Last night, I went to a DogSpeak seminar with Nashville dog trainer Nikki Ivey. I joined my friends Jake&Erin since they have been raving about Nikki since they hired her to help them work with their pups, Ollie and Darby.
Guys. Let me tell you. Nikki is awesome! I learned so much about how dogs interact with each other, as well as how they interact with humans. Most importantly, she was able to tell me how to I can help Claire with her fear when she is approached by another dog while on a leash. And to all those who commented/emailed/tweeted in response to that post, I thank you immensely! Nikki said that Claire is having trouble with this due to a lack of confidence. She agreed with those of you who said that I need to work with Claire to help her become more confident so that she can respond appropriately in this situation. But she also said that I need to be ready to protect her by avoiding and blocking if we're in an uncontrolled situation, especially because Claire is so fearful about this.
Jake&Erin and I took the dogs on a long hike this morning, so I had the opportunity to begin working with Claire. Whenever I saw another dog approaching with their owner, I watched Claire to make sure that I started praising her from the second she saw them. I continued to do this as they came closer. This communication let Claire know that everything was alright and that she was responding to them appropriately. We had six opportunities to work on this during our hike, and she did wonderfully five out of six times. The only time she got jumpy and growled was when we were passing some people with their dog while hiking up a steep hill on a narrow path; space got a little tight and it made Claire get a bit scared. I do have to say that I, too, was a little scared which probably contributed - I didn't have secure footing so I was a bit tense. All in all, though, the hike was an excellent start!
I'll let you all know how it goes as I keep working with Claire on this, as we still have a long way to go! In the meantime, go check out Nikki Ivey - call/email her, go to a seminar, sign up for a webinar, or have her come out to your house for a private training session. You will be astounded at all that you'll learn!