Baxter’s Holiday – Part I
My name is Baxter and I am a border terrier. We borders have a reputation for being feisty and I liked to show everyone I met what a ruff-tuff border I was by barking wildly at them. I acted brave but deep down I was scared and my rude behaviour was just a way of trying to hide it. I found everything scary: dogs, traffic, new situations, sudden movements, noises, everything. My human, Nicola, was horrified. My behaviour was so bad that I got kicked out of our obedience training club – where Nicola is a trainer!
It rapidly began to look as though all the things that Nicola had planned for us; canicrossing together, doing Heelwork to music, enjoying training at our obedience club, were not going to be possible. It was looking as though even walking together normally during daylight hours was not going to be possible. But Nicola was not willing to let me become a recluse and she went on a mission to find help for me.
One day, after a very long time in the car, we found ourselves pulling up outside a very pretty place called the Annexe at Bowerland Cottage Holidays in Devon. We passed a very comfortable night in the Annexe, and then the next day our lives changed forever. My sister, Bonnie (also a border terrier) and I found ourselves crated in our car. Crated, no less! We had never been crated in the car before in our lives and we were outraged. Outraged! Boundaries were not something with which we were at all familiar and I was so outraged, I chewed a hole in my soft crate. Apparently I looked like something out of the film, The Shining. But things they were a-changing, and Nicola simply came back with a metal crate.
And the changes didn’t stop there. After chilling in our crates for a bit (we had to stop being outraged after a while, it was very tiring), our Mum and Nicola took Bonnie and I into The Furthest Away Field and our Naughty But Nice practical training commenced. Over four days, we figure of eighted so much that we wore a mud track into the field, we A to B’d like masters, we DMT’d all the way, and I learned that other dogs are not so scary and that I can rely on Nicola to keep me safe. I even made it into the training barn, eventually.
When we got home, things changed. No longer were we allowed to bark madly in the car: it was crates all the way. Nicola has even gotten herself a van now. We have boundaries and we love them. They give our lives a reliable, safe framework and we feel secure with them. Our quick morning bowl breakfast has been replaced with snuffle mats and brain training games. We love to earn our food! Walks and activities are now carefully planned to ensure our mental wellbeing is at the forefront of the experience, and Nicola and Mum have great regard for our stress buckets. We play tons of fun games and love learning together through play.
Life is good for me now. I still find a lot of things scary, but I am better able to manage. Nicola has done a lot of impulse control work with me and I am able to make good choices, so the red mist doesn’t get a chance to take over me. We’ve also worked on building my confidence and one of my favourite things is having my breakfast in my ball swamp. It helps me to learn that things that move are not scary. And it is fun!
Life was not fun for me before we found Devon Dogs. Nicola thought that I was going to live a lonely, unfulfilled life. Now I am back at our training club, working in the Advanced Class along with Bonnie. I also love to go running with Nicola and we regularly take part in Canicross classes with our friends at Cani-Fit. Not bad for a dog who used to scream at the very sight of another dog in the distance.
Nicola is a member of the Absolute Dogs Training Academy which means that she always has access to fun new games for us to learn with. She’s even introduced game based training at our obedience club so our friends are also enjoying the benefits of that way of training.
Thank goodness Nicola rocked up to a training seminar with Lauren on a dark night one February in rainy Paisley, that’s all I can say! Our holiday to Devon and our time with Lauren, Tom, Anna and the Devon Dogs team at Naughty But Nice camp changed our lives and we are all so grateful!
About the Author: Nicola is a lawyer by day and a dog trainer by evening and weekend. She and her border terriers, Bonnie and Baxter, will always be grateful to their friends at Devon Dogs for giving them their lives back when Naughty But Nice issues threatened to condemn them to a life of night walks. They are enthusiastic participants in canicross, Heelwork to Music, and pet obedience. You can follow their adventures at www.loyalheartdogtraining.wordpress.com.