Throughout our day when uncomfortable situations arise, we avoid them at all costs.
You could be taking a relaxing walk with your dog and suddenly a frustrated dog leaps against a fence and barks angrily at you and your dog. It’s not nice. We don’t want to stay in that situation. Our response, most everyone’s (especially if you have a dog who pulls and barks back), is to do anything to simply get past and continue on. You pull the leash, walk faster, you know…
What we sometimes forget, is what a perfect training opportunity it is. Not just this one example, but any moment that you generally avoid at all costs. In this example with the dog leaping at the fence and barking, turn around and walk past him or her again and again and again. And again. Until your dog, at the very least, can walk past calmly. You’re safe, nothing can happen with the fence separating you. At most, you’re annoying the neighbors by continuously causing this dog to bark but hey, get the dog trained and he won’t bark anymore, right? It’s not your problem. Take advantage of it and teach your dog to walk past calmly.
The dog owners with misbehaved dogs in my neighborhood have grown to despise me. Why? Because I walk right towards them. That’s all. I don’t quickly turn in a different direction like the others. I walk past them, even if that means putting my own dog/s on a leash. It’s actually their loss. They could use these moments to improve the behavior of their dogs. But until they do, their dogs are perfectly horrible enough to help me train my dogs. I dream of the day when a person with a barking, lunging dog asks me, „Hey could we walk past each other one more time? I’m trying to teach him/her to behave.“
Why not ask that? In the end that’s all we want, yet most of us end up paying a dog school mountains of money just to practice walking past each other. Then avoid other dog owners in „real life“!
You see, if we always avoid these situations, our dogs will go crazy and completely misbehave when the situation arrises without you being able to avoid it.
The same applies to working with horses. If your horse spooks on a windy day, do this;
Look out your window on an especially windy day, the branches clacking against the glass, the trees swaying, the leaves fluttering, say, „What a perfect day to take my horse on a walk!“
Note: I said on a walk (like with a lead rope), not ride. Don’t face these situations without a trainer if you don’t feel safe/confident/capable!
At some point, your horse will be so used to those windy days that he or she won’t even blink when the trees make that swooshing sound. And your dog will calmly walk past all sorts of dogs because you took advantage of every training opportunity!
This post is also available in: English (Englisch)