Reactivity – the power of understanding pressure.

It’s hard to believe I picked this big girl up just a week ago and two days prior she had to be sedated the night before AND the morning of to be able to go to the vets without her losing her cool,

At people and dogs.

Callie is our latest Board and Train and a really special one at that,

she currently doesn’t have a home (HINT HINT 😉) and without our help she wouldn’t have had a chance in gaining one given her very serious reactivity issues.

This is her yesterday, in the middle of petstock loving life as she gets thoroughly blow dried.

Hannah and I were almost gagging at the smell of her, I can’t imagine just how uncomfortable she was feeling before the soak and treatment she got for the yeast that been hanging out in those rolls of her.

I was fully prepared not to be able to do this with her and have to walk out before being able to get her into the hydro bath.

I’ve picked my groomer for this very reason, she gets it that some dogs can only handle so much and pushing based that point can have the complete opposite effect.

Even if it just means showing up and standing around for 5 minutes then leaving, that’s better than not going at all, that’s better than causing a bad experience and escalating behaviours.

And it’s exactly why it went so well.

There wasn’t any pressure, any expectation of what Callie HAD to do, it was all based on what she would allow us to do.

On her being willing to follow my lead and trust that I had her back that she didn’t need to hate on everyone and everything around her to protect herself.

Don’t get me wrong, she didn’t sail through the process like this the entire time, she is food mad and she wouldn’t take treats so her stress levels were super clear, she growled and barked at one man but followed me and calmed down super quick, while we were walking her around letting her treatment soak, and a pile of cans in the aisle that she found to be a little scary. She allowed staff to come up and pat her.

Despite how she was feeling she was willing and able to trust Hannah and I, allow us to wash her, soak her, blow dry her AND clip her nails. Really Hannah did all the work, I just made it look like I was working just as hard haha
I’ll remind you again this same dog had to be sedated a week ago for everyone’s safety

and I am all for safety as I said if needed I would have bailed on the grooming session if she couldn’t handle it but she so needed it, and I knew she would feel sooo much better afterwards.

I was so happy with this outcome.

It was made possible with the right structure, the right communication, I was able to check in with Callie when she needed it, help her move through things that were hard, and we were able to take pressure off of her by taking our time and doing things she was able to show us she was fairly comfortable with.

Hannah and I are a great team with these types of dogs it’s only because we get that when we put pressure on a dog when they are already feeling pressure from outside sourcing that we can’t control –

Strangers, other dogs and animals, the wind blowing etc
It makes it even harder for the dog to cope with the situation.

Time, structure, guidance and trust building all made this possible and I can’t wait to see where this dogs at in a couple more weeks time.

The best part to all of this?

None of the work is complicated, it’s not something only a dog trainer can do and it’s going to take hours out of your day to train.

I get my clients working no more than 5 minutes per day and I remind them to have a “couple of days off” to step back and refresh themselves from the work.

Board and Trains make the process go just a little faster but

it’s something any owner can do for and with their dog, you just need to know how.

 

Kids and Dogs

There has been a lot of traction and talk and knowledge and training around safety with kids and dogs, bite prevention etc

I haven’t bothered to mention it on here because well, I figure I will probably sound like a broken record.

You know how to teach your kids not to be assholes to dogs, that stuff toys are for squeezing jumping on and pulling ears, tails etc

Living breathing animals need and deserve respect, care and a gentle approach.

So what does it look like when your dog(s) has a really healthy relationship with your kid(s)?

I was thinking about this yesterday as I was hanging out the washing, I wish I had of had my phone on me because it was such a sweet moment I wanted to share.

I have two beautiful kids Mason 5, Eleanor 3, Eleanor came outside with me and sat on the grass to watch me, after trying to “help” me and it just wasn’t working out.

Jax our Staffy came over and sat on her lap, she has just been learning about where dogs love to be scratched the most, so as soon as she sits, he knows he is in for a treat.

They were both calmly enjoying each other’s company when Bundy came to join them laying beside her and placing is head on the other leg Jax hadn’t plonked his big butt on and she started scratching him behind the ears.

No in your face business, no over excitement, no being too rough or worrying that one may upset the other, no over excitement I got to hang out the washing in peace and both dogs and child got to plug in and connect with someone else.

Never underestimate how powerful connecting through touch really is.

My kids also play with the dogs, one of there favourite games is chasey, were they run and Jax plods behind them knowing he could easily catch up to them but is enjoying just being in the moment with them.

Or fetch where the dogs will patiently sit there and wait for the dogs to throw the ball, they have been taught not to taunt or tease the dogs with the toy and to play by the rules both dogs and kids have been taught or they just simply aren’t allowed to play.

