So most of you, that read my blog, know who my kids are. Connor 16, Ian 3 1/2 years old, Loki a 1 1/2-year-old Australian Cattle Dog (blue heeler), and Yadi a 3-month-old Corgi. I’m sure some of you that have been my students for a while have noticed that Loki has not been in class much lately.
Well, we had an accident with Loki and I have a mental block over working with him. Though I can see the ways I need to get over this problem I thought it might be helpful for others that have experienced issues with their own dogs and how hard it is to overcome a problem with working with them again. We have had problems with Ian being afraid of Loki because he is so hyper (which is normal for his breed) but had been working with him training Loki and we were making a lot of progress.
About a month ago, we got a swingset for Ian and while Tim and I were outside putting it together I noticed that Loki had started chasing cars. While we were working on the swing, if I told him to leave it he would and return to me.
Later that afternoon, I took Ian outside to see his new swing set and took Loki out with us. We had been outside for just a few minutes and Loki takes off running and slams into Ian. Ian flips up in the air with his feet over his head and landed on the back of his neck. As a mom, I was terrified that I had just lost my child. As a trainer, my mind started swimming as to what caused it to happen? Was he going after Ian to herd him, or what… The more I think about it now I believe he saw a car and was going after the car and Ian got in his way. No matter what caused the problem we had a major problem.
The very next day Yadi came home to be part of our family. Ian LOVES Yadi (when he is not trying to pull the tail off his cat boy suit). He wanted to hold him the whole way home from Fort Smith and I had to keep telling him no. I was so happy to see that the accident did not make Ian afraid of all dogs.For weeks everytime Loki even looked in his direction Ian would scream and cry. This was that main reason I stopped bringing him to work with me. After a few weeks of having Yadi Ian started wanting to play with Loki through the baby gate again.Being a trainer I’ve tried to set down and look at it from the perspective of what would I tell a student if Loki had been their dog, and Ian had been their child. I laid out a plan and am doing my best to follow it.
I’ve only allowed Loki to be around Ian while on a leash so that I can control him. I’ve ordered a blackout mesh to go on our fence so that Loki can not see the cars going by. We have put up a trolly line to keep Loki on when he is outside at the same time as Ian. This trolly line was the one for a 100lb dog, and Loki is only 37lbs. The first time I put up the zip line, I used the I-bolts that you screw into the tree. The first car Loki saw go by he took off running and before I could stop him, he bent and pulled the bolt right out of the tree!!!
I had to move it and secure it around two metal T posts in my yard from an old clothesline. This just added to my frustration. I thought long and hard about rehoming him and even tried looking for a home with the help of a few of my students that would know farmers that might need/want a working dog.
Trying to weigh in the safety of my child and would I really be able to control him if he wasn’t working on a daily basis anymore. I just had a nagging thought in my head that I couldn’t give him up. I couldn’t let him down, and he needed me as much as I needed him. I couldn’t stand the thought of him going to someone that would be too hard on him and not treat him the way I would want. I’ve always heard that you never get the dog you want, but the dog you need. Loki challenges me as a trainer every day, and I think I needed that after all the years. I have slowly been trying to be around him more and not feel that sinking feeling that he was going to hurt my child again.
I signed up and have been taking an online class for herding, trying to learn more about his instincts and how to work with them, not have them working against me. We went back to working on basic commands: Focus, Sit, Down, Stay, and Recall!!! Trying to work his positional commands from a distance to get more control over him. Wednesday of this week I brought Loki to work with me. He worked thought out the day with other students and had a major play session with Yadi and a friend. A tired dog is always a good dog!! He just laid beside Ian in the car and Ian was happy to have him there. I think we are finally making progress. No matter what you are going through, with a plan in place and everyone working together, you can get through it with a little Practice and Patience. Don’t give up, just keep looking for trainable opportunities.