On Saturday, it was warm enough that I didn't mind letting Barley splash in the lake a little bit. (I know some of your dogs have been swimming for weeks--but growing up my mom wouldn't let us in the water until it was at least 80 degrees out and I can't get that message out of my head when Barley tries to play in the frigid lake when it's only 60 out!) Barley doesn't like to get wet, but she likes to chomp at the water and then growl when she can't get ahold of it. Watching her jump back in surprise when a wave gets her toes makes me laugh, so we spent a while just walking back and forth along the little strip of beach.
Our big accomplishment of the week has nothing to do with walking. Our big accomplishment was facing Barley's arch nemesis, the dog that attacks our French doors.
After a morning of splashing in the lake, I wanted to sit outside and read while we still had sunny warm weather. I only had a couple chapters of my book left, so I thought it was a good afternoon to be outside. When Barley and I try to relax outside, I take a mat out for her, lots of treats, and a Kong or some other big stuffed snack to keep her focused on cleaning it out rather than looking for the devil dog. We did a lot of mat work in reactive dog class, so when we run the risk of encountering our less-than-neighborly neighbor dog, the mat helps keep Barley calmer.
Shortly after finishing a chapter, a high pitched yapping announced a party crasher. Luckily, I'd made sure I had enough of the long lead left to sit on the leash in addition to having the loop around my wrist, so there was not chance of a surprise that would pull the leash out of my hands if I was really into my book. Barley hopped up off her mat, so I got her attention by tossing a few treats on the patio and telling her to "Find It." I saw that the dog was on its tie out, so I relaxed a little and started focusing on keeping Barley's attention off the dog.
Usually, when the devil dog comes out, we go inside. I know that trains the dog that when it comes charging out--loose or to the end of it's tie out--we disappear, which just encourages it to keep charging out and yapping at us. But it's easier. Keeping Barley calm and focused with that dog is tough. She wants to lunge and bark back at it. We have to do our mat work, work on "what's that," and find treats on the porch. Going back inside requires less work, so it's usually the choice we make. Every aspect of being out in the world with Barley--from class to the vet to a park--requires a lot work (don't get me wrong, it's worth it, but it's tiring), so at home when we have the option to go inside, it's tempting to take it.
This week, though, we worked on training through the problem and I think both dogs were better for it. We moved her mat from the grass up onto the patio, so there would be even more distance between her and the dog--as well as me and the patio furniture so the dog wouldn't be in her direct sight. I still had to be diligent and give her regular treats to reward her for staying focused and down. In most situations, we can go several minutes between rewards now, but with major triggers like this dog, we have to reward often.
Barley never got into a more relaxed position, but she did quit popping up off her mat. When the little dog saw that we weren't going anywhere, it went back to sniffing it's yard--even though every time it looked up and saw we were still there, it started yapping again. Eventually, the neighbors took it inside and we went back to enjoying the fresh air and sunshine.
|A celebratory jump during our walk.|