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Billy No Mates no more

Discussion in 'Dog Chat' started by MerlinsMum, Jun 25, 2010.


  1. MerlinsMum

    MerlinsMum PetForums VIP

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    May I present - Merlin's new friends!

    He has gone from being 'Billy No Mates' to Mister Popular within the space of a week.

    He's always been reactive with other dogs (since his nuts dropped) but a combination of a Mekuti Harness and a new training technique (the Look At That game) has transformed him.

    Plus finding out that an old school classmate lives round the corner from me - so we met up with her dog and her friend's dog, and we have daily playdates now.

    Also last night I finally introduced him to my friend Luke's rescue Boxer, Hooch who came over from Ireland in January looking like a skeleton with a heap of issues, and Luke has slowly slowly turned him around into what a young 12-18mth Boxer should look & be like. He is now a stunning boy! But I was very wary of introducing him to Merlin as I felt he was the worst kind of dog for a reactive dog to meet - Boxers are like Zebedee on speed for most of their lives especially when teenagers!

    But we walked together last night late, on the beach and I was astounded at Merlin who was being the mature, sensible dog (!!) and stopping Hooch's exuberant pestering with just a turn of his head, a little calming signal or a low growl once or twice. So proud of him!

    Nuff words, you want pictures? :thumbup: None of Hooch yet but watch this space!

    Linda, Jake, Helen (old school friend) and Merlin. Harvey (Helen's dog) disappearing bottom left!
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    Jake being the centre of attention
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    Merlin and Jake on the beach yesterday, heading for France (probably)
    [​IMG]

    Two weeks ago, Jake could not swim. Harvey still won't! despite being in the minority now.
    [​IMG]
     
  2. sequeena

    sequeena PetForums VIP

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    Yay for Merlin!! What lovely pictures, I'm so happy for you! :thumbup:
     
  3. xxbailliexx

    xxbailliexx PetForums Member

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    what gorgeous dogs :), they looked like they were having a great time :D
     
  4. DKDREAM

    DKDREAM PetForums VIP

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    way to go Merlin :thumbup:
     
  5. sue&harvey

    sue&harvey PetForums VIP

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    Go merlin... Lovely boy, looks like he had a whale of a time :thumbup:
     
  6. Tanya1989

    Tanya1989 PetForums VIP

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    Well done. Persistence really pays off :)
     
  7. MerlinsMum

    MerlinsMum PetForums VIP

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    Thank you :D
    Not so much persistence but finding what works (persistence was needed there though). Firstly, identifying his stressors... then keeping him away from them as much as possible for a couple of months, even if it meant not taking him out.
    Then changing to a Mekuti harness, which really helped (was previously on a Halti which I feel may made him feel too constrained and stressed, no fight or flight option.
    And learning the Look At That game from Control Unleashed which, as he is already used to a clicker, worked straight away.
    Meeting the new mates was co-incidental, only a couple of weeks after starting with the Mekuti and LAT, but something's working :)

    Although it has to be said he frightened the life out of a Golden Retriever yesterday - muzzle is still on for quite a bit of time.
    The GR prounced up to him giving it The Big I Am, tail held straight up in the air, head high, more ego than Simon Cowell - now that is not something Merlin likes muchly.... he does not take fools gladly.......

    GR was last seen streaking for the hills after Merlin went for him, gave him a good muzzle-bashing and then tried to hump him! :lol:

    So we still have some work to do...... :rolleyes:
     
  8. rona

    rona Guest

    Well done, going to be mixing with all and sundry soon :D
     
  9. Fleur

    Fleur Vassal to Lilly and Ludo

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    Fantastic - you and Merlin should be proud of yourselves :thumbup:

    Gorgeous pictures, lovely to see Merlin hanging out with his friends :)
     
  10. tafwoc

    tafwoc PetForums VIP

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    Lovely pics, and Merlin is stunning! Good news hun, keep up the good work.
     
  11. Mum2Heidi

    Mum2Heidi PetForums VIP

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    Well done, you must be really pleased.

