You know the sort I mean, the ones where you just can’t catch a break?
Maybe you haven’t experienced it in terms of dog walks (especially if you don’t have a dog haha) but you’ve probably had a day where anything that could go wrong has.
We had one of those walks today.
Raiden is 8 months old and very much an excitable puppy.
The world gets him excited, and he is in training to help him cope with everything that goes on.
On today’s walk he found a hair scrunchie, and we made a game of him dropping it, getting it and chasing it…we rounded a corner and far up ahead there was a GSD and someone with a very reactive Staffy, and the owner lets it off lead anywhere and everywhere.
We turned (Raiden responded to “let’s go!” immediately) and began walking in the opposite direction, rewarding Raiden every time he turned away from the dogs and, if he was getting too focused, asking him to carry on and rewarding him then.
Raiden was entirely calm whilst watching the dogs, he didn’t pull on lead at all and only watched for about 5 seconds.
After a few minutes of this we were able to go up a side track to let them pass. As we were going back to join the road we met a vocal Basset Hound, and had to turn again – Raiden was more excited this time and did once run to the end of the lead and pull, but that was all and he still redirected easily.
We decided to stay away from the road and walk the path by the fields, as the road was too busy.
We were having a nice calm pootle when four horses sprinted down the field (they had been so far away we couldn’t see them) and ran right up to the fence and stared at us – Raiden got excited.
Pulling, some whining, but he did come away and once we were about 12ft away he was able to watch calmly.
As we were going back to the road to head home a man pulled up on the very narrow lane right next to us, proceeded to get out of his car, and talk at Raiden…oh ffs world.
Finally a motorbike sped around a blind corner, on a road with no pavement, and almost hit us. We came home and ended the walk…Raiden did good, the world did not 😛
In the house I began training Raiden for the first task I’d like him to do as my unofficial Emotional Support Animal / Service Dog.
We don’t have ESA or Service / Assistance Dogs for people with mental health disabilities in the UK, which means I couldn’t get a service dog to help with my Bipolar / psychosis. Part of the reason we thought about adding Raiden to the family was so he could help me…and he already has, he just hasn’t been trained to do any of it yet!
(there are LOTS of ways that a service / assistance dog can help those suffering from complex mental illnesses)
Today we started work on him interrupting me if I was very depressed.
When I’m at my lowest I tend to hide my head in my hands / arms. I just curl up and get lost in my thoughts and try ground myself. Today I started teaching Raiden how to interrupt me when I was in that pose.
Because Raiden’s a small dog he can easily jump at me without hurting, so that’s what I wanted him to do…I can’t ignore a jumping dog, I am more likely to focus on him if he jumps at me and I can move on to teaching him to sit on me, lick my face etc.
So far I cover my face and mutter encouragement (nothing specific because there won’t be a verbal cue for this, it’s more he sees that pose and knows to do it), and Raiden will jump up and put his paws against my head!
Click and treat for the little guy 🙂
Here he is being chilled…whenever we get treats out or are handling food, his default is to lie down / offer ‘settle’, usually on some furniture!