Barley has endeared herself to most of the human neighbors in our new neighborhood. She's also done a fantastic job of dealing with the many, many dogs we see on our walks. (It's a good thing my GPS watch doesn't talk or it would probably ask if I'm drunk since we crisscross the street so many times!)
Our new fence has created a need for us to return to the basics, though. Three sides of our fence are 6-foot tall vinyl panels, so Barley can't see out and other dogs can't see in. This was a very strategic decision--I knew that if Barley saw the little dog a couple houses down staring at her from behind its chain link fence, she'd lose all focus on whatever we were doing in the yard (relaxing, agility training, fetch) and she might even consider jumping the fence to get to it--and once she knew she could jump her fence, there'd be nothing to keep her from jumping its fence. I've never been particularly graceful, so a future that might involve jumping over 4-foot chain link fences to grab my dog wasn't all that appealing to me. A solid fence seemed to make the most sense for Barley's needs.
The fourth side of the fence, though, belongs to our other neighbors who have two very large (and very sweet) rottweilers. The girls have been very friendly with me when I've met them without Barley, but when Barley and I go out, it sounds like we live next to Jurassic Park (which my sister pointed out for us)--there's grunting, snuffling, snorting, and a variety of other prehistoric sounds mixed in with the occasional bark. The fence is a shadowbox fence, so they can see each other from certain angles, but not well. The fence is also several inches off the ground (according to the fence company, some people think it's easier to use a weedeater that way, but they assure me that's not true), so until I figure out how to block that off on our side, there's room for a pointy Barley nose to fit under the fence.
On leash or tethered to a tree, Barley paid very little attention to them. I could furminate her (which always requires frequent treating anyway) or give her a Kong filled with goodies and we could spend plenty of time in the yard. When I'd take her out for potty breaks, she might glance their way, but a quick "leave it" would be all she needed.
|Someone's barking? I didn't notice.|
But I was fairly certain off-leash would be a bigger issue. After all, she can walk perfectly beside her cousin on leash, but the second the leash comes off, she wants to eat him.
I made sure that Barley's first fence experience was positive by waiting until the dogs next-door went inside before letting her out to explore.
Later that day, the dogs came out while we were in the yard and as soon as they barked, Barley was locked in on their side of the fence and snapping at them. She was uninterested in me or treats, so we had to go back inside so I could come up with our plan for training through this.
We'll be going back to the basics of her reactive dog training when the neighbors are out. There will be plenty of work done on-leash to reestablish that I'm still in charge even if there are dino-dogs on the other side of the fence. Most of this will be different versions of the "it's your choice" game--so expect to see lots of pictures of Barley in the yard on a leash with treats on her paws in the near future. (We also have to do this for agility anyway since she's been choosing to ignore me and go where she wants more and more lately, so going back to basics will have lots of benefits.) We'll be revisiting our relaxation protocol and mat work in the yard to help remind her that it's ok to relax in the yard--even if you think a t-rex is about to crash through the fence. We'll also be working on different heeling patterns, especially ones that take us near that side of the fence and reinforce the decision to turn away from it.
We'll start all of this on her 6-foot leash that was use for all of our walks, but eventually as she becomes more confident and consistent in the behaviors we need, we'll move to her 10-foot long lead to get a little more distance work in. Some day, hopefully, we'll be able to work up to doing all of this off-leash in the yard.
Until then, we'll be checking out the window before opening the back door and then taking advantage of every opportunity we have with no dino-dogs outside to romp and play and enjoy our newly fenced yard.
|Hey look! No Leash!|
We're linking up with Cascadian Nomads, Tenacious Little Terrier, and Rubicon Days for the Positive Pet Training blog hop that starts the first Monday of each month and runs all week. For some reason, the code isn't cooperating tonight, be sure to check out all of the other great blogs participating by visiting the hosts' pages (and I'll keep trying to get it to work here!) to see what other training goals everyone's working on!