Author Topic: Reactive to birds (some progress!!)  (Read 203 times)

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Offline sophie.ivy

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Reactive to birds (some progress!!)
« on: June 29, 2022, 12:08:02 PM »
I just wanted to share some of the progress Ivy has made recently with her reactivity to birds. I've posted about it a few times and was really feeling down about her barking/lunging/bolting when she saw her nemesis, mr. pigeon. Walks were becoming a pain for all of us.

I spoke to our gundog trainer and read a lot of posts on here, and started asking her to 'sit' whenever she saw one and praise and treats when she looked at us instead of the bird. Our trainer also asked us to stop giving her the opportunity to chase them and keep her focus on us off lead, and also change our mindset and seek out birds as a good training opportunity, rather than something to be anxious about and avoid as she's probably picking up on that.

I was skeptical to be honest that I would ever be able to reach her through the red mist, but I started asking her to sit every time we saw a bird. It didn't go well at first and she was ignoring me so I walked her away (sometimes carried her!) and sat her up at a greater distance. Over time, we got closer and when I saw that she was about to go nuts, I just walked her away and tried again. It's been about a month or so of doing this on every walk (ahh!) and today, a magpie flew out of the bush she was next to off lead whilst we were playing 'go find' and she sat without me asking and looked at me.

The cat also jumped over the fence earlier and she sat :banana: (we were all shocked, including the cat)

I feel so proud of her as her prey drive is so strong!! We still have a way to go, but she is so much better than she used to be and walks are becoming a joy again. We're introducing a stop whistle in our training sessions and practicing it in a tennis court so hopefully we can try it in the real world soon when she's off lead! Loose lead walking has also seemed to click after months and months of training and me almost giving up on it a few times.

I think what might have also helped is I found a lovely footpath near me that takes you past lots of ponies in a paddock and we've been practicing her sitting and looking at me when a friendly pony comes over. She's never really reacted to ponies so it's been good to reinforce the behaviour when it's a bit easier for her.

I really wanted to share this in case anyone else is struggling the same way we were. It's been quite hard work to be honest, but it's working!! Honestly, if my crazy cocker can stop having meltdowns over birds then any dog can (at one point, she was even barking at the blue tits)!

Thank you for reading my essay :005:

Online bizzylizzy

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Re: Reactive to birds (some progress!!)
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2022, 12:49:30 PM »
Oh well done!!!! It just goes to show what can be achieved by a logical approach  and consistent training and its so rewarding to see results!
Thanks for the update, Im sure it will reassure a lot of others coping with the same problem!!
 :bigarmhug: to Ivy! Shes deserved a big treat!!  :luv:

Offline ejp

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Re: Reactive to birds (some progress!!)
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2022, 06:59:42 PM »
I am seriously impressed, well done.  Consistency definitely helps and a change of approach has really helped.  I hope your poor cat is in therapy to get over the shock of being ignored!  :005:

Offline cazza

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Re: Reactive to birds (some progress!!)
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2022, 07:12:27 AM »
Fantastic well done to you both  :luv:


Offline ips

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Re: Reactive to birds (some progress!!)
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2022, 12:39:35 PM »
Well done 👍
Muddling along in the hope that one day it all makes sense.

Offline sophie.ivy

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Re: Reactive to birds (some progress!!)
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2022, 08:43:40 AM »
Thanks all!

As balance, my husband dropped her lead this weekend and she darted off to follow scent trails and wouldn't come back to him when he called...well coming back and then feinting at the last minute so he couldn't grab her lead >:D
 
These dogs do keep you humble :005: