With each behaviour consult I see how much Buddy the Manchester Terrier has grown in confidence. His teammate puts a lot of effort into his recovery from reactivity. I’m always impressed by their progress.
For Buddy to overcome is fears he needs coping skills. It’s not enough for him to simply ignore the scary things, or feel OK around them. So, he is learning to use various behaviours that can encourage safer interactions with other dogs and help him feel more in control in general.
His human is also learning how and when to cue those behaviours. And the most challenging part – when to allow Buddy more time to process what he’s experiencing before helping him out. The dog/childs guardians hardest job of letting the vulnerable being make their own decisions based on what you’ve taught them while being ready to step in before they fall.
This session was particularly interesting for us as we watched Buddy allow Chester to raid his enrichment game without any disapproval. Chesters sudden approach was clearly surprising but with a few steps out the way he was comfortable again.
Buddy took the decision to move away, he averted gaze and remained relax. It was a bit of a breakthriugh moment to watch him allow Chester to share. Buddy didn’t feel the need to run away or aggressively assert a boundary. There was no tension or subtle cues for fear. It was clear he is now open to trusting Chester, which goes to show his progress. In our last session Buddy told Chester off for approaching his cardboard boxes. This week we saw Buddy feeling tolerant enough to share.
As he was doing so well, I added a little more pressure by asking Chester to run away from me, around a nearby cone and return. The movement was parallel with Buddy, had Chester been running directly towards Buddy that would have been too much too soon.
This fast-paced and seemingly sudden movement could signal that Chesters behaviour is less predictable. As Chester was moving away from me he may appear to be under less control, potentially causing Buddy to prepare for conflict. Buddy’s arousal levels rose but not so much that he could not handle the stress. He was visibly alert and began to puff his cheeks. He gave a cough-Bark, continued to assess further and his teammate cued him to use his safe learnt behaviours, which he did with success.
At that point we stopped, enjoyed some sniffing and walked parallel around the green to end the session. Buddy was feeling so self assured that he attempted to walk right beside Chester. He is ready to make friends! So, it’s time to bring in another stooge dog to continue practising these fabulous skills with unknown dogs, while creating more positive dog-dog experiences for him.
Well done team Buddy!