Training for Real Life – and when you need to rely on it!

This weekend has been a tough one for me, not so much for my Norwich Terriers! It really highlights to me how many environmental and true to life situations can happen and could potentially spook or confuse my own dogs but with some planned practise can become another way to positively praise your dogs!

Im having an ME Crash weekend – this means I’m experiencing payback for having tried to do too much, which in this case was having my hair coloured by my mum Saturday after a busy and stressful few days with work and events! So Saturday afternoon and evening I slept, most of Sunday I slept, when I got up for my dogs it was so uncomfortable I needed my walking stick, something I don’t use often if I can help it, and move slowly.

So today, Sunday morning, my 3 dogs ask to go out and they patiently wait for me to get out of bed slowly, move to one side as I fumble for my stick. As I walk to the door my dogs pass me slowly and carefully so as to not trip me up and leave the space available in front of me that my stick needs. They don’t chew my stick or try and play with it.

When I get to the back door it takes me a couple of minutes to open it as my hands are so painful and the door is heavy but my dogs stand patiently and wait without barking or scrabbling at the door. And in their way back in they come to me, turn and back up close so I can reach their tails to stroke instead of presenting their heads as they realise this is a day I can’t bend down to their height! This was just a 20 minute segment – we had breakfast prep and servicing, our dog walk etc also, all at my pace.

Without previous training practise the walking stick could have been exciting or scary to my dogs which would making me relying on it dangerous. Without self control work they would have been racing back and forth excitedly as I made my way slowly to the door and thus would have tripped me up and I would have fallen on them!

Its worth thinking about what changes can take place for you or your family that may affect your dogs as putting some practise in place now will help later on. Family members who visit with walking sticks or wheelchairs that your dog may not be used to, if you suffer with a bad back and require your dogs to learn to stand on a seat or paws up on a box to help you get their collar on for a walk, crate training to give your dogs their own safe space before a friend visits with their friendly but excited children! Replicating situations before they are needed can mean you can take your time with your dogs, can work through any surprises and if and when you need to rely on the scenario your dog is more likely to respond positively.

Plus of course these provide additional new challenges for you and your dog to spend time working on which to me is a great way to spend time! Have a think about what might be useful in the future – maybe a new baby on the way with new sounds, smells, not wanting a dog to jump up, or an operation in a few weeks which means you can’t bend or stretch to much so need your dog to not pull on lead or to go get their lead for you …

I’m grateful I have dogs who are well socialised to life itself and can adapt reasonably easily but also see an opportunity to teach them how to handle a new situation as just this, an opportunity – making for a much more straightforward time working through a personally difficult day while ensuring my three dogs were not stressed or out of routine.

I leave you with a short video of Merlin helping me with fetching a tissue from the box when I sneeze – I love my little dogs!

 

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