Walking the dogs yesterday and today, we’ve been working through some issues. One of the littles tends to be a little on the “worrier/alarmist” side. If another dog is out and about, she’s whining and pulling trying to defend her turf. Or me. Or her two bros. In our backyard we have a boxer neighbor on one side, and a couple of of other dogs on next door. Next door dogs aren’t barkers. Ours are. The boxer behind us is. The boxer and our alarmist have very heated “discussions” through the fence. Much to the delight of our neighborhood, I’m certain.
Since we adopted our 3rd, I wanted to make sure we curb this behavior so then he won’t pick up those same habits. We are working with a trainer on this very thing and I’m very hopeful our neighborhood, and our backyard specifically, will be quieter in no time at all. (Fingers crossed!) I took each dog individually yesterday. It was awesome to have some one on one time with each, working on each of their issues, except for Buck – who basically just loves to go and be with me. Hippo is learning on the leash – but is doing amazing. I was able to run with him more as the “leg-bonking” has subsided. We worked on fast, slow, stop, sit, and of course side to side so he’ll follow my leg as I lead. It’s amazing to watch him “get it”. Once he does, he’s golden! (He also shakes paws!)
Today, I walked just Hippo while the two littles were playing at daycare. I love doggie daycare because not only does it drain excess energy, it keeps them socialized with other dogs and people. It has been such a good thing! And as you can see, I currently have 3 slugs for dogs!
“My own bed (that fits me) is not nearly as good as Hippo’s extra large one!”
While on our walk, I worked again with Hippo on the leash. We even encountered other walkers out and about. I tend to forget what Hippo looks like to someone who doesn’t know him. He looks like a pit. He is big. The first couple we encountered stayed where they were and I gave them a wide berth and continued on our way. Later down the path, they saw me working with him to sit, lay down, etc. and stopped to say hello and “Nice dog.”
After that, we walked passed a giant barking German Shepard. Hippo sat and looked up at me, not barking once. (YAY!) I think in my head, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” I say this to calm myself. It doesn’t matter if other dogs are freaking out. Keep calm. If these canines have taught me anything, it’s that they will mirror my energy. If I’m angry, upset, nervous, hurried, etc., they will become so as well. It’s me, amplified. Since we have had encounters walking our worrier and she freaks out, I know I anticipate it, therefore ensuring she keeps doing it. I’m working on it, but it is a conscience effort every single walk. Hippo on the other hand, is so chill he doesn’t really care. He makes it easy to relax and not anticipate.
Soon after, a lady passed by walking as far away from us as she could while still staying on the path. I had Hippo sit and be respectful while she passed.
“Wow. He really listens to you,” she remarked.
“He’s still learning a bit, but we are getting there!” I replied.
“I’m very afraid of large dogs, so I really appreciate you training yours.”
“I used to be, too,” I said.
Used to be. It struck me suddenly as she went on her way, that I, too tended to be leery of larger breeds. Having a neighbor in Washington with the most lovable pit I’d ever met helped ease that fear. Learning about dogs, being around dogs of all types just on our street has helped tremendously. On these walks this weekend, I had to force myself to stay in the moment the way the dogs do, instead of projecting and anticipating the “what ifs…”
It’s been said that winning the lottery will amplify your personality. If you are a colossal jerk, loads of money will make you an even bigger one. If you are more of the benevolent philanthropist, a windfall will make you that much more giving. I would venture to say that dogs function the same way.
Here’s to working on the good stuff being amplified!