Friday, April 5, 2013

The Joys of Training a Fearful Dog

Oh baby dog. What am I going to do with you?!

I love pictures of Spencer. In photos I can capture the intensity and show some of the drive that this little dog has. He can be fun, so much fun. The key word there being CAN.

I want other people to be able to see that as well. I want for him to be able to reach his potential and be a crazy, fun little dog everywhere and not have to worry like he does. However, I also don't want to over face him with something that he just cannot handle just because I want him to do something. It's such a fine line.

Sometimes it's hard to tell what is shutting him down. We struggled at Flyball practice on Sunday. Spencer didn't want to play with a ball. Not Yellow Ball (his best, favorite toy) not one of the little tennis balls he's supposed to be getting from the box. Nothing. Not quite sure why, or what the issue might have been, but it gets frustrating sometimes. Then he'd tug with his hollee/tennis bungee toy, but again, wouldn't retrieve a toy. He's always retrieved but will often not tug in public, why the reversal?!

I'm good at identifying his triggers, and at breaking things down and working through steps with him. It's not his fault at all, I just wish sometimes that it wasn't 1 step forward and then 2 steps back.

Agility class on Monday night was a success though. He was happy and rotten and had good distance on obstacles, letting me layer a sequence.

I'm glad that even if we are struggling with one sport that we can be successful in other areas, be it dog sports or just in life in general.

He is doing better in agility. He's happy at practice in the barn. He was cute and excited at the March Fundraiser trial - one of the highlights of our Standard round was a woman saying what a fun little dog he is. Other competitors have commented on how far he has come. I have to try and focus on that a little bit more. He has come a long way. He is doing very well. Some things just take time, and with a worried, soft dog they take a little longer than they might otherwise. With the longer days and spring hopefully here we'll take the show on the road and practice playing/tugging and focusing in new places.

Patience, it is a virtue.

Sometimes it's just hard to remember that we don't always get the dog we want, but we do get the dog we need!

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