I had a flash giveaway planned for today, but I shifted it to tomorrow (so stay tuned for that!) because I need to gripe a little bit and solicit some advice.
As you know by now, I’ve been working with Lucas and Cooper on reactivity.
They are affected by different stimuli, and they respond totally differently from each other. Lucas fixates on perceived threats. He stares down another dog/bicycle/whatever until he gets himself wound so tightly that he explodes. Cooper has no impulse control and flies off at first sight of something that might be threatening. For both of them, I’m working on the same thing: When you see something that scares you, look at me and you will get cheese and be safe.
And it’s been going phenomenally well.
But, for both, it was a work in progress.
All our work is being put to the ultimate test in our new home for three reasons:
- There are no sidewalks, so we have to walk in the street. Somehow this makes them feel less structured, and they wander away from me instead of sticking by my side. Not good. Not safe. I’m reinforcing “with me” like crazy.
- There are cats everywhere. Some seem like strays – raggedy, thin, cuts and bruises – while others seem like outdoor cats.
- And the biggest problem of them all: People let their dogs run loose.
The guy across the street lets his dog out the front door, and the dog just goes wherever he wants – which includes “going” wherever he wants – strolls around, then eventually heads home. You might have seen on Facebook last week that Cooper and I got charged down the street by a loose Chihuahua. Last night, while washing dishes, two spaniel-looking dogs wrestled and romped up and down the grassy median that runs through the middle of the neighborhood. Then, this morning, Cooper and I had to cross the street as two dogs burst out of a house (perhaps they had an invisible fence, but I don’t know and it’s not like those are reliable) as their person stood on the street putting things in his truck. He looked up and yelled, “Cut it out!” to his dogs, then across the street at me, “That looks like a good dog.” In my head: No thanks to you, buddy.
Our training is being put to the ultimate test.
Then, the other day, “So here’s something,” I texted John. “There is a man walking his dog with soda and flexi lead in one hand, baseball bat in the other.” And he wasn’t dressed for the park. His dog was little, a fluff ball, so maybe there have been altercations with some of the loose dogs?
I mean, I’d certainly prefer Patricia McConnell’s How to Stop an Approaching Dog in an Emergency technique (if you haven’t watched this video, please do). It’s one thing if I’m walking Emmett who doesn’t react to or get worked up about anything so I could focus my attention on the approaching dog, but if I have the other two…
John wants me to start carrying pepper spray, which I do have tucked away in my jewelry box… you know, where it can be most effective.
Anyway, I could go on, but this post is getting kinda long, and I’m sure you get the picture! I guess the only “solution” is to ramp up our training and figure out a strategy for deterring an oncoming dog.
But have you experienced anything like this? Are loose dogs around where you walk? Any tips or tricks? Commiseration?