Bessie’s training progresses and this weekend, after some weeks of snout grabs followed by treats and play rewards, I fitted her with a basket muzzle. Wearing this muzzle, Bessie can work in socialisation exercises and group activities to improve her skills safely, breath freely, take treats and drink water.
If you know Bessie you know we address her exuberance with exercise, obedience and games training, diet, vitamin supplements (more on our amazing friends at VetSpec later!), BAT work and loads of love. In that mix, I added a technique developed by Australian psychologists which shows some benefits with children who display sociopathy. Simply, look into the child’s eyes and say, genuinely, “I love you!”. Studies show that the children whose parents and carers use this technique are more likely to develop and demonstrate empathy towards others; a breakthrough in the treatment of both sociopathy and psychopathy in children. I didn’t know if it would work with a dog but, lost in the early days of Bessie’s temper tantrums, I reached for anything that might help me connect with her in a real and meaningful way and began using this approach with her as often as possible. My friends laughed but indulged me anyway.
On Friday, kneeling in front of her, I fitted the muzzle and tightened the strap, loads of yummy treats in hand. I could see Bessie’s agitation getting the better of her. She lifted her snout, her eyes rolling up into her head, nostrils flaring, and I called her name. She dropped her gaze to meet mine and, holding the moment without blinking, I said, very softly and gently; “Bessie, I love you!”. In that moment, I watched her body relax and her mind accept the muzzle. She made loads of friends that night. That’s my girl!
As it happens, looking us in the eye is one of the ways our dogs tell us they love us. Here are a few more signals that you are the apple of your dog’s eye. (read more)
If a muzzle may help you and your pet move through some training challenges, here is just one of many helpful tutorials available on-line.
Keep on Wrangling!