There are A LOT of dogs in our town. It seems that there are at least two dogs at every other house on our daily walks. Most of these dogs bark. And they bark A LOT.
This upsets Gentry. He gets nervous and anxious as we get closer to the yards with the barking dogs. Gentry doesn't bark or lunge on the leash, but he whines and may lag behind me a bit, gently pulling on the leash, like he wants to turn around.
I've been watching lots of Cesar Millan lately and one thing he does with an aggressive dog who lunges and screams at the end of the leash, at the dogs barking in a yard, is to approach the yard and have the aggressive dog turn it's rear to the yard dogs. This is a dogs' way of showing submission. Cesar doesn't get the dog close enough to the fence for any smelling and touching (obviously!!) but it's amazing the effect it has on the aggressive, on leash dog.
SO, I decided to try something. To help Gentry with his anxiety and nervousness around the barking dogs, I have him turn his back to the yard and sit. I give him a cookie. Then I tell him to lay "down". Then I give him a cookie. While he is laying down, calm and submissive, I stroke him a little, then I stand up, Gentry continues to lay down. The most amazing thing happens to the dogs in the yards...
THEY STOP BARKING.
Every time, they stop barking and sit down, watching us. Sometimes we are across the road from them, sometimes we are right smack in front of their fence. But every time they quiet down and relax. Even with me standing. I don't make eye contact and I don't talk to them or my dogs. (Angus is usually just hanging out beside me, sometimes I ask him to sit too, that way he can have a treat!)
This has been amazing. When Gentry starts to get anxious, he may start to whine a little, then it's like a light bulb goes on and he looks up at me, focuses in on my face and watches me. When he does this I give him a cookie. If he goes straight to nervous, pulling on the leash a little, lagging behind me, then I'll do the sit, down method. He gets up calm and submissive and ready to continue on our walk!
Cesar's extreme methods are for dogs that have gone beyond normal. They are emotional wrecks, so they need extreme handling. But for a mostly stable dog, you can take some of the methods, tone them down and use them. Does Gentry wear a choke chain? No. Do I pull on his neck? No. Do I pet him when he is barking, showing anxiety or whining? No.
I know that I am not a balanced person at this time in my life. I have some MAJOR stresses going on and I have to learn how to deal with them in a more healthy way. But that doesn't mean that I should allow my dog to become anxious, nervous and out of control, if I can help it. So I do my best! Cesar has really helped me to see how my feelings and behavior effect my dogs.
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