I’m stealthy as a ninja and possess the superpower of foresight. Well, not really, but I did get you to click on the link and read this blog post. Though I am not a superhero, I am a pet parent of a reformed leash-reactive pup – a role that requires me to be a little sly, artfully proactive and always alert.
I can’t get lost in a thought, fumble around with or talk on my cell phone when I am out walking my dog Emmett. But earlier this week, I allowed myself to drift into a daydream while walking Emmett. I’m not proud of it, but it happened. It was rainy and dreary outside and I didn’t anticipate much human or human/dog traffic. In the midst of my mindless musings, I heard a jingling noise behind me, and noticed a runner in the corner of my eye. She wasn’t alone. Running at full speed toward me and Emmett was her dog. The dog was a leash-length + the runner’s arm ahead of her. Large dog moving quickly head on toward Emmett was a recipe for disaster.
To avoid Emmett going over threshold, I quickly created as much distance as possible and started to distract him with treats as we waited for the runner and her dog to pass us by. To my surprise, the runner and her dog stopped briefly very close to us, turned and started running in the direction they came from. As Emmett and I watched them run back, I was able to do some classical conditioning work (look at a dog > look at me and get a treat). And although the entire encounter was difficult for my dog, I’m proud to report that he remained under threshold the entire time…minus a few grumbles. All of this could have been easily avoided, if the runner and her dog turned back further away from me.
All of us are familiar with scenarios like the one I just described. Those who have dogs that we in the business refer to as “bomb-proof” dogs may say, “What’s the big deal?” On the lip side, those of us with behaviorally-challenged dogs, think these types of situations are a big deal. The consequences of such an encounter could range from a minor regression to a major setback in the dog’s (already compromised) behavior. I believe the main reason is a lack of dog owner awareness. Dog owners are not stepping on each other’s paws (see what I did here?) due to lack of consideration. They simply don’t know. The majority of the public has very little understanding of dog behavior. And while I’m not asking each dog owner take a dog behavior course, I am recommending that we observe a few commonsense principles that would make life much easier for all involved:
I'm Tatiana. As a dog trainer, I am dedicated to building a bond of trust and respect between dogs and their humans created through positive reinforcement training, and nurtured by clear leadership, patience and love. I want to help people to better understand their dogs, connect with them, and most importantly advocate for them.