Well okay, a cat titled this blog, but whatever I’m fine with that XD
It was supposed to be called ‘Kasper: a significant success story!’
Now Kasper was the dog with many (many, many…) issues. At 9 months, when we adopted him, he had no recall, very little basic training (he knew sit and down), he was very scared of strangers, didn’t like any form of being touched or grooming, had separation anxiety, resource guarded anything from anyone, and would eat everything – including non-edibles!
Another thing – he had the most immense prey drive I have ever witnessed!
ANYTHING was to be chased. He once caught a pigeon out of mid air. We would go on huge hikes, 40-60 minutes 3-4 times a day, and on each hike we’d barely see him because he’d be off in the trees chasing after birds, squirrels, deer…
His recall was atrocious, but even after a year with us when he’d gotten surprisingly good with recall, if he was already in the chase – it was hopeless!! We walked him on a longline for several years whilst I drilled home recall, impulse control, and engage disengage with him. Even now I will only let him off lead in semi-secure areas where I know there are no livestock, because although his recall sits at about 85%, sometimes he’s just a gobshite XD
Even on lead or in the house, he would lose his shit entirely around other animals.
If he saw a cat on a walk, even 60ft ahead, the next ten minutes would be him scrabbling madly on lead, sniffing, peering about, and whining. Same with squirrels. Same with deer. Same with rabbits. And birds. And hedgehogs.
When we got our first rabbit, the bunny lived in a run at the bottom of our garden, which at the time was a patio area at the top (which Kasper had access to) and then a 15ft lower garden (which Kasper didn’t have access to because there was no way to securely fence it). The rabbit lived at the very bottom, so as far away from Kasper as possible.
Kasper would pace and whine at the fence – which was a solid fence he couldn’t see through – because he knew there was a rabbit down there!!
It’s taken years and years of training, but we have seen huge improvement, especially in the house.
There have been instances where pets have fallen or flown to his paws, and he has responded with a leave it until I have collected them. He doesn’t pester our chickens, or cats, when they or him are secured away from each other.
But I NEVER thought he would be able to be loose around them.
Yet with intensive training, look what’s happened! 🙂
I keep him on a longline just in case, but he has absolutely rocked it.
He’s able to focus on me when the cats are moving, when they follow him, and he’s not once gotten predatory with them…or even overly excited tbh.
Guys, I cannot stress enough how amazing the engage disengage is for reactive, excitable or fearful dogs!!
I also got to walk Kasper today (2nd time in two days, and no seizures each time!!), and we went to the beach. Once we were away from the road I held his lead, and we even squelched down the shore line so he could swim in the sea 😀
(my new phone can’t come soon enough – bring on October!!)