One of those epic dog training learning lessons happened last night. Being a trainer, I always feel embarrassed to admit when I have issues with my own dogs. Why? Who knows. No dog is perfect and I should be proud of their many accomplishments.
Roo (far right in photo) has begun resource guarding and last week got into a fight with Ava (far left of photo) because Ava walked past her bowl while Roo was eating. Ava and Roo are litter mates and really go for the gold when they tussle, similar to human siblings. There was blood and limping for a few days after.
When Roo eats she takes her sweet time crunching every morsel. Lucky and Ava are gobblers. This is a recipe for disaster. Roo is always the last eating. I had always separated their bowls during meal time because Roo would always bear teeth at the other two dogs. But Roo's guarding has gotten progressively worse over time. Guarding toys, spaces, and people.
Last night I talked to my mentor, Jamie, about the escalating problem. I also signed up for an eight week class with Roo. Jamie said that I created the guarding by always having Ava and Roo's bowls at a 10' distance, and Lucky inside altogether. She said I should have their bowls directly next to each other. The thought of this spiked my anxiety. I asked her how to accomplish this, when if Ava just looks at Roo when close to the bowl, Roo goes for the throat and Ava doesn't turn down a fight. Jamie took the time to explain the process in detail, and fed her pack and a new puppy that is with her for board-and-train right then, to teach me the proper way.
Well, 6:30 this morning, I was scared. My husband asks, "Are you prepared, in case there is a fight?" I was. But I kept positive, determined that there was not going to be one (even though my mind was racing expecting it). I know that my body language has to tell my pack a different story. I had Roo on a leash just in case.
Jamie recommended Ava and Lucky "down, stay" after they eat and wait for Roo to finish. I thought it would be way easier just to let them gobble and wander off. Sigh.
The photo is of me, so excited and proud. 10 minutes in, I realized we were in the clear! Everything went just as Jamie said it would (if I followed instruction exactly). WOW! Another huge round of applause to Jamie. I know that many other trainers would have recommended shocking the dogs to get them to stop. This is another testament to her unorthodox methods of training. That are not hard on the dog.