“Slow and steady wins the race.” A life lesson about being patient – and a key component to training or rehabilitating any animal. Where Lacey and her barking is concerned, combined with silence and a clicker, patience is the only tool that has been successful. Oh, she loves the food rewards, but at the end of the day, the only thing that has any lasting impact on her is patience, silence, and the clicker. Thank the universe for whoever invented that tiny but powerful tool.
Yesterday, our trainer came over for Glimmer’s weekly lesson. Lacey responded as she usually does – she barked her face off. But unlike previous times, this time, the duration was shorter, and the sound of the clicker almost instantly stopped the high, ear-splitting pitch that occurs when she loses control and becomes hysterical and unable to stop herself. She still barked, but it wasn’t the same as it’s been up to now.
Lacey is a dog who barks the moment you use sound to make a correction or give a command. It’s like putting two humans together who are having an argument, and one is yelling at the top of their lungs. With Lacey, the only things that work with her are silence, hand gestures, body language, energy, and a clicker. And patience. Lots and lots of calmness and patience. To work with a dog like Lacey, one must have the patience of the gods and a will that rivals that of Atlas himself.
I had hoped to teach Lacey appropriate barking, but at this stage of things, that is not going to happen. She must first learn how to deal with things quietly and calmly before she can be taught when and how to use her voice. She has been with me for 15 days, now, and she’s only just starting to learn control. To truly help her – and this is just for the barking issue – she would need to remain with me for a minimum of at least three months.
Lacey will be going home some time next week. Between now and then, I have to achieve nothing less than a miracle with her. Then, when she goes home, I have to introduce her to the new baby and teach her that she’s still at the bottom of the pack hierarchy. She’s been doing a really good job of accepting her place here with us, but that might not carry over when she goes home. So, not only do I have to ensure that she understands that the rules in my house apply at her house, too, I also have to ensure that her humans follow and practice those rules the same way so that she has consistency and stability.
Today’s weather is going to be really hot again, so working outdoors will not be an option. It’s not even 7:30am, and the temperature is already uncomfortable. We’ll be working indoors, instead. It’s going to be an interesting day.
Have a great day, everyone, and remember: Stay calm, and lead on.