About two and a half months ago, Rick and Heather took me to Watermelon Mountain Ranch Kennels for a training session. It was a session that focused on training me rather than Cura. Now, if you have been following this blog, you may be thinking something along the lines of "Aren't ALL the training sessions about training you?" To some extent, you would be right. This whole process has been quite a learning curve, even for someone who has lived with dogs much of my life, been involved in the training of some of them, and 'in charge' and 'responsible' for several of them. But, this particular training session was very different since Cura was not involved at all. It was all about learning to control other dogs in my environment.
The whole thing started because Cura and I had gotten charged by two different dogs in a very short period of time and both Cura and I were not doing so well with the prospect of other dogs in our vicinity. I am sure that it was more me than Cura -- she was most likely responding more to my reaction than to the fact that another dog was near. Hey, what can I say, getting bitten, no matter how minor it turned out to be, is rather traumatic. I wasn't really afraid of getting bit again (well, I wasn't looking forward to it, either!), I was more concerned that, next time, I would not be able to stop Cura from getting hurt. I had been successful so far but, to me, it felt that I had managed to keep Cura safe more out of luck than any kind of real control over the situation. So, my lovely training team came up with a solution . . . go into the kennels and set boundaries for dogs that I had never met.
WHAT!!?? Don't worry, I didn't go in by myself. Rick and Heather were with me to give me pointers and to step in if things got dicey. Turns out I didn't really need it (quite possibly because I knew that they had my back) -- things never got out of hand at all. Sure, it took some time for me to get the hang of setting boundaries, but at the end of the session I had managed to create not only calm, but set a circle boundary around myself that the five dogs in the pod did not attempt to cross. Well, let me tell you, that was a serious confidence builder!
Since then I have been more or less successful at boundaries with other dogs. I am beginning to notice that my success (or lack thereof) is reflective of my mental/emotional state at the time. Big surprise! (she says in a voice dripping with sarcasm) I am also noticing that my mental/emotional state is frequently influenced by the actions and attitudes of those around me. I seem to have encountered a number of 'negative' people lately and it has taken its toll. Hmmm . . . boundaries may come in handy for more than just the uncontrolled dogs that I encounter -- I am going to have to try it on the next negative person that comes my way!