Last year I made a huge error and Hunter suffered the backlash of it.
I used to leave the house around 5am to get the boys walked before the rest of the village woke up, but on this particular day I was late getting up and going out for the walk. In the old house, as you left the front door, you were straight out on to the square, where the cars parked and the people walked the circuit with their own dogs.
Anyway on this day, as I woke up and looked at the clock, it was only bloody 7am!
You know what it’s like when you’re late, and you spend the next moments of your life rushing and invariably fucking things up. What I should have done, was say ‘Ok, I’m late, let’s do our day off stuff today”, but in the rush and panicked mindset, I hooked the dogs up and proceeded with my walking plan.
Without even looking through the stained glass window on the front door, or the kitchen window, I opened it and out we went, where we were met with another not one, but two dogs. Hunter couldn’t have been any closer to them. They were right outside our door.
Thinking back on it now, Hunter froze when he saw them, which is not always a great sign but the determining factor for him kicking off barking was actually me. I did the human thing of going ”Oh shit” and tensing up on the lead.
If I would have kept my damn gob shut instead of being taken by surprise and speaking, I reckon he would have thought more about how he was going to deal with the situation. And who knows could have greeted politely and kept quiet
But because I panicked, so did he.
At 7am in the morning, and hanging onto a big booming barker of a GSD, I was super conscious of the noise he was making. To stop the bellowing any more, I instinctually picked him up and carried him back inside.
He wasn’t at all amused by this and wriggled to try and get free. We were both fret with panic, I just didn’t think at all.
I committed the cardinal sin of worrying what other people thought. Yeah, no one want’s that racket of a noise at that hour of the day, but I didn’t put Hunter first and instead my brain scanned quick fix ways to stop the noise quickly.
I could feel myself getting annoyed and frustrated with him too, and back when I knew no better, I wouldn’t have thought twice about telling him to ‘ pack it in’ or ‘shut up’
But even with my training experience, hundreds of situations in managing a barking dog and knowing full well what works and what doesn’t in a specific situation, I’m still only human at the end of the day.
I feel the same emotional distress, worry, embarrassment, frustrations and not so much now but anger has been at the forefront of my handling brain before, it lingers inside of me ready to blurt out like the bubbles coming out of a fizzy pop bottle.
My teachings are that of kindness, patience and support. In everything I do, I tell people to relax. Switching off and relaxing with a barking dog, of any size but more importantly a larger dog, who has the ability to lunge and drag you at seemingly any given time is hard. In some cases our own emotions can make the problem behaviour much worse.
But by changing a few simple things, you can actually help your dog out more by first helping yourselves.
Confidence is key. Not too much that it overflows into arrogance, but enough to share with your dog, that you’ve got this.
If you want to learn more about how to do exactly that, and build your own confidence in handing your dog, then you need to be doing three things, right now with your barking dog.
- Find out why they are barking, don’t just say it’s breed specific because even the dogs bred to bark, can be taught to quieten down.
- Are they barking through a medical issue? No amount of training can fix a barking dog, IF they are doing it through pain. Get yourself booked in with a trainer, get them to look at your dog, and see if they can spot any immediate medical problem signs.
- Third thing to do, is to never do it alone. Trust me, I was that cocky kid who thought she knew everything, thought she could stop the barking on her own. I quickly found that I couldn’t and I, even as a pet professional, went out and sought further advice and help from those more qualified than I was. There is no shame in asking for help.
Our goal is for a better behaved dog, my goal is for a better behaved society of dogs. Ones where they aren’t put up in court and destroyed all because they jumped up and nipped someone. Dog’s can get put down for that, if you come up against the wrong person.
In order to change your dog’s behaviour, you must first learn to change your own.
If you want to learn how to do that, then be sure to register for the YOUR GSD free masterclass I will be holding on March 3rd, 7pm.
The link to use is here