This morning I was not proud of myself. We have an extra dog staying here while a friend is travelling. She is a sweet little white fluffy dog so really not my style but she has settled in nicely and loves to join us on our walks. This morning I was tired and kinda grumpy but we had a long walk that went fairly well other than the typical shenanigans which involved me rescuing from a dog's mouth four golf balls, one dead bird, two pieces of garbage and one hackey sack ball that I have no idea where it came from. On the way back home I planned to stop at the park and do a few moments video taping of heeling with both Riley and Stella.
That was where the morning turned bad. The dogs had already been out for a long time and they were in walk/play mode.. I had to tie two of the dogs up while I worked the other. The little dog with us proceeded to bark her head off the entire time she was tied and that caused Riley to bark as well. Barking dogs is one of my major pet peeves! I don't mind barking in context of a situation but it drives me nuts when dogs just bark, bark, bark in a tantrum type behaviour. It's like nails on a chalk board to me. This was a huge distraction as well for Stella and she did ok but I didn't get the performance I was hoping for. I switched dogs and got Riley instead and he was also not interested in working. I can usually get him interested quickly by playing a few games but today he found a piece of wadded up tape that apparently was super fascinating. I did get a few minutes of work out of him but again really not the standard that he is capable. While I was collecting all the dogs together for the short walk back to the house Riley played silly ass again and decided he didn't want to be back on leash. He instead bounced across the park until he found a ball. That made Stella pull like crazy to follow him and little dog to bark at him.
My frustration made me yell and leash correct both Stella and little dog. I finally got Riley back on leash and then when we got home he refused to release the ball to me so I was holding him and the ball and basically yelling at him to "GIVE ME THE FRICKIN BALL". He eventually released it and by this time I had worked myself into quite the mood and was bitchy and irritable for a good few hours. I figured out after that this was likely a really bad pms episode which luckily only happens a few times a year for me like that.
It really doesn't matter what the reason (or excuse) I am using to explain my behaviour. I wasn't fair to the dogs. I was frustrated and irritable and those feelings are exactly why I didn't get the behaviour I was seeking from my dogs. Riley especially reacts to my moods so of course he was being an ass because I was being an even bigger ASS. Stella probably didn't know what the heck to think because she isn't used to me acting like that. Little dog doesn't have any training so it is totally unrealistic for her to know how I wanted her to act in that situation.
I should have worked teeny, tiny attention steps with the dogs instead of leaping directly into heelwork. I told myself I wanted some footage of working the dogs so I could review my handling etc. What I really had in my brain was a vision of some dogs performing perfectly in synch with their owner that I could then upload to show what wonderful things we are accomplishing. I wasn't horrible to my dogs but I wasn't very "positive". I did not deal with what my real situation was in that moment and pushed to fast. When I watched the footage later there was actually some moments of brilliance that I wasn't in the right head space to recognize. My frustrations got in my way and that isn't fair for my dogs and hopefully this helps me think through my plans much better next time.