Dog trains man

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Confidence Collection

No, I am not standing in front of a mirror and giving myself a pep talk. It has been a while since my last post and I thought about what could best capture our long absence from the blog.

Ever since Zerline entered her 2nd fear period during Summer last year we have been working on her confidence, or better said, the lack thereof. Actually to name such a period in life which every dog has to go through as a "lack of confidence" period instead of a "fear" period, describes it inherently better. There goes a thin line between the two, but there is a huge difference.

Neither Kenzo, Tilde, or Zerline for that matter "feared" anything during those months of their lives. They worked through it in different ways. Kenzo pretended to be confident, which didn't fool any older male dog and ended repeatedly in Kenzo being bullied. Tilde covered up her lack of confidence by acting silly, or just made her best imitation of a whirlwind, leaving everybody behind in confusion. Zerline is cautious, and likes to have time to investigate. Time, which she ofcourse never is granted. But luckily that is exactly where I can help her. To claim the time she needs.

Zerline's test came in November last year, when we opened our cottage in North-Zealand. Everything was new. The place, the people, and the dogs. There was a lot of them too. Here on the West-coast there can sometimes go weeks before we meet anybody on our walks. Not in North-Zealand, where it is a lot more busy. We ended up meeting people and dogs on a daily basis. At first I worried if we would go forward too fast for her, but soon I could see how it was doing her a lot of good. Because to build confidence, you basically just need a long line of successes. I soon realized, Zerline had as many of those in only the three weeks we staid in North-Zealand, than in the previous three months on the West-coast put together.

Collecting those successes, is basically what we have been doing. I cheer internally when she interacts with a compatible dog. I equally cheer, when she decides not to interact with incompatible dogs. The same counts for humans. I cheer when she looks deeply into the eyes of a dog-lover she has just met, who instantly melts for her charm. I equally cheer when we go around them that don't care, without barking at them.

Sometimes she makes a mistake, like the time she jumped up a car to greet the woman sitting inside through the open window who wasn't a dog enthusiast after all - and who probably is going to sent me a hefty claim for scratching the car - but it doesn't hurt her at least. Just my wallet. All is allowed when you collect confidence.


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