Thursday, September 1, 2011
An Ordinary Walk
B likes to go for walks. (shocking, I know) Like many dogs, she gets excited about them, but unlike most dogs (I hope), this extra arousal can make our walks extra difficult. On days when Rubi seems to be, ah, "acting out" a little more than usual, we'll often do a little relaxation protocol in the front yard before we head out. The city finally came and cut down the rest of the tree that fell down in our yard last October, so to celebrate, B and I did RP on our brand new yard stump. Thrilling!
Then we're off to worry the neighborhood squirrels.
For many people, walks seem to be a terribly under-utilized training time. Every time I see a beginning training class asked if anyone trains their dogs on walks, we're lucky if one person raises their hand. I figure at least some of these people don't bother to walk their dogs at all, but for those that do, I just don't understand why you wouldn't bring some treats along and practice a little obedience. Obviously, I use B's walks as a way to work on her reactivity, but we also find some time away from other dogs to work on stuff like stays . . .
. . . and heeling . . .
Today's walk also included a few of the "regulars" - dogs I've walked by enough times to know where they are and how they'll react.
For instance, this guy is a hound mix (or a bully? really, my eyes suck) on one of our regular routes. He barks a few times and then sits down and pretends we don't exist. He's one of my favorites.
Then, B stops to take a break while her loyal servant finds a garbage can for the unmentionables.
B and I take a detour through our favorite park. I started going here because of all the open space - plenty of places to escape from other dogs. We continue to go here because it's only a block from my house, and it's the easiest place to find garbage cans. The park also butts up to two semi-busy roads, so there are rarely any off leash dogs here. That's a handy thing to know when you have a reactive dog.
Today, while walking around the park, we were startled by a little black doxie mix on a leash ( . . . and it's owner). The dog was across the street and by its house (so total distance = street + driveway). B's been doing pretty well with on leash dogs at a little closer than this distance, but usually I see them coming and we have some time to build up attention first. Neither B nor I realized this dog was there until the other dog started barking at us. B dialed in pretty hard, but she was still able to take treats, and she was letting me lure her head back toward me for the reward, so we stayed where we were. Happily, the other dog and her owner seemed pretty content to stay where they were, too, so I was able to reward B for just looking at the other dog. After about five treats, B offered me an auto watch, and I rewarded that heavily with a small handful of treats and a lot of praise. About twenty treats in, B was pretty comfortable with her auto watches, so we moved closer.
We got to the same side of the street as the barky little dog before I called it off and we continued along. I have a feeling B would've been comfortable getting closer, but because I didn't know the other dog or her owner, I didn't want to push it. It's probably time I started arranging training walks for B with my friend's dogs so I can set-up a controlled situations where B can get relatively close to other on-leash dogs. I suppose I should get on that before summer ends . . .
Anyway, I wanted to take a picture of the little black dog and her owner for you all, but I wanted even more to NOT be known around the neighborhood as "That Creepy Stalker Chick with the Pit Bulls."
In exchange, here's my neighbor's dog:
He moved in earlier this summer, and B has never, ever reacted at him. I have no idea why. He barks at us, and runs the fence, so B should care, but she doesn't. She's never met the dog up close, but she seems to have almost no interest in him. For example, we're about five feet from this guy, and B lets me dig my camera out, turn it on, point, click, wait for dog to stop barking at us, point, click again, and put camera away all before getting a treat. I don't get it.
Not that I'm complaining.