The weather in New England hasn’t been the best for dog owners this past week… sub-freezing temperatures aren’t exactly the best for getting your dog out on a nice walk. Most of us struggled just to get our dogs to stay outside in the yard long enough to take care of their business.
Today was super nice weather so I wanted to take Roxy to the bike path for a long walk. A nice day after days of crappy weather, meant a lot of dog owners were going to be on the bike path with me and Roxy, a dog who is reactive toward other dogs when out on walks.
I knew taking her out for a walk today would test her, my handling skills, and how far we have gotten with her training. I reminded myself that we’ve been working almost every day, we use the necessary training tools for communication, we’ve been successful on previous walks, and I should feel confident that she is ready for this walk in particular. I also knew it was important to get Roxy out of the shelter and on an adventure. All dogs need walks and enrichment for their mental and physical health but for Roxy, it’s even more important! She’s been at Lighthouse for 1 year and 10 months. Every time she’s able to leave the shelter setting and focus on something else is really special for her.
We encountered 2 well-behaved goldens. They had been following us for awhile, far enough behind that we didn’t have to be concerned just yet. But Roxy was taking her sweet time smelling anything and everything so they eventually got close enough that I made the decision to turn down a side street off the path. I told Roxy to sit, lay down, and stay. She did all commands immediately! I snapped some pictures:
When I looked up from admiring how happy she was, I realized the goldens were coming down the same side street that I had used to get away from them so I asked Roxy to come and then heel and we moved further away from them. She followed my lead. I was so proud of her.
We had already walked a good distance and I figured there would undoubtedly be other dogs to pass on our way back so we turned around and headed back in the direction to my car. On the way back, there was a stretch of time where we only passed people and bikes. She was an absolute gem passing every person and bike. We practiced some more down stays:
Within the last 20 minutes of our walk, we passed an off-leash lab (on a leash-only path ☹️ – that is why we practice here), a reactive cattle dog (barked & pulled their owner toward Roxy who was in a down-stay), a chihuahua, and a jack russell terrier mix on a flexi-lead. It was overwhelming for me and I’m sure it was overwhelming for Roxy too but this girl listened to everything I asked her to do. We kept it calm & cool! We pulled off to the side of the bike path for some of these encounters. I told her to sit and stay and that is what she did. I am so incredibly proud of her. A reactive dog seeing 6 dogs within a one-hour walk without reacting negatively is a win-win in our book.
Thank you Roxy! You are smart, you are loyal, and you are good. I love working with you.