Just had a bit of a nightmare walk; luckily Raiden handled it like a star.
If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you will know that when Raiden was young he wasn’t socialised very well with other dogs, and as a result he gets over-excited (and vocal!) around them.
There are two reasons for this:
1. There are no puppy classes in our area where the puppies are allowed to interact with each other, at all. We didn’t need help with the training side of things, we needed Rey to meet other dogs!!
The puppy parties at vets were truly disastrous (see here!) and almost all the dogs we saw in our area were NOT suitable to see a puppy – either fearful, reactive, or outright aggressive.
2. When Zoey was ill Raiden pretty much missed out on two entire months of socialisation possibilities, from the age of 4-6 months old.
So, at a year old, he is excitable and can yap around other dogs when he gets too close and too excited. He can remain calm when walking past a dog when the dog is as close as 6ft away, and we do let him say hi to appropriate dogs…but there’s still a lot of training, redirection, and patience involved.
To show you how good he does though, I don’t remember the last time he yapped or got over-excited when seeing a dog, and if there’s an obnoxious off lead dog and we’re having to carry Rey, he rocks at keeping calm.
(cute pics, just ‘cos!)
Well. Today all that was very much tested.
We were walking through a field and managed to avoid twelve small dogs playing off lead together – extremely vocal, rough and tumble, and they were also off lead in a field that had sheep and horses in it.
We got to the end of the field avoiding them, and Raiden did some fantastic engage-disengage with horses, sheep, and all the dogs playing.
Here he is calmly watching them, they are at the edge of the field, level towards the houses:
We prepared to go into the next field, when we saw it was FULL of not only sheep, but mother cows with some very young looking calves too. We thought it better not to risk passing through and upsetting them, so turned to head back the way we had come – the twelve dogs were moving to the opposite exit anyway.
We walked slowly back through, giving them plenty of time to sod off, and I got Raiden to pose next to the stick of tyres that scared him when he was a baby!!
Anyway, the owners and group of dogs stood by the gate for about ten minutes as we just did training with Rey, then began coming back towards us – uuuuugh!
We began immediately looping to the left to increase the distance between us and them. We got to about 200ft from them, but then a horse started running to us, so we made the decision to pick Rey up and walk a little closer to the group of dogs – about 160ft from them still.
What do you know, the dogs began running over…at first it was just a few, but soon it was all of them.
They all circled us, yapping and barking. They jumped up, scrabbled at our legs, and even nipped at our ankles. We could hardly walk for them.
After about 30 seconds of their owners (still 160ft away) making zero effort to get their dogs, I yelled “GET YOUR DOGS PLEASE!” and we continued towards the gate, being bitten and jumped on, and constantly praising Raiden and feeding him treats.
Here you can see video footage of the dogs surrounding us, being vocal, and towards the end (after 3 minutes of doing this) the owners came and tried to get their dogs. Only they couldn’t.
They yelled at the dogs, grabbed at them (one of the dogs snapped at the owner!) and just could not get them at all. Here it is:
These are the types of dogs we meet. These are the things our dogs are put through, and that makes walks incredibly difficult.
It is extremely hard to socialise puppies, as the vast, vast majority of dogs we see are untrained, have bad manners, or are aggressive. We don’t know anybody who has a well socialised stable dog, and so we do the best we can with what we have.
If your dog runs up to people off lead, and actually jumps up at them – they should not be off lead unless their recall is very good.
If your dog is vocal, circles people, or bites at them – you do not let them off lead unless you are 99% certain they will come when you call them.
You shouldn’t let your dog run up to another dog without checking that’s okay.
You most certainly shouldn’t let your dog run up to someone who has picked their dog up, where your dog persists in circling and jumping at them. This is not fair on the owner or the dog they are carrying – there’s a reason they are being carried, be it over-excitement, aggression, or illness.
You should NEVER let a dozen dogs off lead together when NONE of them have recall.
I mean come on, is this not common sense?!?!
Thankfully, as I said at the start, Raiden handled it brilliantly. No squirming, yapping, or screaming, just some very minimal quiet whining. Pretty much emptied all our treats on that though 😉
Also, my partner got told earlier today to ring 111 back and ask to speak to a GP via them, so they could give us detailed advice. He just called 111 and told the assessor about how I felt panicked; she made me do lots of stupid things (eg. hold my arms in the air for 10 seconds?!) and then said she was sending an ambulance out to take me to A&E.
Like, what the actual fuck?!
My partner brilliantly explained that crap appts and our experience at A&E greatly added to my panic, and that it would be absolutely the wrong thing to do. He argued her down very firmly, and now a nurse is going to call him back.
I am already done with trying to get help from the NHS again…