Yesterday was Chucho’s first official training session. His first lesson was three commands – “sit”, “stay”, and “come” – and their corresponding hand gestures. Thanks to the work his owner has been doing with him on her own, Chucho has a reasonably good grasp of the “sit” command. Learning to come when called and learning to stay are a little more challenging. Marielle opted not to use a clicker as a reward tool; she is very busy, and she was worried she would put it down somewhere and end up losing track of it. So, we focused on appropriate physical and vocal rewards, as well as the odd food reward. Chucho responded very well to all three.
During the session, Chucho had a bit of a temper tantrum and began biting at the leash. Marielle did a good job of dealing with that, but then he started jumping and trying to bite her. Her body language became tense and nervous, and I immediately took the leash. Chucho has bitten her legs quite a lot and left significant bruises. I took the leash from her because his behavior was starting to escalate and I didn’t want her to get bitten. Chucho needed calm assertive energy while he vented out his own pent-up negative energy.
The vent-out lasted for about five minutes. During that time, Chucho jumped at me several times and tried to bite. Using only my energy – no sound at all – and keeping him at arm’s length so he couldn’t deliver a bite, I was able to allow him to go through the explosion, and then help him to become calm and more relaxed when he finally surrendered by dropping the leash from his mouth and leaving it alone. We all took a quick breather, and from that point on, we were able to work without any further interruptions.
Chucho did an excellent job, and so did Marielle. Marielle needs confidence-building exercises and assertiveness training, but those things will come as the work with Chucho progresses. For now, what matters is that she is doing her very best to help Chucho become happy and balanced. She loves him very much and she is committed to doing whatever she needs to do to make that happen.
When the training session was over and Chucho was released from the exercises, he showed Marielle how he felt. It was beautiful, and worth so much more than words can convey…
Have a great day, and remember to stay calm and lead on….