I desperately wanted to post about it at that moment, but I also didn't want to skip all of the Week 4 and 5 updates or the walking updates because they were so important to getting us to where we're at now.
Their first play session (which was not recorded in case I had to jump in and break things up) happened very organically. The night before, Barley and I had gone to agility and our trainer had asked how things were going and if they'd been off leash together yet. When I said no, she said she thought it was time, so she'd check with our reactive dog trainer who has a boarding facility with several dog runs to see if we could use her runs. That way they could be loose with a fence between them just to watch body language first and then we'd put them in a small dog yard together.
As I mentioned in Week 3, Rye's crate moved into the bedroom so we are all sleeping in the same room. While we were at my parents, we used the same crate for both dogs for a lot of our feeding sessions--when it was time to swap, someone would come hold Barley while I took Rye out of the crate and then they'd stick Barley in the crate for me. By the time we left, we'd gotten to the point where I could hold Barley myself, open the crate, let Rye out, and send Bar in. Sometimes, Rye would sniff Barley a little bit before she went in the crate and Barley was very tolerant of that as long as I was petting her and holding her collar. We'd keep that to a few seconds to keep Barley from getting overwhelmed and then I'd put her in the crate and we'd go back to the meal.
The day after talking to our trainer, I was getting ready to take Rye outside when we woke up. Barley was loose in the room, so I held her collar and then let Rye out of the crate. I let her sniff Barley for a second and was about to send her out of the room so I could have Barley sit and stay while I shut the door behind us when Barley bowed. I was still holding her collar and I was kind of in shock, so I didn't let go immediately and Barley laid down on the ground. Rye bounced and bowed in front of her. Barley scooted around on the floor a bit, so I let go of her collar.
Mostly, it was like watching a low-budget professional wrestling match. Just like in the video, Barley for the most part stayed on her belly and just scooted around. Rye danced around and they took turns putting their mouths over each other's heads. Sometimes, Barley would stick her head under Rye and flip her or stand up and put a paw on her shoulder when she got tired of being slobbered on. Eventually, I took the video above and emailed it to our trainer. She was thrilled and left a voicemail analyzing all of the positive aspects of Barley's actions. I'm so so proud of my Barley dog.
Off-leash time together is still very, very limited and very, very supervised. Rye doesn't know when to stop and when Barley gives her an "okay, I'm done signal" a lot of times, Rye stops for half a second and then she's coming back for more, so I try to end every session with a sit or a down and then everyone goes to their separate spaces. We've had a few of these sessions every day since the first playtime.
|I'm done playing. Please just let me sleep on this cat quilt.|
I'm hoping that now that Rye has started obedience, her self-control around other dogs will be stronger and we'll have times when both dogs can just relax off-leash, but so far relaxing is still a foreign idea to Rye.
|Girls just want to have fun, right?|
It's too bad the summer-like weather we had in Alabama didn't follow us home because some warmer weather might also help with the cabin fever that everyone--especially Rye--is feeling this week. A few more walks and longer play times in the yard combined with training sessions could be the key to wearing her out a bit. Keep your fingers crossed that Mother Nature has mercy on us soon.
We'll keep you posted on the progress we make with living life off-leash, but I think our weekly updates have officially come to an end. For now, we're still hand feeding meals when there's time--although we've moved to occasionally doing it with both dogs out of the crate/on the same side of the gate--to continue to build value for being around each other and being calm around each other. We'll also continue to walk together when the weather permits. When there's progress worth reporting, I'll post updates and I'm sure there will be plenty of Instagram posts about day-to-day progress, so be sure to follow along there!
Thank you all for all of the kind words of encouragement throughout this process so far!