Continuing our efforts to help calm Koko, I took her to the vet and discussed some options, specifically training recommendations. A large noisy group class wasn’t the best idea for her, not with her anxiety, but personal trainers are $$$. Her #1 recommendation was Bark Busters. They were running a Christmas special, so I was able to get both KC and Koko training for the same price, with a lifetime guarantee.
That means they will come to our house, as many times as we need, for no additional cost, for the lifetime of both dogs. Even if we move out of the state. Of course it’s a hefty one time fee, but I’m able to make payments and I’ve already MORE than gotten the training for the $$, just in two visits, using the $100-150/hour rate we were quoted elsewhere.
Actually, the training is for US not the dogs. We just need to know how to help her.
So far, our trainer has come to the house twice, for almost 5 hours of training. The first time, we worked mostly with Koko, in her crate, on a leash, and free. She barked and barked and barked at the Strange Man. None of his techniques would calm her for long. He’d move, and she’d go nuts again. Forget him even touching her leash — let alone her.
However, when he pulled out the spray bottle and gave it to me, we finally had a breakthrough and she quit that mean barking. One good pop of spray in the face was all it took. The second time I missed, but it still shook her out of her barking rage.
Today, my Dad came over to watch. Koko has a hate hate relationship with him and always barks at him, even though he kept her for two weeks while I went to the home office last fall. This time, she barked at him. No surprise. I escalated using our trainer’s techniques and ended up popping her once with the spray bottle.
Not another bark.
She even came over after awhile and laid down between us and let him pet her. (Usually she just paces and paces when he’s over.)
Then the trainer came by and she did bark at him some, but we were able to correct her immediately. We practiced several different techniques and really, the heart of her issue became clear to me. If there’s a stranger in the house, she watches them with single-minded focus. One of the exercises required her to look up to me and make eye contact before she got the treat…and she wouldn’t do it. She wouldn’t take her eyes off the Strange Men in the house.
So this week, I’ll be working on getting her attention on me. He gave me several attentive exercises to practice with her that will hopefully help. The barking is better, but she’s still afraid and nervous. It is an improvement, though, and I’m encouraged that there’s hope. As soon as the weather breaks, I’ll be walking her a LOT. I need it and so does she.
But she ended up on her leash with the Strange Man leading her around. She wouldn’t ever get in front of him – because she wanted to keep an eye on him! But he was able to get much closer to her without her sounding like Cujo. It’s a start!