Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Reactivity success and failure on the same day.

Luna, 12 months old, showing her 'eek! a dog!' pose. This was before I woke up and realized I should help her cope with these things. These days, she rarely looks like this.
Investigating the scary dog with 10-year-old 'brother' Cedric. She looks like she's about to bolt if that dog makes a sudden move.
Yesterday started out well; on our morning walk, which included taking 15-year-old Westie Cedric with us, we met a lady with a blonde and a black Lab. Both are females, and Luna has met them before. Still, I know she is weary of the black one, so I took a moment to think about what best to do before lady and dogs reached us.

If we hadn't had Cedric with us, I might have just let Luna Sit and play 'Look At That', but I knew that wouldn't feel safe enough for her in this situation. So, I crouched down with her, put my arm around her and we watched together as the lady and her dogs approached. I talked nicely to Luna, and she appeared quite soft; ears down, a slightly smiley face, and she was wagging her tail in a happy fashion. The dogs reached us and I made sure to keep on touching and talking to Luna as both dogs came to say 'hi'. She continued to be soft and wiggly, frequently turning back to me to say 'thanks for helping me'. At some point she got a little bit far away from me to investigate the black Lab and she had a moment of snarky face ('I think you're scary and I might bark in your face'), but she made no sound and came back to me quickly when I called her name. Yay, Luna!

The lady said I should also cuddle 'the little one' (Cedric), and I said; 'yeah, but he doesn't think this is scary' (not to mention that he hardly noticed the dogs due to blindness and deafness). The lady asked me what made Luna think this was scary, and I said, 'the black dog'. Then, the lady said 'ah, a preference'. I didn't respond to that, as this was the moment where Luna had a snarky face, and after solving that I got up and we said goodbye.

So, why DOES Luna think black dogs are scary? I think she has good reason to; almost all dogs that have been rude or unfriendly to her were black, and a Giant Schnauzer chased after her once and collided with her back end, which ended in a bruised backside for my girl. She'd alternately limp on one of her hind legs, and she kept her tail very stiffly when I tried to manipulate it. Thankfully she recovered from this very well (never got to speak to the owner about this, sadly) and it hasn't bothered her since. Like I said though, black dogs to her mean 'rude, nasty and pain'.

Then, yesterday on our walk before dinner, again with Cedric, we met two off-leash, boisterous, rude black Labs and two (one of which off-leash) Parson Russel sized mixes. We've met all four of these dogs before, and Luna doesn't feel comfortable with any of them. We couldn't evade them (well, I realize now we could have gone back the way we came, although with a slow 15-year-old in tow they probably would've caught up with us) and for some reason I did not feel like having Luna Sit and do 'Look At That'. So, I just kind of marched through these dogs as quickly as we could, which resulted in Luna lunging at one of the Labs, barking at one of the mixes and coming out the other end with her hackles raised as high as they could go and her tail up. Oops. I'm sorry, little girl...

Ghaaa! I hate when I do things like that. I KNOW she can't cope with that and yet I put her through it anyway.

Also, I'm thinking of buying a front-clip harness for these walks with Cedric. That way I won't be pulling on her neck when I decide to be a bad mommy and let her 'fix' things on her own.

Again, sorry pup...

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