BACK TO BASICS
Every now and then we find that our dogs take a few pawsteps backwards. It isn’t unusual for this to happen with dogs that have problems, but it can be frustrating for owners. It’s often difficult to know why it’s happened, but in a way, the ‘why’ doesn’t really matter. All that matters is to understand that your dog is struggling a bit, and needs you to go back to basics to help her move forward again.
Lottie Staffie-dog has been with us for more than a year and a half, and has come on massively from the scared, tense wee girl that we first met. She’s gone through so many Backward Pawsteps that her family have probably lost count! But her owner knows her dog incredibly well, and does the same with her each time it happens: she tries not to focus on the disappointment she feels and asks herself exactly what Lottie needs right now.
It can be quite a challenge to do this. If your dog is at a stage where you can now walk it off-lead (as Lottie is, most of the time), has good recall and is now able to walk close to most dogs without reacting, it can be quite upsetting to find that she suddenly starts lunging at dogs again. Especially if it seems to happen for no apparent reason.
LET THE ‘WHY’ GO!
You could end up spending a long time worrying about why, but this won’t really help either of you. I think it’s good to shrug your shoulders, accept that she’s finding things difficult, and do what Lottie’s missis does: she takes her right back to basics for anything between a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on what Lottie needs. That means no walks for as long as she needs to recover from feeling stressed on walks again. Walking gets replaced with lots of playing Ping Pong Puppy in the garden and doing Brain Games indoors to keep her mind busy.
The most important part of what she does is being determined to take things very slowly, at Lottie’s pace. Each time, the ‘recovery period’ takes fewer days. If her Missis needs to take her Back to Basics, it takes a very short time, now, for Lottie to be back to her confident, happy self.
BOYS BEHAVING … DIFFERENTLY
Jasper and Jackson are learning the same strategies, and both boys have had a couple of sessions with us where they simply played Ping Pong Puppy just outside their homes. They got to sniff, ping about, and use their Thinking Brains for as long as they needed, so that they got some of their confidence back.
Slow pawsteps get where we need to go a lot faster than rushing dogs who need time.