Monday, March 3, 2014

Training: Behaviorist House Call

Now that Barry went through an obedience course that we all learned a lot from we wanted to really work on his loose leash skills. The obedience course barely touched on loose leash walking and the trainer thought Barry walked well by our side at the time. He didn't. Not really.
I'm sorry I don't walk well on a leash. It's just not
natural to me to do this. Be patient, please.
Husband has said many times (sort of, kind of, not really jokingly?) that he will need surgery to repair the damage caused by Barry pulling so hard it yanks his shoulder out of place. Barry does pull hard. That hard. We have used the methods we've learned and were shown and maybe we just weren't consistent enough, or didn't use them properly. We're not entirely sure what's gone wrong. There has been progress in some ways. For example, he pays attention to us more often during the walk. It started out that he wouldn't even realize we were walking him. He was zoned out and focused on anything but us. The obedience course did show us the 'Look' command or 'Watch'. This is meant to bring his attention back to us. He knows now if we say, "Look" he will have to look at us and he'll get a treat or praise. Sometimes he still doesn't look at us but sometimes he does. It's better than nothing. It's been getting better but he still pulls like a motha. I mean it. This guy is a bull. His body is built to pull weight I think.

With the Spring and Summer hopefully upon us we'd like to take him on long strolls through the park, around our neighborhood and by other dogs, to pubs and restaurants with outdoor seating, in general just walking down the street without him being so leash reactive to other animals that it scares other people, and last, to let him play with other dogs that are friendly and have owners that don't mind their dog meeting Barry. We likely will never take him to a dog park but we will encounter dogs at public parks, on sidewalks, and other various public spots. I'd just love to be able to allow Barry to meet other dogs. As it is now we only allow it under certain circumstances. He's just too darn leash reactive. We certainly don't think he needs to be perfect. I'm not perfect myself and I'd never expect that of another person much less my beloved baby, Barry. We do want him to be less rude, though.

So it came that we would need someone to help us with his walking and some of the behavior he exhibited while on walks, towards other dogs, and those squirrels. We looked into a couple of things. There are some more courses we could take. People that do specialized obedience training, training for pit bulls, etc. Some were cheap and even free and others were outrageous and would require Barry to be at a boot camp for two weeks. We don't really think Barry needs an entire overhaul, just some redirection. We are the ones that really need to figure out what we're doing wrong and how to change that as well.  We decided if we could get a trainer in to come to our home and and work with Barry in his environment and all of the usual distractions (rather than at a class in another location) it would be highly beneficial.

I don't really wanna leave to do training. Okay?
Our dog walker recommended a behaviorist she used for her dog, Rose. I immediately contacted the behaviorist, Megan, and we were set an appointment for a house call. She is local, makes house calls, is highly recommended and her price is right. With realistic expectations (because please, never have unrealistically high expectations, you set yourself up for disappointment) and a touch of hope we awaited her visit and we all had a bit of pep in our step.

Next up on training: The Tip of the Iceburg

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