Oh how cute this little boy is!
Flame is now 14 months old. When he was a puppy I took him to the pub, he socialised with other dogs and then he hit adolescence and become very barky. At EVERYTHING. Noises, people, dogs, LIFE.
I had three other dogs in lockdown and they hadn't been exposed to the above and are the easiest dogs ever. Was lockdown an influence on dog behaviour. I don't believe so, I believe that those three collies in lockdown grew the confidence they needed, the skills they needed in order to cope with life when it opened back up. Flame however mustn't of had the right skills in order to cope with traditional socialisation. Do I regret what I did, no. I learn from him and make sure I socialise my dogs the way that I have with the other five.
With Flame I have been working on disengagement (coming away from things that are valuable or worrying) and a dimmer switch (him being able to manage his arousal levels and having an appropriate response to distractions).
Is he perfect? No, Does he still bark? Yes
However, the time is right to open his world up. I shrunk it whilst working on the above as he didn't have the capabilities of focusing and coping previously. Now he knows the strategies as though they are a muscle reflex, something that is only trained in easy, non distracting environments.
Tip 1 - practice practice practice disengagement games for example throw one piece of food out, when he looks back say yes and feed feed feed in the opposite direction. Once he has that and can do it easily, start to add your distractions in at a distance.
Tip 2- Recall is so important- When your dog is off lead, you don't want them running and chasing people, dogs, bikes etc.
Tip 3- Practice how you are going to work around distractions- they will appear, that dog and owner will be there. What are you going to do? Can you get your dog on lead fast and walk past?
Tip 4- Help your dog calm down after a walk. Walk can be pretty hard for naughty but nice dogs. Bring a kong for after your walk, scatter feed some food in their crate when they get home or stay with them until they settle. Dogs should have rest after their walk they need some down time to recover and process what has happened on their walks.
Tip 5- asking yourself is this situation growing my dog in the right direction? If not, change it up. If they aren't ready for walks- don't put them in that situation. You will only set your dog back.