We are pleased to be co-hosting the 5th WOOF blog hop along with Oz the Terrier. 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? We’d love to hear your story! This month’s theme is: Traveling with a Reactive Dog. Whether your travels take you all over the country, your state or just your neighborhood, tell us how you cope while traveling with your reactive dog. The Blog Hop is open through Sunday.
My hubby and I don’t really travel a lot; it’s rare that we leave New England. On the occasions that we do travel further, we don’t take the dogs with us. Even our closer getaways don’t involve the dogs. My hubby feels that in order for us to really be able to relax, we should leave the dogs at home (with a sitter). We have a fenced in yard where it’s easy to take care of them, and if we go places without that, it’s actually more work for us to leash them up to take them out for their potty breaks. Plus we’re just not sure about leaving them behind if we wanted to go out to dinner or something. But part of the reason we don’t travel as much is because I hate leaving the dogs behind; I miss them so much. I’m trying to convince him to let us take the dogs on our next trip.
First we have work to do. Cricket is not only leash reactive, she’s fearful of riding in the car. I had told you in our last WOOF post that we planned to try the Anxiety Wrap on her to deal with some of those fears and maybe even to get her to relax on walks. We didn’t have much luck: I tried it on her for car rides and she was still shaking and panting. At first I thought she was better but that only lasted a few minutes. I haven’t given up on it completely, but I’m feeling discouraged about that tool.
For now we work on our travels around the neighborhood, and we also take short drives to get to some other trails as well. I’m hoping she’ll get more used to the riding that way. One thing I’ve learned with Cricket now is that running (jogging) is really great for her. She seems so much more relaxed when we jog than when we only walk! I’m not sure why but some of my thoughts are: 1) I’m keeping up with her pace better. She’s a fast walker and a puller, but if I’m jogging she isn’t pulling at all. 2) Jogging seems to give her more of a purpose, perhaps she feels more like she’s doing something constructive.
Even when we slow down to a walk, she seems more relaxed and isn’t pulling. She’s even stopping to sniff things like most beagles do! She has rarely done that in the past, she is all about go, go, go, when we’re out. Just this week I got a SnapLeash to try (review coming soon) and this can be used as a hands free leash. It went really well using it that way with Cricket. I was afraid I’d feel less in control of her but that wasn’t the case at all. It was almost like she felt more relaxed without my constant tension on the leash, but we’ll need more time with it to know for sure.
We had another positive experience on our street when we were out on a run a few weeks ago. We had just left the rail trail and headed up towards home when I heard someone behind us. It was two women on horses! I immediately expected the worst of Cricket, and we picked up our pace but couldn’t stay ahead of them. I looked back and told them that I wasn’t sure how she would be, and they said not to worry, the horses would be fine with her. I thought sure Cricket would be afraid of them and start barking, so we crossed the street to let them pass. She was so good! She started to woof just a little bit and I told her no, and she stopped right off, and just watched them go by. I was so pleased!
I feel the key to lessening Cricket’s reactivity is getting her to relax when we’re out and about. We’re making progress here, but I have to be honest, she hasn’t really been put to the test. We haven’t run into any other dogs, on or off leash, lately. I’m the one that needs to get brave and get her out to places to meet other dogs. If you read my post last Friday about what happened when walking Luke and our neighbor’s dog coming running at us, you’ll understand that I’m wondering if that would have gone differently if I’d had Cricket and not Luke.
For now I’m continuing to work with Cricket, and also working on my husband, and maybe next year when Luke is a bit older I’ll talk him into taking the dogs on a trip. I’ve recently been hearing more and more people who do find places to take their dogs where they have fenced in yards for them. I think it would be great for the dogs and it’s something to look forward to. A change of scenery could be good for all of us!
Do you travel with your dogs, and what special things have you done to prepare them for it?