Because they can play together well, hang out quietly and calmly well, or sometimes completely ignore one another and go about their business, my kids can freely come in and out of the house, yes I check on them but with 2 kids, 2 dogs and a busy schedule running a biz etc I don’t always have the time to sit and watch every thing they do, if I did have to do that, my kids wouldn’t get to spend as much time outside.

Now I’m not saying any of this to say through your kids outside unsupervised and she’ll be right.

A lot of work went into both kids and dogs to achieve this dynamic and I am so thankful for it.

Running a business takes up a lot of time and I don’t always have the time or energy to exercise the dogs the way I would love to,

In fact you may have noticed I have been pretty quiet recently, and it’s because I have been struggling with chronic pain issues just recently I was stuck in bed for three weeks.

Thank goodness I have incredible clients who were still learning, working and making progress even with me being bed bound you guys are rockstars.

And I’m on the way to recovery.

But I have also been incredibly grateful that the kids can help me out by playing with the dogs and spending time with them, which relieves so much stress from myself and the guilt of “not doing enough”

It was hard work to get the structures and foundation in for both kids and dogs but in the bigger picture of things is has made my life easier.

The best part is the older they get the more that they can do with the dog, wearing them both out so if I’m tired or just wanting to chill I can enjoy them both in their quieter moments.

because sometimes we want to muck around and play with our kids and dogs and sometimes we have had a big day and our body is asking for rest, and every mumma is more than deserving of some down time.

especially you.

If you have kids especially of primary school age but you aren’t taking advantage of how much they can actually help you out with your dog(s) we should definitely have a chat x

 

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Dog training not just for the Albury Wodonga area

Location, location, location.

Is not everything.

We often get asked where we are located which I am always more than happy to share, we are located on the border of NSW and VIC residing on the Albury side.

HOWEVER

We have clients spread all over this beautiful country.

Funny story one of my clients regularly dropped her dog off two houses up from mine, we worked through all hers and her dogs issues and met for the first time at our first retreat 5 hours away in Phillip Island.

ahhh I love our retreats, take me back…

anyway!

We have clients who live hours away that were struggling with anxiety issues, reactivity issues even issues between dogs living together and without ever meeting them we have helped heal and solve these issues as well as move onto greater more exciting work and adventures with these wonderful people.

How does it work and whats the catch?

The catch is you have to be willing to put in the work, dog training has never been about the dog, what we can hands on teach your dog is irrelevant and what has always been the most important piece of owners success is how well they learn, and what skills they learn to build a better understanding of their dog, how they can create stronger communications and bonds with there dog so they can have clear communication with each other no matter where they are or what is happening around them.

unfortunately the educational system for humans up until now hasn’t been well designed having people rely on their trainer being there in person to help move them through the sticking points.

The cons of that? You have to wait a week, 2 weeks between consults and with some trainers and behaviourist 3 months until you see them again.

Who has time to wait around hoping they are getting the work right and what if it’s not quite suited to you and your dog?

What if it does need to be changed a little?

No dog or person is the same and while things are similar, everyone’s household set up is different. How do you ensure the work is correctly fitting into your life.

How do you know when or how to shift that work into other areas of your life?

Fade out food?

Not have to rely on certain management techniques you have built in to avoid triggers or sliding backwards.

You deserve to have all that catered to.

Don’t get me wrong I love working hands on with the dogs and the people, selfishly I had a really hard time moving into this formula of teaching, I would love to spend in person time all the time with my clients and their dogs, I absolutely adore them but I wouldn’t have the chance to serve the people I am so blessed to serve that are spread all over the place and I wouldn’t be able to spend as much time working with them as “hands on” as I do now.

I get to know my clients on a deeper level than ever before, I almost feel like I get to step into their home on a regular basis throughout the week, offer more solid and sturdy support through any difficulties the dogs have in transitioning to better behaviours.

Get a deeper insight into what is and isn’t working and are able to coach them through any sticking points faster and more efficiently than ever before, the best part about that? Is because of that my clients get to learn more from me in the time we spend working together.

How we educate dog owners is changing and we are at the forefront of that change, I’m a results based and driven person, I want the easiest, communication and connection driven, sustainable training methods that I can find for my clients and I have searched high and low and hired the best of the best to formulate good, strong educational systems for them to set them up the best I possible can for success.

and well, when I look at my clients and the progress they make, a pang of jealousy does make itself known, because they are doing things in weeks that took me thousands of dollars, working with several trainers, and a butt tonne of hands on experience in training and 6 years of dedicated work to achieve for my own personal goals with my dog whiiiiich finally after a long ass journey it came together and they do it in a matter of flipping weeks BUT not only do I get that *little* pang of jealousy.

it also makes me dam proud that they took a chance on me, that they trusted me and the educational platform that I had constructed for them.

