We are so excited to be co-hosting the 2nd Woof blog hop along with Oz the Terrier and Roxy the Traveling Dog. WOOF (Working Out Our Fears) Support is where reactive dogs and their owners can come together to share similar experiences. Are you a reactive and/or fearful dog or its owner? Then please join us and share your story. The Blog Hop is open through Sunday.
We’ve had a little bit of progress since our WOOF hop post last month.
First of all, I got a question answered that I wondered about. The only episodes we have had with Cricket’s reactivity have been with off leash dogs. Since we live in a rural area, it is easy to find quiet places to walk where we are less likely to run into anyone (though one of the episodes did happen in one of those places). Since we learned of her reactivity, avoidance was my major tool. Therefore, what I didn’t know was whether Cricket would react the same way when meeting an ON LEASH dog.
Cricket went for her annual vet visit a couple of weeks ago, along with her brother Luke and both cats. She did fine with that….she hates it all, but she cooperates. Once we were done, she relaxed while we were waiting to pay our bill. That was until a woman showed up outside the glass doors with her basset hound. Cricket immediately started barking when she saw the other dog. Oh boy, I thought, here we go. She’s going to put on a display right here and now! Of course, Luke started barking with her, and I was trying to carry on a conversation with our vet. I told my hubby to shorten her leash and hold on tight.
What a pleasant surprise it was for us that when the woman walked in the door with her leashed dog, Cricket stopped barking and her tail started wagging! I was so relieved. We played it safe and still kept her with us even though she wanted to see that other dog. I know this is not a guarantee, it’s possible her reaction could depend on the other dog, but I at least take it as a positive sign that she won’t react every time we meet another dog.
I have continued to work with her on the “watch me” command and she is doing well. We still haven’t been walking a lot, but I recently made some snowshoe trails and took her out on those. I stopped every so often and said her name and then “watch me”. I remembered the treats this time too. Almost every time I called her to me, she came and sat down in front of me. A couple of times she didn’t respond immediately to her name but when I said “watch me” she responded to that.
I also tried, as I mentioned I would, to work on it when out playing ball in the yard. This is as an exercise to get her to break her intense focus that she has when walking. She is very intensely focused on the ball game, but some of the times when Luke had the ball and she was just sniffing around the yard, I called her to me and gave the command, and a treat. One day I tried it, she did very well, but the other not as well. It could be that the first time we’d been playing longer, so she was more tired and less focused. We’ll keep working on that and see how it goes.
I feel encouraged now and as soon as our very cold winter weather lets up, I hope to spend more time walking (or snowshoeing as long as the snow lasts) and continuing the training. Perhaps by spring we’ll be ready to venture into more populated areas!
If you have a reactive or fearful dog, please feel free to join our hop this time or in the future! It is held the 2nd Thursday of every month. You don’t have to be a blogger to benefit from this; we also have a Facebook support page which anyone can ask to join. There we also share tips and stories to help and support each other.
**On an unrelated note, if you missed my contest post from Tuesday, click here to take a look and see if you’d like to guess what top 3 dog breeds make up our puppy Luke’s DNA (according to Wisdom Panel). There are prizes for closest guesser (random draw if more than one closest).**