I remembered to take out my camera last Sunday, which was our second session on this class, and got the worried Una on camera for the first time (only slightly worried on the video). I usually don’t have my camera rolling during these situations but concentrate on quite different things…
We did exercises (similar ones, with some variations, as on the first session – I didn’t write a post about that), taking turns:
- Stay put and do exercises under distraction: Una needed to concentrate on me while the classmates walked past us. Went well, since I told the others they must not come too close, Una can’t handle that yet.
- Walk and do exercises under distraction: We walked past classmates, keeping contact. Went reasonably well. Una still needs to look around and sniff the ground a lot when she walks over areas she has not covered recently. Especially if another dog has walked that route. But no barking. I needed to be very fast to C-T when she got worried, though. Luckily, I’m getting quite good at this, reacting fast 🙂
- Encountering a pig-headed dog walker, who doesn’t give room to you even when she sees you are trying to keep your stressed dog under control: We walked, Una free to explore. Our trainer with her two dogs was invisible behind a structure on the other side of the training field. We turned to their direction, and simultaneously, the trainer appeared and walked straight towards us. We needed to pass them, taking a detour as widely as needed since they didn’t give way.
- This exercise was not planned, but was the most difficult for Una. Looking at a person partly obscured behind a structure: One of our classmates, Paavo, can’t handle seeing other dogs except for very short periods. Her trainer stood behind an A-obstacle with him at one point. Una was extremely worried, seeing only a disembodied human head hovering over the high obstacle. She did not relax at all until the situation changed. I kept rewarding her at a high rate for looking silently.
- A second situation that was not planned. A group of trainers gathered just outside the training field (probably would have wanted to use the field which was reserved for us). They were a bit noisy and one of them, frankly, rough with her dog. Una was very worried, especially when the rough person’s dog apparently run to another dog and she spurted after him, running and shouting at the top of her lungs (PERKELE could be heard, among other things)… I strongly disapprove this kind of behavior towards any dog, and especially among other dogs, and got quite angry myself (internally, not expressively).
These sessions have been very good for Una. We are outside, with a lot of mostly distraction-free room around us. When Una has made her initial scan-and-explore routine, she relaxes a bit. This expresses itself in the form frequent tug-of-wars with me, using her leash. I’m glad she can let out the nervous energy this way 🙂
I like the trainer, Kirsi Ruuskanen. She reads dogs well, makes good, individual suggestions to each trainee, and has a positive rewarding -based approach that sets dogs up for success.