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Boom Boom, Chaka laka laka boom

Chaka is such a special boy to me, he came to the centre as a very reactive dog who did not tolerate being touched, let alone handled. With lots of help from the staff and the volunteers he started to get used to people coming into his run to spend time with him and Penny. However, getting him to stand still to put fly repellent on his ears was, nearly impossible. Until a good friend and trainer, Manuella Rowlings said the following to me: “When a dog has more control over a situation, it becomes a lot less scary for them.” That sentence had a huge impact on how I approach any type of training with a dog, especially a fearful and suspicious dog.   Now let’s get one thing straight, giving a dog more control over the situation does not mean that your dog will take control over your household and your family. I’ll give you two scenarios and you can decide for yourself. I can very easily, charge into Chaka’s run, take him by his collar, corner him and force the fly repellent onto his ears. Or, I can walk into his run, sit down and wait for him to come to me and give him lots of treats while handling his ears, without putting fly repellent on. The next few times, I’ll take the container with me, without opening it. Finally, I can open the container, and start working on putting fly stuff on.   So which scenario do you think Chaka would prefer? The one where I corner him and give him no choice over what is happening? Or the one where he gets rewarded for coming to me so that I can fix up his ears?   Not only does Chaka tolerate the fly stuff, he overcame his nervousness of the clicker, and once he got it he bounces and barks and jumps and tries everything he knows to get that click.   So Chaka would probably not earn any obedience championship titles any time soon, but he has all sorts of nifty behaviours we can work with and have some fun with. We need these ‘otherwise’ dogs in our lives; they teach us more than we ever expected to learn.

By Tersha

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