I so love sharing personal stories so this week I am sharing one again 🙂 I was thinking about my past dog, Shadow, today. She was an amazing dog and taught me so much. Her anxiety was sky high for many years of her life. In fact, I actually removed her from dog agility because it ampt her up so much that she would whine all the way there in the car and then bark almost continuously through class. It didn’t stop there. She also whined frequently at home. Laying down and being quiet could be extremely difficult for her. When it was time for a walk she would whine much as well. I wanted to help her so I taught her how to relax. As she learned to relax I learned as well. Not surprisingly I had anxiety too. Learning to relax is healthy for the immune system and for the entire body health wise.
When I got Seiki, the dog I own now, I treated him a bit differently. He barked at soo many stimuli when I received him. Because I love dog sports and because Seiki was a high energy border collie I was eager to start flyball with him. Flyball is like a dog relay race sport. I refrained from joining immediately. Instead I took time to teach him to be quiet with many stimuli on walks and when he was in the yard before joining flyball. When we joined flyball I also taught him to be quiet while he saw other dogs barking and running the course. This was important for me because I wanted him to learn how to be relaxed. I believe being highly aroused and having fun is fabulous for dogs. I also agree it is important for them to learn the other end of the spectrum as well. My opinion is a healthy dog knows how to go both ways. I am still amazed that my border collie is so quiet on my flyball team. However, I realize he learned this.
The point of this tip is to remember if you want a more calm dog you have to help him learn how to do this. It is best to teach him to do this before you join any dog sports. After he learns to be calm, he will generalize this calm behavior faster and more easily into the environment of the dog sport.
Johanna Teresi, Professional Trainer and Owner of Four Legged Scholars LLC