Monday, May 08, 2006

Black Dog Phobia

We went lure coursing this weekend. Wyatt fouled out of his first run for some really blatant fouls. I always had trouble with him racing and eventually gave up trying to train him to run clean. However, for some reasons, he seemed to be find with coursing. He must have run clean 10-15 times without incident. I thought perhaps the stress of being boxed and the close quarters of racing overstimulated him. So I was disappointed but not too surprised when he fouled out coursing. I thought that this day might come.

Thinking about it more, I noticed that one of the fouls (I could not see all of them) involved a black dog. Later that night, we had a black lab over the house and Wyatt was very reactive with this dog. He often is with black labs. I tried working with him and the lab by walking them together on leash through the woods. That worked well. He seemed to calm down and relax around the lab. I believe, from observation, that the reaction is about fear and protection. He is afraid of the black lab and also wants to warn/protect us from the dog as well. He would get reactive again the closer we got to the house and especially inside the house with the most reaction in our living space. Thinking back, I remember some other fouls in the past that involved black dogs.

This could be related to incidents I have had in the neighborhood with local black labs whose owners walk them off leash in violation of the local leash law. They also do not have voice control over their dogs and they have sometimes charged us aggressively. When we first got Wyatt, he slipped out of his leash and I lost him for a while when a black lab approached. Although things are better now, I wonder if some of these early experiences and my own reaction may have contributed to this phobia.

Although I have learned a great deal about training a dog for dog/human activities, I don't know much about how to address dog to dog issues. Certainly, walking on leash together worked well but I wonder what other techniques could be used. Wyatt is usually fine away from the house but I wonder if improving his dog issues would also help us in agility and obedience where I believe his dog stress is the main cause of his ring nerves (again, much better than it used to be but still could be better.)

I put Wyatt in singles on Sunday and he tied for first which was nice. I am happy to run him in singles and practice him at races but I think it would be good to work on these dog/dog issues. I just wish there was 1/10 the amount of info as there is for dog/human training.

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