Out in the backyard with Tessa two days ago, I finally redirected her saber-rattling-wild-and-crazy barking-and-fence-chasing on her side as one of my neighbors walked by with his wire-haired Jack Russell terrier that did his in-your-face terrier-prance at the end of a flexi-leash … yards away from my neighbor and achingly close to Tessa but still out-of-reach.
I “get” that Tessa’s behavior is reactive and I “get” how that whole dog-at-the-end-of-a-leash frenzy thing works too. I “get” that my very nice neighbor is totally clueless about flexi-leashes even as I watch him fumble with the mechanism that will retract the yards of wire leash, thus bringing his beyond excited little dog back to him.
Which doesn’t work.
This little scenario happens Every Single Time my neighbor walks by my house if Tessa and I are outside. You’d think that my neighbor would consider moving to the opposite sidewalk – so that he and his doggie entourage could enjoy the relative tranquility of walking by three houses Where There Are No Dogs … where there have been no dogs in the 20 plus years that I’ve lived in this neighborhood.
So you’d think. But it never happens.
Rather than curse out my neighbor for his lack of understanding, I vow to use this as a Training Opportunity whenever I can. For Tessa and me.
I decide that my goal is to break through Tessa’s Absolute Focus on that small dog and get her to re-direct her focus onto me. And, I’m not shy about using what I know will attract her attention. Treats. Lots of yummy treats.
We got our chance over the weekend.
As Tessa explodes into her Wild Antics, complete with every hair on her backside standing tall, non-stop barking and faster-than-weave-pole-agility-speed as she flies from one end of my side yard to the other, I stand slightly behind her well-worn path, rattle my treat bag and say her name. Sharply.
And, I keep my own energy calm.
Tessa makes two faster-than-a-speeding-bullet charges past me. The third time I say her name, she looks up. At me. She turns in mid-flight, ending up in a sit at my feet.
She SO wants to not be sitting because at this point, THAT dog is still charging my fence. But. Bless Tessa’s heart, she holds that sit as she keeps looking at me.
All of THIS happens in less than 4 minutes. And, as you might imagine, it is a VERY Big Deal.
It will be a VERY Big Deal the next time it happens too. And, I’ll be ready. I’m almost looking forward to it. [gplus count=”true” size=”Medium” ]