It was a hot one today. By about 5 pm the Behan’s outdoor thermometer read 100. One of the first things I said to Kevin this morning was how bad I felt for Trace since he’s a Siberian. Kevin’s response is included in the title. Today we worked Bella and Trace a lot. Bella is getting really good at down-stay which transitions well with heeling. I’m becoming more and more of a part of her flow pattern. I’m still working on technique: bottom line is to maintain contact and eliminate, or least maximally minimize, windows of opportunity for the focus to collapse (e.g. while working heeling).
As I have mentioned before rodents and such really attract my dogs. Bella has a low prey threshold, meaning it doesn’t take much resistance for her to bolt after prey. In NDT terms, her physical center of gravity is being pulled by/projected onto the prey object rapidly. I don’t think she would necessarily kill something on contact; she’d probably nip at it and then study closely. Trace on the other hand has a higher prey threshold and I wouldn’t put it past him if he would go after the big prey (we have a lot of deer in our neighborhood back home). It would take a little longer for him to act upon his PCoG projected onto the prey.
So, we were getting the dogs ready for our afternoon training session and both dogs encountered a cat and the pulling was on! Bella of course reacted first so we did some high collar technique with the box in order to absorb the charge of the cat. We got Bella grounded and she was able to lay collected on the ground as the cat walked by her. Never would have thought I’d see the day Bella would let a cat walk by her! Meanwhile, Trace was becoming more and more attracted to the cat to the point he was lunging forward and trying to twist out of his collar. We did the same high collar technique and he really got the stress/panic out. The most amazing thing was when we got Trace down off the box, mind you Bella is still laying collected on the ground, and Trace began to resonate with the cat. Kevin mentioned Trace went from prey instinct to prey drive, as evidenced by his collecting and tail-wagging as the cat hung around. So with both dogs, highly magnetized to the cat, we got them to channel the charge onto a path of higher resistance (the human) so that they could learnt o self-regulate into collection. Cats are now becoming part of the dogs’ context in which they choose not to chase the cat and instead settle themselves. Settling becomes akin to what its like to kill the cat and we get credit for it. So you have two calm dogs, one cat who gets to live, and a happy handler because he’s now the midpoint in that entire schema. As Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory would say, “Bazinga!”
The thing to keep in mind is that you are going to see new flow in chunks just as you are going to see old behavior in chunks. Over time the old static behavior will diminish as long as you stick with the training. With Bella, I am going against 5 years worth of unresolved emotion and with Trace seven years. But the rate of return of the training as it pertains to overcoming unresolved stress certain comes quicker than years and years of stress built up in the battery. As the pipe widens unresolved stress will come loose and rise to the surface: this is part of getting to that last .01% of the stress.