Lucy is a high-strung anxious Belgian Malinois. Belgian Malinois are known to be powerful, driven working dogs, but without a clear purpose, this breed can be a wreck.
Anxiety, while common with pet dogs, is very common with dogs who:
Are high energy
Have a High mental capacity for learning
Are a herding breed
These three things coupled with a lack of leadership and structure is the perfect recipe for challenges such as anxiety, nervousness, fear, and insecurity.
There is a greater chance of having these types of mental challenges when the dog doesn’t understand that there are rules and boundaries in life.
This can happen with any dog, not just working dogs.
Think about this rule:
Lack of rules and boundaries leads to chaos.
FOR THE DOG:
A lack of understanding rules and boundaries leads to a chaotic mind.
EXPLANATION: The chaotic mind is unstable, anxious, unpredictable, and stressed. This leads to inconsistent, unpredictable, unhealthy behavior. The chaotic mind can also display nervousness, fear, insecurity, anxiety....not to mention the stress hormone, cortisol, polluting the body.
We continue to find that many dog owners aren’t really clear on what rules they want their dog to follow. Over the long term, this kind of uncertainty can be very unhealthy for the dog.
For Lucy, she needs a TON of leadership and a TON of structure. She needs her exercise too, but she also needs to have long periods of time where she does nothing but stay in one spot, like on her place, her dog bed, or in her crate practicing being relaxed. Not because she wants to do it, but because she was told to do it. She’s not allowed to get up and pace around or be active during these times.
Duration work gives the dog plenty of opportunity to relax the mind. When the dog is up and active, they are constantly stimulated, especially if they are reacting to distractions. Stationary accountability (stationary commands) and duration work are important for any dog, and is a big part of the process when rehabbing cases like Lucy’s.
Once we have the duration work down, we begin to add in distraction while teaching the dog to stay accountable to the stationary command, thus learning to not react to the distractions that occur in everyday life. e.g. distractions such as front door knocking, doorbell, people coming in, other dogs, kids, vacuums, etc.
We want the dog to learn to be cool And not worry so much about everything. The world is a busy place and we don’t Need to react.
We help dogs find other ways to cope.
Dogs don’t automatically Know this. We need to lead them through it by teaching.
In the video above, we are working Lucy through the distraction of the vacuum while she “Downs” in the crate.