Jumping on almost a decades worth of behavioural work, mistakes experiences learning what does and doesn’t work within a HOME environment, with a busy schedule a business to run kids to raise and high energy dogs to deal with when you so aren’t a jogger but you do love a nice stroll in nature, to be doing things they didn’t believe were possible, having results spring up where they weren’t expecting or focusing on.

It’s bloody brilliant to see.

and they all agree on the same thing, they ALL wish they had of done it sooner.

Want to know more?

Hit me up for a free phone consultation so we can have a chat, assess what your needs are and IF we are the right fit for what you need xx

 

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Changing your dogs mindset.

I had a client reach out yesterday having trouble throughout the course work, I was waiting for it.

I prep all my clients for the kick back, when things are going great and running smoothly then bam it’s a shit show, sometimes behaviours they have never seen or haven’t seen in a long time surface.

For those who have been playing along on this page for a while know I have discussed doggy tantrums before.

You don’t think they will happen until they happen.

This is what happens when dealing with and working through heavy and deeply ingrained behaviours like anxiety and/or reactivity, (where the dog is flying off the handle and all the owner can do is hold on and hope it will be over soon, or hope the neighbours don’t complain to the council again as their dog flies at the fence.)

The work we do is deep, see you can do surface stuff, sits and drops but it doesn’t translate to every day life, when you are moving around the home with your dog or out and about on the street.

The systems we use are complex but the work is simple, we know how and why the things we teach our clients work all the have to know is HOW to do the work and it makes complete sense to them.

It’s not the work that’s the hard part, it’s easy.

The hard part is changing a dogs mindset.

When you have a dog that is make decisions from a very emotional place, I describe it as their brain basically falls out of their head, everything disappears except for the one thing that has triggered them and nothing in that moment is really all that effective.

My job is to help clients get in there and build communication and methods that help a dog learn how to regular and be more self aware of his emotions as well as being able to pop that brain of his back into his head so that he can realise he isn’t alone in this and there are other choices.

Emotional change and growth for a dog is hard, it’s like trying to learn how to write left handed when there is nothing wrong with your right hand, your brain fights what you are doing when there is no logical reason not to do it the easier and more sufficient way, you see as far as your dogs brain is concerned what he is doing is the best, easiest most efficient way of survival.

He isn’t doing it to be a jerk, to spite your hard work, and this is why we work closely along side our clients to make deep changes isn’t easy and so many things are working under the surface that can halt your progress, and if you don’t know it’s normal that it’s a part of the growth and change, well, most people throw in the towel and say fuck this right before the break through right before the dogs brain accepts the changes and builds the “muscle” to carry out the new behaviour just as efficiently as the old behaviour.

One thing I realised as I spoke with my client yesterday is that in a perfect scenario none of them would need me.

If they had a different dog, a more balanced dog, one that had a better start in life, less energetic, less drive or if they had of had the training in how to handle energetic, drivey dogs, been aware of that dogs genetics and known what the future may be with that dog before bonding and falling in love with it, if they had of picked a different puppy. If the timing was different.

They wouldn’t need me.

Its not that they lack the ability to care for, train and love a dog.

They have all owned dogs before, they come to me with skills and experience prior to this particular dog.

And yes you influence your dog. your choices, your management of their behaviour does have an impact, but when I look at each individual dog, they aren’t easy dogs no matter who owned them, how they were raised from day one, they would still have their challenges, their quirks, they are highly intelligent highly emotional dogs.

They are different they aren’t your regular easy going lab that just gets a little excited.

These a complex dogs with complex things going on under the surface.

I see people often getting caught up in where did I go wrong and if I can find that one point, maybe recreate it? Maybe work back from there we can fix this.

Going back will not help you move forward.

All my clients know this – they could have maybe eventually found the answer on there own they are driven people who work hard on the things they care deeply about, they are always willing to fight for their dogs happiness and aren’t content with just ok, that drive would have had them continuing trying with or without me.

The ONLY difference between them and me?

I have dedicated hours upon hours and learning practical and theory for over a decade, I have made numerous mistakes, watched and taken data on others, poured hours into making things work and continually improving the process.

I made this my lifes work, this is something I wont ever stop working on, it’s a slight obsession I’ll admit but I wouldn’t have it any differently.

And the best part is that my clients don’t just learn from me, I am continuously learning from them as well.

