Well yesterday actually! While I typically do most of the “dog stuff”; training, medications, dressing them up and taking pictures, thinking of new ways to challenge them, taking them to classes ect, my fiance is the belly rub giver. We are on the same page when it comes to wanting more for Johnny however, so I asked if he would go with us to see how Johnny should be handled. Honestly, I also felt myself getting more and more stressed just thinking about taking Johnny out, so I needed him there for me as well.
It was AMAZING. Of course there is a long road ahead but overall the walk went great. I chose to go in the middle of the day when there wouldn’t be a ton of people out. I started by getting Johnny leashed up and hanging out in the front yard for a little bit before starting our walk. My fiance has actually started walking Johnny more frequently in the last month or two and he suggested we head to an area behind a shopping center near our house that would be quieter in case Johnny was reaching threshold.
We were gone about 45 minutes and Johnny never once surpassed his threshold from what I could tell. A few times people got within a couple feet and even then the most I heard was a little bit of huffing and puffing but no total freak out, no barking or lunging. A trainer once told me that we had “trained the warning out of Johnny” so he doesn’t typically do the pulling on the leash, barking and jumping routine that many reactive dogs do. He does the opposite. He stiffens and watches intently until they are in his bubble or heaven forbid they try to touch him. This was different though, he looked at the people approaching and I was still able to ask calmly but firmly for a sit and once I started rewarding him he let it go and didn’t start fixating.
There are a few things we still need to figure out though..:
- Timing- I’m not sure how long I should treat him. At one point we hung out in a grassy area by a bookstore and I figured I would just treat until they were inside the store but he seemed to stop worrying once they were 10-15 feet away, next time I think I may stop sooner if he seems to be handling it.
- Sniffing- His nose is working constantly. I’m sure it’s probably a displacement type activity for him at least in part so should I stop him and force him to focus on me or let him at it since it means he isn’t reacting to possible triggers?
- Treat Bag- After awhile of hanging out in one spot he started nosing at the bag. Since he knows it’s there does that mean I’m bribing good behavior?
- Im sure there are so many more but I was just busy in the moment constantly assessing how his stress level to make any lasting mental notes!
The walk was so uneventful that for most of it I was wondering if I was even doing it right. It’s gotta be harder then that right? 😉