    I was the numpty who thought your thread referred to the flea treatment - Billy no mates so took a while to catch on :lol:
     
  12. Johnderondon

    Johnderondon PetForums VIP

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    Well done, Merlin.
     
  13. dodigna

    dodigna PetForums VIP

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    That is brilliant news Sue! It's all moving in the right direction now, really happy you found the right combination! Well done to the both of you!
     
  14. pika

    pika PetForums VIP

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    Nice one Merlin :thumbup:
     
  15. CarolineH

    CarolineH PetForums VIP

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    What you have done reminds me so much of what Angela Stockdale would have advised. (I went on a weekend workshop of hers once and it was fantastic) She demonstrated what a difference it makes to a reactive dog if a harness is put on instead and a long line used. The dog can then utilise it's own body language to help destress itself and to convey it's real feelings to others. (A headcollar or neck collar restricts a dog like that too much.) She would also advise owners to take time out from walking their dogs, put them on house arrest for a few weeks (it doesn't kill them!) and work on bonding with them during that time through playing games and teaching new exercises such as the 'Look at me when I speak' game etc. (I call it Watch Me) So, rather than flooding the dog with what triggers its' problem behaviour, it gets a rest from it and time to recuperate. Trying to get owners to understand and appreciate the aims of doing that is however, a lot harder as they insist on thinking like humans and take a while to see the logic, lol!:rolleyes:

    Anyway, well done Sue and Merlin! :thumbup:
     
  16. dobermummy

    dobermummy Banned

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    way to go merlin :thumbup:
     
  17. MerlinsMum

    MerlinsMum PetForums VIP

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    Now that is interesting. Firstly, the keeping the dog in - my confidence had gone rather a lot anyway due to the nasty teenagers (which were yet another stressor, as if I didn't have enough!) plus other personal issues which were affecting my health, so he had been on minimal exercise for months anyway.

    I did have a behaviourist come in (APBC/COAPE) in April, who recommended he didn't experience any of his stressors for at least two weeks before she came. So he was kept at home for 2 weeks and no, it didn't kill him but that might be why my neighbours upstairs complained to the council about him barking (never said anything to me though but I would have explained, had they done so, the sneaky gits) as - like any bored understimulated dog - every tiny noise outside became something to remark on.

    Behaviourist mainly said he needed to learn to loose-lead walk first and to teach him Watch me! games, recommending some training from her other half (the APDT trainer).

    At the time, I was just getting in some recommended books for studying which included Stress In Dogs, Calming Signals, and Control Unleashed.

    I'm not sure why I dug the unused Mekuti out of the cupboard but I'm glad I did! I think you are spot-on about the language part. Plus my own intuition about him feeling too contrained, no flight option, leading him to react so much to other dogs, even on the other side of the road.

    Straighforward WatchMe! wasn't really working. But the Look At That! from CU did, almost straight away, with the Mekuti. He's already clicker trained so his natural reaction when he hears a click is to snap his head round to me looking for his treat. Which is all it needs to interrupt any potential reactive behaviour.... works like magic.

    My problem with traditional Watch Me! was that it wasn't enough to interrupt his behaviour. Previously I had tried showering him with yummy treats every time we saw a dog but he would start to stress and ignore the treats. A dog up on two legs lunging and snarling at the full extent of his lead - however long or loose - is not thinking about his stomach!

    With the LAT game, he gets the treats (=eventual positive association with seeing other dogs) and the reactive behaviour hardly ever gets a chance to surface as I now have a working interruptor. He's not perfect, but a heck of a lot better. If I'm not keeping my eyes open for skateboards, rollerskates and large big-ego'd dogs (plenty of all round here!) then he does sometimes 'explode' BUT I have managed to get him out of reacting to skateboards this week several times using LAT which was impossible before - even the sight of a skateboard being carried was enough.

    I started clicker training with him the day I got him at 9 weeks, so that one little sound is so clearly imprinted in his mind, it overrides anything else.
     
    #17 MerlinsMum, Jun 26, 2010
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2010
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