Friday, 1 April 2016

We had a breakthrough today!

I had such an amazing walk with Snapper today and I didn't take any photos! No I don't have a fever and I'm not sick. We went walking with Caroline and her daughter and their white lab, Prince. Prince is such a lovely dog!! I love labs, they make the best companions.
Snapper is my lovely adopted rescue dog, he's nearly 4 years old and we've had him for 7 months now. He's a Yorkshire Terrier and might be mixed with a Jack Russel, that wasn't made clear. He came to us with social issues and a tendency to bite if he didn't know you and you reached for his head without warning. He's also not great with other dogs. We've been taking it slowly with him and taking the calm and reassuring approach. I'm happy to say it's paying off and he's a much happier and nicer dog today. Still away to go, but we are getting there. :-)
What was so amazing about today's walk? Well Snapper isn't very well socialized and we've been working with him. He doesn't like strangers in his face and will nip and even bite if surprised or rushed at. He's the same with dogs, he doesn't like them in his face and really doesn't like the hyper ones jumping at him. Prince is still like a puppy and bounces around a bit, which Snapper wasn't too keen on at first. First greeting was a bit shaky but Snapper soon calmed down and walked along side Prince, which was nice.
The best part was, after awhile when we were out in the woods, he let me put his muzzle on and he didn't completely shut down. He usually deactivates when we put it on, refusing to walk or even move with it on. But with Prince bouncing around he made an effort which was great! Great for me as I can relax and not worry about him biting Prince when Prince gets in his face. And as we were out on an area of land with the river on either side I took a chance and let Snapper off his lead. First time ever! And he was amazing! He ran around with Prince and if he got too far ahead I'd call out 'wait', and he'd stop and wait for me to catch up which was soooo amazing!
He stopped listening so much when we got close to town so I put the lead back on him. After goodbyes and we were on our way home, making our way up a field, I decided to try him off lead again, still with muzzle on. For a few minutes he stayed right with me, but then he saw some dogs up the hill and took off running. It would have to be UP hill wouldn't it?!! He didn't stop when I called this time. He was too distracted. Lucky he had his muzzle on so I didn't panic so much, but was embarrassed that he didn't stop. But he didn't bark or growl or anything at the other dogs, but was wagging his tail and greeted the other dogs happily which was amazing! Amazing for Snapper that is.
I hate having to muzzle him but I just can't take the chance of him biting. I'm so glad he has finally accepted the muzzle. I've been putting it on him every now and then trying to get him used to it, but he just deactivates when I put it on, refusing to move or even look up. Just yesterday he did this when I put it on him while out on our walk and he completely shut down, refusing to walk. But today was a breakthrough!
There are hundreds of different ways to train a dog, I know, I've googled it! Also, everyone you meet is an expert and gives you advice....a lot like when you have your first child. In the end I went with my instincts, after watching Snapper and how he reacted to things. I decided that the patient, gentle but firm route was the one to take with him. I felt like most of his acting out (what others call aggressiveness) was actually fear and not knowing how to react. I've no idea how he was treated in the past, and I don't want to guess or judge, but I don't think he was getting what he needed. Besides, I just don't believe that yelling, hitting and abusive behaviour will correct a bad or unwanted behaviour. Yes they need to know who's boss (Alpha), but you can do that without abusing them.
Here's a photo of my little buddy Snapper. I love having him around, he's such a sweetheart once you get to know him....about like me. ;-)
Just look at that face!

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