I haven’t had a chance to write anything during last week for several reasons. First, the weather has deteriorated and, as I am staying with the dogs in a makeshift accommodation without heating, I succumbed to a cold. Secondly, my husband joined me after several weeks apart. This meant that we spent far more time just being a family than doing any formal training. We have visited a few places together, including Biskupin, where Falka learnt how bronze age settlement looks like and more importantly, met some horses for the first time in her life.
Over the last weeks I have started to get to know her a little bit more. Of course I know that we shouldn’t compare dogs, but it’s hard not to notice the differences!
Falka is definitely more gentle than Yarpen was at her age. I am using the common method of “yelping” when she mouths too hard and she actually seems to care! It’s surprising to me, as with Yarpen it didn’t seem to have any effect, in fact it maybe wound him up even more! So mouthing training is going pretty smoothly. That of course doesn’t mean that my forearms are not covered in scratchmarks!
I tried to teach Yarpen to completely avoid contact of his teeth with human skin. Now I am trying to teach Falka that this can be accepted, but only if she is very gentle. She is already understanding it when we play, but sometimes forgets herself when she switches between a toy and my hand, or other dog and me.
She is also much more.. of a girl 😉 If she gets scared of Yarpen, she seeks protection in my arms, or between my legs. Yarpen is not to blame here, he is as gentle as he can be considering he is a goofy tank, with little body awareness. Unfortunately, Falka got scolded a little too harshly by another adult BRT and now seems scared whenever he wants to playfully chase her. They do play tug of war though (well, Yarpen holds the toy and she pulls!) and this might actually work for us (and our neighbours!), as it stops Yarpen’s yapping (he looooves to bark when playing…).
When it comes to new experiences, it helps enormously to have Yarpen with us whenever we “socialise”. She follows his lead and whenever it gets a bit too much for her, she physically seeks shelter between his legs (which of course I want to avoid, as this would mean that we are close to flooding). She is not a completely fearless puppy, but what is more important to me, she recovers extremely well and fast. For example, when we first met horses, initially she hid between Yarpen’s legs, then after about 10s came out to sit next to my right side, when my left hand was stroking the horses. She was still a bit unsure, so we stood there for about 1.5 – 2 mins just talking to the groom about the horses, during which time I fed her some treats and then we left. Similarly with a bunch of workmen. She was happy to meet everyone up to that point, but for some reason the workers wearing uniforms (and perhaps a little too happy…) trying to call her over, did not seem too appealing to her. We stopped and I rewarded her every time she turned her attention from them to me. In the meantime I talked to the guys and gently moved towards them. We stopped at about 5-6m distance and, when I was sure that she was comfortable, we left.
One of the challenges I did not expect is resource guarding from other dogs. She is very relaxed with my hands near her food, but unfortunately, she got into a few sticky situations with my parents’ foxterier, Pusia. I would actually feel more comfortable if she was guarding food from me, as this would be much easier to solve. I do hope that after we move to Scotland and she will only interact with Yarpen who is extremely gentle and non-possessive around food, she will understand that there is no need to feel threatened. If it won’t come naturally, we will have to schedule a few controlled sessions, where we will show her that another dog next to her bowl means that something even tastier is coming.
This coming week we will start our journey back home, to Scotland. After we get back and my family duties are finished, I will have far more time for Falka and Yarpen, and many things will change for the little rascal!