Ahh, what a week it has been. I feel like there have been so many milestones that have taken place that it’s hard to know where to start first.
So I’ll start here…
Our stress level, previously caused by a seemingly un-trainable, needy puppy, has all but completely gone. The transformation has been completely instantaneous.
If we were never sure about getting a professional trainer in the past, we are sure as heck sure now! And I suppose not all trainers are created equal, so I’ll clarify – Bark Busters. We’re sure about Bark Busters!
Our days this first week were to be measured in wins. Count up the wins. Who wins – us or our Yorkie. And I have to be honest, there was only one time where we were aware that we missed our timing on a correction, knew it, laughed it off, and caught her the next time. All of the rest were wins for the whole house.
How to Stop a Jumping Puppy
One of the big things that we had to work on was jumping on people. My hubby, when he came downstairs in the morning, and visitors to our home. We have been able to work with her in both cases this week, and although she still gets excited, we can actually see her wheels turning as she starts to get excited and then checks herself not to jump. It’s amazing to see her figure it out for herself.
And as her pack leaders, we had to determine what was acceptable jumping (when called upon by us) and what was misbehaving (when she made the decision on her own). We really needed to learn to water her body language and anticipate the jump.
But also we needed to allow her the opportunity to get into the situation and learn to make the right decision on her own, rather than just rush into the correction BEFORE she had even been given the chance to even THINK about anything.
That all came down to our timing again. If we don’t correct at the right time, she has no way to correlate the correction to her behaviour / thought.
One week later, she no longer jumps on hubby when he comes down in the stairs. In fact – unintended side effect – she has actually started waiting (albeit excitedly) ON HER PILLOW for him to come into the room, do his own thing, and then wait for him to call her over for morning loves! It’s crazy! We did not ask her for that level of restraint, and yet, that’s where she decided – on her own – how she wanted to handle it. So obvious win on the jumping, and big awesome win on the pillow-waiting!
How to Stop a Pup from Barking at the Doorbell
This was another of the big issues that we wanted to deal with. We work from home, and my office is on the main floor, closer to the front of the house. I am often on the phone, and cannot have a dog barking every time someone comes to the door.
Carol, our Bark Busters trainer, showed us how to own, not just the door area, but the whole situation. Our Yorkie does not need to be concerned with the door, who is there, or noises she hears… It’s not her space. She’s not invited.
I really thought this would be the tough one. She LOST HER MIND whenever anyone answered the door – including when Carol from Bark Busters first arrived for training!
This week, we have had people come to the door every day, and only one time did we have to really implement the ‘big correction’. That was the first door bell on the second day. Since that time, I can be in my office working – and once, I was even on the phone! – and when the doorbell rings, she waits for either hubby or myself to answer the door and deal with whatever is there.
Again, she waits on her pillow. Sitting – not standing waiting to jump off into insanity! Crazy! Big big big win!!!
Stop a Puppy from Pulling on Walks
Another issue we wanted to review with Carol. And while poor Duchess was so traumatized from having discovered her non-leader place in the pack the day we did training, I have not had a single issue with her since learning the Bark Buster method. Like, at all!
When we go for walks, she is told we are going for a walk, and she – with a muted excitement – follows me to the back door to get her harness and leash, and then follows me to the front door and stands PATIENTLY while I hook her up (rather than fighting and squirming).
Then she waits inside the door for me to go outside, and then waits to be called out! Every single time!
She is taking the stairs up AND down (if you knew her pre-training, you would know that steps was one way she dominated her sucker mom… She didn’t want to bother with them, and knew that I would carry her, every time. Bad momma).
When we walk this week, it is always loose-leash. She is always behind me slightly, or mostly right next to my legs. And this week, for the first time EVER, and even though I am not looking to have her in off-leash places, she walked off leash! Baby steps, but the timing was right… Early morning walk by the pond, no people or other dogs… I dropped the leash and kept going. She never flinched and stayed right by my side. We must have spent 20 minutes like that just walking… Leash dragging on the ground, puppy at my side. I was soooo thrilled!
Again, timing any correction in this case was key. I found myself more aware of distracting forces around us – another dog, or person, or a crazy dive-bombing bird. If I noticed that she was perking her attention to any of it, I would just speak to her in my leader-voice and bring her attention back to me. No problem. No fight.
Only one time did she bark, and it was at a giant dog that was freaking out at her (those owners needed Bark Busters STAT!). I quickly gave the correction, she went eyes forward and walked beside me, ignoring the situation.
Unintended Lessons Learned
One thing that we realized from day one was that we were not trusting our dog. She was existing in our world, but didn’t know her place in it, and therefore, we were all just ‘getting by’. Stress, unrecognized corrections, disagreements between hubby and I on how to do things…
Since successfully realizing and learning how to display our pack leadership, we have seen a number of changes in our home – big wins that we were not expecting.
Since training day, we have been able to leave the door to her pen open – all day long, even if we are not in the room – and she will stay where she is until given permission to come out. She has also been able to nap on her pillow while I work, and won’t get off without permission. A week ago, I could NEVER trust her to be out of a confined space. She’s not fully house trained, and we’re always concerned about where she is or what she’s doing. Now, I can have her out, and go to work and she goes to her pillow. She will sometimes choose to go to her pen instead, which has her bed and blanket in it. And even though she is out, she is not constantly draining me, vying for my constant attention.
Meal times, same thing… Hubby and I can eat in peace while she just sits or sleeps on her pillow (we ideally wanted her to know her place at meal times – not roaming or under the table). This one was easy. Before we eat, I invite her to her pillow. She stays. No big deal (except HUGE WIN!).
And here’s the biggest win I could have ever imagined or hoped for: she is now ASKING permission to go to the bathroom! It’s as if she knows that she doesn’t get free willy-nilly run of the house – she goes when and where her leaders indicate. She is asking in her own way, and subsequently waiting until we say it’s ok. Then she runs to the back door and waits! I cannot express how amazing that is for us! I could not be more happy.
So cheers to our wins this week… I am looking forward to a lifetime of wins with our Yorkie, all thanks to Bark Busters. But we’ll go one week at a time… Here’s to us remembering to remain the pack leaders, and to not get distracted or let down our leader-guard by getting too comfortable with our new found peace. We must continue to set her up for success!
Check out the next installment in this series: Puppy Training Homework: Week 2
Want another Bark Buster’s Success Story? Check this out!