His screaming brought concerned citizens over- does your dog need water? Does he need a break? I think you should take off his Halti- I don’t think he can breath (okay people, if he can scream, he can certainly breath!). It was embarrassing. A duck toller scream is alarming- it sounds like a dying animal or child. I tried to shrug it off and laugh about it while my head was racing through management strategies and training protocols. In the end, he was removed from the craziness of the situation and placed away from the commotion. I couldn’t bring him home as we were going to demo impulse control exercises from the stage; which kind of made me laugh because in retrospect King was the one who was seriously needing impulse control lessons in the crazy environment.
Thankfully, the stage was raised and while he was demoing- Kingston was a peach. He still wasn’t nearly in tune with me as he usually is, but he wasn’t screaming and ignoring me…..until we brought other dogs on stage to demo with. Then he was removed from the situation as he was ignoring food and scrambling and screaming once more to my dismay.
What did this remind me?
1) Training is forever.
That’s right folks- it’s not just for today, or for when your dog is a puppy, or when you are struggling; training is on going. Your dog is constantly learning and re-learning what does and does not work for them.
2) Practice makes perfect.
Lately I have been super busy with clients and my dogs have been on the back burner. If you stop working on something (like focus in crazy, busy environments) you will have regression. Just like with many skills- if you don’t use it, you will lose it.
3) Compassion goes a long way.
Many people stopped, watched, judged (you could see the disgust on their faces, I could hear people comment as I passed) and offered unsolicited advice. I knew how to handle the situation (ultimately remove him) as he was not in the head space to learn. We need to work back up to where we once was and we will get there, but yesterday was not the day to try to get there.
Next year WILL be better, but it will take a lot of hard work to get back to that point. In the next month or two King will hopefully go in for his neuter (planning by the end of the year- just so busy) and that will help decrease hormonal arousal- as long as it is cause by his hormones and not a learned behaviour.
Regardless, we will preserver and we will get there and next year, hopefully we won’t concern quite as many people.