It’s been such a journey with Bonnie the beautiful rescue hound. She’s been with us five years now and she’s the sweetest, most loving hound. When you adopt a rescue hound one of the first things you realise is how easy it is for someone to cause trauma through neglect, and then how difficult it is to unpick those ‘survival behaviours’.
Bonnie used to have terrible separation anxiety – she trashed the house when we left her for 10mins, she also had a lot of anxiety around food and would empty bins all the time, she once ate an entire pan of really spicy chilli I’d left cooling on the stove without knocking said pan onto the floor. You have to admire her dexterity 😂.
These behaviours are no more. Hurrah!
The final hurdle for us is her fear of other dogs. Seeing them triggers an explosion in her head and she runs at them full speed barking wildly. This is not good behaviour. We’ve tried a number of things but the trainers we met were all pretty old school in their ‘domineering’ approach. One woman literally was like YOU HAVE TO THROW HER ON HER BACK AND SHOUT NO! NO! NO!
We tried that for like a day, it was too traumatic for all of us.
We tried a muzzle but Bonnie was just distraught.
Anyways now, with lockdown she’s got worse, and then I find all this lovely information about positive reinforcement, note – it’s NOT about rewarding bad behaviour, an approach based solely on mutual respect and helping the hound to cope in stressful situations through – positive reinforcement.
I’ve been reading more about this and talking to people. Just today on the lead Bonnie stood looking at me all the time a strange dog went past and she didn’t bark or jump at them (a pocket full of treats works). This is amazing!
I’ve also been using a similar technique to encourage the hounds not to bark when people/dogs/cats come near the van – it’s pretty successful so far.
We have a long way to go and so much to learn, so have some zoom sessions planned with a trainer whose approach makes our heart sing. I’ve discovered so much just from following Rehab Your Rescue on Instagram and can’t wait to builder a stronger relationship of trust with our hounds as the learning continues.