Just as we were doing so well with the dogs' socialisation training! I had got them into a nice little routine, Daisy and Louis first for an hour, then Roxy and Bertie for an hour. Sometimes I'd hike the uphill trail with them, sometimes I'd walk or run the flatter, narrower, leafier trail with them. It was all going great. Most of the people and dogs we met were very cool and they socialised pretty well, given that they were not restrained on the lead and were on neutral territory. Except for Louis of course who was snarly, growly and lungy the first few times but even he was starting to improve.
But yesterday we suddenly came across kids and adults on bikes and Louis and Daisy were scared to death. Louis freaked out and put the brakes on in the middle of the trail and wouldn't move, yet the bikers just kept on coming at them. Erm, hello, I thought the rules of the trails were that bikers give way to pedestrians and horses? And yet they had the cheek to look pissed when I asked them to wait a moment as the dogs were terrified and I needed to get them under control. The kids were great of course, but one of the two guys with them looked very put out. I mean, come on! So that was that, and we all got over it.
But then today for some reason Louis and Daisy took a dislike to a couple who were walking their dog. I didn't see them in time to rein Louis in fully on the long line and Daisy, offlead, barked at them, quite close up. Louis started snarling at them even though he was a way away. The couple started acting nervy which I don't blame them for, but it did make things worse. All you have to do folks is just ignore and walk right on. That is what works. You freak out, the dogs freak out, that's how it goes. As I calmly moved Louis and Daisy away I heard the woman exclaim "oh my goodness!" as if they were the worst, out of control monsters on the planet. I was unimpressed. Although I was disappointed with the dogs for not handling the situation better, I was more disappointed with myself for not pre-empting it better. And yet, when they have met other people and those people have been calm and relaxed, the issue has not arisen. We've even made some friends out on the trails, believe it or not!
Bertie and Roxy, usually the better pairing, also barked right in the faces of a couple of runners yesterday. Thankfully the runners were just awesome, stood still, ignored them and calmly waited till I moved the dogs on. The way people respond makes such a difference and it was all over in a flash. But you can't expect everyone to react the right way.
So I decided we'd better all go back a step. We'll go back to the one on one training on the canyon trail. The weather seems to be getting cooler which means more people seem to be out and about, and one dog alone is firstly a lot easier to control and secondly, behaves a lot differently. They are a lot more confident in a pair. And it just means I'll get even fitter which can't be a bad thing.
- ▼ September (14)