Lu is not an off leash dog because when her nose gets going her ears shut down. ( I suspect this is why she was picked up as a stray and placed in a shelter.)
Sometimes, like tonight, I put on her long lead and let her get her sniff on. I just follow her around, wherever her nose leads her, and let her sniff and pounce and wag her tail.
I dream that maybe one day I will try her again off leash. Tonight she made me believe that it may be possible. But then I remember when we have done this before and she has picked up the scent of a deer and then she’s like a train. I also remind my self of the two times I tried her off leash….she was gone into the bush for 45 minutes. The first time I called and called for her to come back. The second time I knew that if I just waited where she last saw me she would return to me. And of course she did. But the whole time she was gone I was thinking….what if she doesn’t come back this time. I love her too much to lose her.
Lu has a memory like an elephant. If a dog barked at her behind a certain fence she will remember that and act inappropriate when going by this place even if the dog is not in the yard. This is only one example….there are a few. Eventually she will let it go. But it takes a while. If she saw a deer on our walk…well she expects it will be there two weeks later even after walking there everyday.
Which leads me to this weekends obsession and eventual
talking barking back at me.
There just so happened to be a squirrel in a tree in my daughters back yard… Ok so I expect Lu to bark, run, and try to climb the tree…the first time….but after many hours and then a day passes without hearing or seeing the squirrel…. The craziness must stop!
I start to block her from the tree. Which is me just standing there staring at her while she dodges back and forth in front of me barking non stop. Slowly I continue to walk towards her till finally she sits and stops barking. After this if she goes to the tree … I say leave it and she does. While I am standing there I often think about what she would be saying to me if she could talk…
Me: “Leave it”. (calmly standing in front of her staring at her).
Lu: “IT’S A SQUIRREL! DID YOU SEE IT! GET OUT OF MY WAY!! WHY ARE YOU STARING AT ME!! STOP LOOKING AT ME! MOVE! MOVE! MOVE! MOVE!” *this goes on for 1-2 minutes.
Me: (takes a few steps towards her till she finally sits)
Lu: “K! I’M SITTING! NOW MOVE! (looks at me) MO— …..Fine.”
Me:” Good girl.” ( walks away)
I have had a few instances of Lu barking back when I have told her to do something. It is actually one of the things I like about her personality. It doesn’t make her a bad dog. Just a dog that has an opinion. She will still do what you want but she will let you know (even while she’s doing what you ask) that she doesn’t really want to do it. If you are willing to follow through she will then comply the next time when asked with no barking back. I just think of her ,during these moments,like a little kid always asking why? And my answer to her is “because I said so”.
I drove a half hour to the nearest ‘big’ town so that Lu and I could work some more on her leash reactivity. Once we got there I knew that finding a dog on leash and being taken for a walk would be difficult.
The first hour of our walk yielded 2 barking dogs in a window and a very mellow husky staring at us through a chain link fence. Lu was a little agitated by the little dogs but got her self control in check without too much whining. The husky I didn’t even see but Lu did … She was great… No barking or whining. She just looked at it and when I said “lets go” she followed. (Mental note: Must make friends with husky owner)
Once we got back to the truck, I decided we would change our location. We headed closer to the lake. Not only to maybe find a dog but so Lu could cool off.
Lu had fun in the water and after about 45 minutes I figured we might as well head home. We headed back to the truck just as a car was parking beside me. A lady got out and headed to the back door of her vehicle. This meant one of two things: child or dog. We waited……it was a dog. As soon as Lu saw the dog we practiced ‘run away’.
I know what your thinking… An hour and 45 minutes to find a dog and you run away? Let me explain. Because Lu will not take a treat or even break her stare when there is another dog within eye shot, we instead run in the opposite direction followed by a treat. The click comes when she looks at the dog…. the reward is to run away + treat . The trainer that we have been seeing figures Lu’s issue is fear based so a reward of ‘get away from the dog’ might work. (Something she didn’t get the chance to do when she was attacked.)
Once we ‘run away’ we go back. And now the stalking begins …. The lady and her dog went down a path to the lake. I know this path doesn’t go anywhere but to the lake and back and Lu can still see the dog from up on the hill where we are standing. So we continue to practice. The dog is now off leash so I am keeping a close eye on it and the owner.
Then I notice the owner walking back to her vehicle and the dog still running around off leash. So I back up so that we will hopefully not be spotted by this dog when he come running over the hill. Again we wait…. The owner is on the phone and looks over to see Lu and I. Lu is sitting really nice. She glances at us twice then turns around and heads back to the lake. I figured we better go cause the look she gave me was pretty odd. And of course I started thinking this may look a little bit weird. We looked like a couple of stalkers I am sure…. oh wait…. we are.
Note: we practiced without using the gentle lead. 🙂
One of the exercises that I was given to do with Luna involved sit/stay while I answer the door. It starts out with first knocking on the door and returning to click/treat. It then progresses to going to the door and saying “Hi” to an imaginary person, return click/treat. Lu has done very well with this. It becomes a challenge when I go and say “Hi” and then have to have a conversation with this invisible person. This she can’t handle.
At first Luna could not contain herself. As soon as I started talking she would run to the door to see who it was. Now when I return to the place where she is doing her sit/stay she is never sitting although she is staying (kinda)….while she is peeking around the corner. It is actually very funny.
Because I live in the country Luna knows that usually the people that come to the house are people she knows. These people love to say hi to her and pet her and she gets to wiggle her little butt. She thinks she is missing out on this when I am talking to myself at the front door while she is
not sitting and staying. When I do finally release her from the exercise the first thing she does is run to the door to see who she has missed seeing.
I believe this exercise is to help her have more self control self. This will
hopefully help with her reaction to when she sees another dog. Personally I would rather Luna be able to see who is at the door and at the same time, hold her sit/stay. But I also know that there are steps that need to be accomplished before you get an end result.
So tonight my imaginary friend will come over again and we will have a conversation while Miss Nosy Rosy tries to hold her sit/stay.