Barking, Lunging....Light at the end of the tunnel
So, I don’t post that often but I skim through the posts just about every day soaking in all the information. I see a lot of posts from people with young GSDs and they are worried about their dog barking, lunging, and whining during obedience classes or even out on walks when seeing other dogs. I just wanted to post an encouragement to all those people to hang in there!
I have had the same issues with Willow and last night we went to class and it was the first time we made it through the whole hour and there was not one bark, no whining and she stayed by my side the whole time. She even impressed the trainer. We did figure 8’s where the dog and handler are the posts. Willow actually heeled by my side in proper position around the dogs and when we were the post she only turned her head twice as a dog passed by and when I said “leave it” she looked right back at me! Usually she would be more interested in the other dogs to pay a bit of attention to me. Willow is just a little over 16 months and I think she is coming along nicely. We are taking a CGC class that starts in Feb. I wanted to wait for CGC until we could work more on her dog reaction issues.
Some of the training things we did to work on this: In addition to a weekly class, I try to take her to a pet store once a week and we just walk around the store for awhile. If she gets excited and starts barking, I make her sit or down and stay. When she calms down, release and treat and then we keep going. When we go on walks through the neighborhood there are certain places where dogs reside and she knows it. Once I notice her start to perk up we stop and I make her sit. When she calms down we continue to walk. I work hard to make sure my body language is calm, no tension on the leash. I say really happy “Let’s go” and try to keep her attention on me. I keep treats on me for all of our walks and she gets them if she keeps her attention on me. If we are walking by a barking dog and she wants to keep looking back I pick up my pace a bit and maybe jog through it. It makes her have to keep up with me and not worry so much about the other dog. Lately she has been doing great with this, we will see if her progress continues when it gets warmer and more dogs are out. Also a few months ago we did a private training session with a trainer that works with reactive dogs. She showed me a few things to redirect her attention as well. Such as, if I stick my hand out and Willow touches her nose to my hand it is an automatic treat EVERY time. All I have to do is say “Nose” and she comes over to me and noses my hand. I use this in our OB classes during down times when she would tend to get whiny because she was bored. Works great.
Now, I am not saying the work we are doing is over, just that she is sooooo much better than she was even 1-2 months ago. I know it is a combination of training and also I think she is maturing a bit as well. So for all of you out there with young’uns, keep the faith and know that your GSD can get better with training and some patience.
And my Girls.....
Dallas - ACD mix, 11 yrs
Willow - GSD, 5 yrs, CGC