the dummy via a blank cap the distance it travels is phenomenal!  Our main aim was to test the dogs on their reactions to the noise whilst rewarding any of those who didn't panic with a great game of fetch.

We had a fair idea that Truffle wouldn't cope and we already know she needs support if there us thunder or gun shots, we also have our suspicions with Lottie who is currently following our advice on desensitisation with a noise cd so they stay in the van with a couple of chilled dogs who don't mind the noise.

Everyone else whilst we know them well we weren't quite sure how they would cope with 'gunshot' at close range.  we have practised this once before at a good distance away so I was happy to give it a go whilst at the field and with three people to be with them.

Well I was gobsmacked!

Not a peep out of anyone the first time.  Most shot off after the dummy probably wondering how Emma managed to throw it quite so far.

The second time Oliver jumped at noise then continued on without a flicker.  Fluffy showed confusion though no more and Bella was starting to look around so possible she was a little anxious.  Breeze didn't like it though not in a true fearful way we forget dogs can dislike something rather than just be scared.  Breeze is a failed worker though not through being gun-shy he was simply work shy haha.

The last time I could see Bella was indeed unsettled though no more and Fluffy didn't want to join in with running after dummy so we did no more and allowed free running before encouraging them to play and go back to the bottom of the field in case any associated the noise with a place.

I was surprised to see Lottie wasn't at all bothered in van and Truffle though a little anxious came straight out and found toy happy to tease Lottie with it so not as fearful as she has been in the past.

It is such a relief to have the time(we make the time!) and space to try these things as they all help us to prepare our training and walking to accommodate our guys fears, likes and preferences.  What surprised me was the increase in tension so we now know that whilst a thunderstorm or clay pigeon shoot may startle them at first we have to make sure those dogs who showed tension are popped on a lead and taken away from the area as they show increased tension with the stimulus rather than relaxing once they know what is join to happen next.

Non of the dogs bolted which is pretty much the worse case scenario, this is hard to train for whereas tension/ anxiety can be worked on as we have with Lottie. We have all the time in the world in many ways to work on this and simply playing the cd very low in the van whilst the dogs are sharing the space with non reactive dogs can help immeasurably.

You can never tell which dogs will react, indeed we had pugs, chihuahua, collies, labs and it was the crossbred bitch a tibetan and a cocker who reacted.  Truffle is a staffie cross who are definitely a sensitive breed although we know where her fear originated when we were caught in a terrible electrical storm a couple of years back and Lottie who is sensitive by nature and she is improving weekly.

We also noticed how quickly dogs associated an action/ sound/ environmental cue with the thing they didn't like.  So Fluffy on our first lap didn't want to go to the three quarter line of the field once we passed with lots of praise love and silliness he soon relaxed, Bella reacted to the moment I said Go but only when we were poised and watching so true to form showing true superstitious behaviour.

Now and again you have to step back and watch wait and enjoy.  Today was one of those days.  Despite all of the change, trauma and turmoil I am proud of how we have held it together, showing the dogs nothing but consistency, love and a smidgeon of aggravation haha.

Lots to work on as ever but a very good learning experience and good for the dogs too.

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