And one thing I have learned is that they are all so capable of handling these dogs when they piggy back off of the years of blood sweat and tears I have poured into this profession.

That’s what happens when you hire a specific person for a specific job that you don’t have all the answer to, you fast track your own journey by jumping on the path they have carved out.

We don’t have time to learn all the things, to do everything on our own.

You wouldn’t spend 3 years learning to cut and dye hair just so you could give yourself any hairstyle you wanted.

You wouldn’t spend 4 years learning to be a mechanic just to service your own car.

And you certainly wouldn’t enter the life of becoming a GP just to be your own doctor.

Dogs lives are so short compared to our own, and the one thing I hear from every client is “I just wish I had found you/done this sooner”

as always with training the sooner the better but it is NEVER too late to create change x

BARKING DOGS

BARKING DOGS

One of the most common problems people struggle with,

Which is funny because EVERYONE seems to have to answer as to why a dog barks and how to fix it.

Which usually goes something like you’re dog is most likely bored, you need to do more with him, he needs more environmental enrichment, he needs more toys.

Meanwhile, the people I speak with – their dog has ample toys, works out treat dispensing toys in a flash, if they work their dog for the food i.e sit, drops and tricks the dogs nail them quickly and both owner and dog get bored fast with the same repetitive tasks, they walk or play with their dog frequently.

Buuuut he is still barking at the neighbours movements, passer byers, at the fact that a bird farted.

They feel frustrated, like they aren’t or can’t do enough for their dog, that everyone makes it sound so god dam simple and they just can’t get it together.

Truth is there are LOTS of reasons why dogs bark.

Boredom is usually on the bottom of my lists of why.

When speaking with people they usually have a dog that is either or both highly anxious and highly energetic or high drive.

It’s usually misplaced energy, frustration or an attempt to realise emotions that are making the dog feel tense or wound up.

Sure you can call that boredom throw toys, treats, training, and heaps of exercise at the problem but if you don’t know what you are doing and why, how is that going to actually dig into the core issue and start to fix it?

So what DO you do instead?

I think all but one of our currently clients was or is currently struggling with barking being ONE of the issues their dog actually has, it’s one we get caught up in and zero in on because it bothers the neighbours, it bothers our peace and quite and we can also receive council complaints and warnings.

But when we assess what’s going on around the dog we find that the communication between the owner and dog isn’t great, the connection isn’t as strong as they wished it could be, they don’t do the things they wished they could with their dog because of the way he behaves, and when they are really honest, they love their dog but they find him tiring he just seems like yet another chore they have argue with themselves about doing training, exercise or play because none of it seems to work anyway.

We have carefully designed our programs to heal those things, to bring back the connection, with that comes motivation, they feel closer to their dog then ever before, they begin building the foundation they need to truly get in and fix the problem of barking and once we do address that issue, it’s already improving on it’s own, it seems like no effort at all to get a handle on the issue,  and usually owners like the fact their dog barks, they just wish he could understand when it was appropriate and when its not, and that’s why we teach them a system that clearly shows the dog this.

This TAKES time.

Something I say often to people.

We are not a take away business.

We are not cheap, easy or fast.

We want to build results that are long lasting that address all aspects of the dogs and owners lives, to ensure that the work matches them, can be moulded to suit their lives and the changes that will occur in it.

Because at a guess having 10 plus years with your dog shits going to change, life doesn’t stand still, people go through injuries, moves, expanding family, loosing family, all things that can impact on you, your dog and how things appropriate in the household.

I love management strategies, having things to lean on during those rough patches or changes in your own life or your dogs life, which is what those solutions that are so frequently given for barking are

But they aren’t sustainable, they can’t be kept up forever, I have lost count the amount of people who have rang me with injuries, who were walking there dog up to twice a day to keep the bad behaviours at bay to have everything fall apart and all the things they were keeping just under the surface spring up, now on top of an injury they have to deal with say – a lot of barking.

“it’s because you aren’t walking him as much any more”

No sally it’s because people like you keep pumping out the same old story people don’t realise that they need to take into account that walking doesn’t fix an issue like that, it just puts a band aid over it and helps make living with the dog easier.

It doesn’t solve the dogs coping skills, yes you should walk your dog, it’s nice to get out of the house but you shouldn’t solely rely on one thing to manage an issue, and there is a huge difference between management and teaching your dog how to cope when shit changes.

Dig in and do the hard work and you get the long term, sustainable results.

Do the “easy” work and watch how quickly all that time and energy slips backwards because you couldn’t for what ever reason sustain it any longer.

 

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