It’s been a while since I’ve written about our journey together but we have been steadily making progress over the last few months.
I was out with him this afternoon and wanted to write down some of the process I have been using with him. The amount of time Logan is with me mentally, emotionally and phusically based on his observable body language vaires depending on what else is going on in the environment. Observable criteria are how much time he spends looking at me, how much he is interested in the food I have, how easily or readily he moves with me when I move off. There are 4 broad categories to this. These are my definitions, you may have your own
- He is not with me at all
- He is not with me but searching/scenting/trailing the ground
- He is scenting on the ground around me and will generally move in the direction I am travelling
- He is fully engaged with me, seeking food reinforcement.
There is also variations within each of these as number 1 can vary between him holding himself in position watching (usually another dog) and running around barking (usually when he is really struggling and doesn’t know what else to do)
There are differences in his body language between the image above and below. If you were to look at them on there own, in which one would you say he is more likely to move with me? Noticing the subtle changes in his body gives me information about what I am going to do next. He is not really with me, or connected to me in either of these photos.
In the image below he is moving with me and scenting on the ground. Scenting at the park is good. If he is sniffing in the presence of other dogs, then I know he is more relaxed than if he is watching them. If I was to move away in the picture below, he is very likely to follow me or to migrate in that direction. We would be moving together, which is cool and desired.
Image below, he’s “with me, with me”. Looking at me, engaged and I am able to ask him to do simple, well practiced behaviours.
Today we were out at the park for around 40 minutes. It was relatively busy but we were able to work at decent distances from other dogs. At this stage, and for a while to come yet, I am really relaxed about what I expect of him. The goal is to have him either scenting the ground for long periods when we are out, or both scenting the ground and enagaging with me when I ask him to. I try to be aware as much as I can that this is his walk and his journey. The objective is calm, relaxed behaviour for the whole (or as much as possible) time we are outside. With this in mind, I do everything I know how and am able to do to help him reach that objective. It helps keep me patient.
In the clip above, you can see him searching the ground for food and looking at the dogs. Look at the quality of how he is looking at the dogs. Relaxed or alert? How easily does he go from one to the other. Is the searching frantic or relaxed?
Lastly, I am also aware of the reasons for him being able or unable to behave at a certain level. Is he eyeballing the dogs because he has just arrived and needs to settle in to his session or can he not concentrate on what I am asking him to do because we are reaching his limit. I have to be mindful of all of these things all the time.
Please think about how you can apply some of these concepts to your own dog.
More to come, thanks for reading and your continued interest in our journey together.