So the new big hit in the dog sport, behavior, and training world is Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt. It’s a book, and the author has also been doing seminars around the country. She is coming here to Salt Lake City, Utah, in October of this year. She started her program by teaching classes to humans and their dogs in order to help the dogs calm down, focus, and work smarter.
I am reading her book. She has a lot of good points. There is a lot of trouble in the dog sport world, especially in agility now, where dogs are pretty darn wild and out of control. They don’t focus very well, and they have been coined ‘train wrecks’ a time or two. This can be dangerous, too. Especially if a dog falls off the dog walk in uncontrolled haste to get to the other end. Or the A-Frame, or flies off the teeter unsafely. In agility, not only do we want speed, we want control and accuracy. A balance of these things are critical for a fun, safe sport.
Anyway, so I have been taking Muffit to some dog events to get him used to the situations. However, he is very overstimulated. He is frantic. Especially when he sees other dogs. He doesn’t pay much attention to me, and he’s quite unable to focus on anything but the other dogs. He is nice to them, he just wants to say hi to all of them. And when there are 80+ dogs there, that’s pretty impossible.
So I’m about half way through Control Unleashed. I guess I don’t really get the passive exercises. Either that, or I find them boring. But the theory is, as I understand it, to teach the dog to be able to relax and be calm. Because a calm dog can think. And learn. And then transport this calmness to other situations.
So Muffit and I sat on our mat today and I stroked him, rubbed his ears, and did some TTouch on him. He relaxed and seemed to like it. Then we got up and did some sits and downs and shakes, things he knows really well. He did get pretty excited when he was doing these and would paw at me and be cute. And I know he loves to learn and clicker train, and I really want to give that to him, too. So I’m not sure if I should practice calming exercises and teach him things in the same training session, or different training sessions. But I really, really don’t want to stop clicker training him. He works just fine at home, he is learning the jump for flyball, and the spring over and back over the jump, and he likes it. And he’s not frantic.
I guess it’s hard for me to see moving the calming exercises from inside the boring house, to outside. If we do this and get good at it, then i move outside… if a dog walks by he still, I think, will get frantic. I’m not sure. But if he does get frantic, we would go inside (remove him from the situation) and then do some calming exercises to calm him down again. And see what distance he can take from another dog before he gets too excited, barking and jumping and pulling at the leash. Then always keep him under that threshold.
I will try this and see what happens. I’m impatient, I will admit it, and want quicker results than this. So I’m asking lots of opinions on what I should do with Muffit. I want him to be happy and calm and well adjusted. Which he is not.. yet. He is happy and calm at well adjusted at home, and he does love walks, but the stimulating environments of flyball and agility are a bit much for him… as a border collie he has a lot of energy, and I will work with that. And I think he has some Australian Shepherd in him, too. It’s sad that we got this broken dog we now have to fix. And he’s about five years old. Poor guy. but we’ll fix him up, no doubt!
He’s different from the collies. I’m glad that Tatum, although she’s frightened in new situations, she is not frantic and she’s pretty much able to think.
Like I have said in the past, it’s really hard for me to learn from a book. But I will try. And I will keep talking to people about all this, too.