April 28, 2014
“I have the bestest dog in the whole world!”
That’s what I said to Greg when A.J. and I got back from our walk this morning. A.J. spent most of the walk distracted by birds, and he still isn’t heeling well at all. But…
We were walking down the street and a man was on the other side of the street coming towards us. He had two big dogs. As we got closer one of his dogs started to lunge at the end of the leash, growling and barking and carrying on. A.J. glanced at him, looked away, glanced, looked away. He did GREAT! The other dog walker had to stop and grab his dog and try to get him under control. I felt so bad for him because I’ve been there (not all that long ago), but I was SO proud of my boy!!
We didn’t have such good luck over the weekend. It seems A.J. is worse when Greg and I walk him together. On Friday we saw another dog across the street that wasn’t reacting at all. A.J. started staring him down. I tried to correct him, but I wasn’t getting through, and he finally threw a tantrum. I gave him some corrections, but I forgot to continue past the tantrum like Jerry had told me. It was a step back because the last time A.J. and I had passed dogs he’d done well. Then Sunday morning we took a chance and took him for a short distance on the Greenbelt. We had to walk right past another dog. A.J. was doing well until just before we passed, then he lunged and barked. This time he got serious corrections, and I carried it past the reaction to where he stopped and sat and totally submitted.
I don’t know if the big correction yesterday is what settled him down today, or if it was the fact that Greg wasn’t with us, or a combination of both. But this morning I didn’t care. I was SO PROUD OF MY BOY!!
Jerry (who I’m starting to think of as our miracle worker) and his wife Martha came out to work with us tonight. We had a great session. It turned out to be a little bit of a waste for Martha. She came to ride her bike so we could work on A.J.’s reacting to bicycles, but he didn’t really do much. I had to correct him a couple of times when she went by, but he really didn’t do badly at all.
We walked through the neighborhood, Martha getting closer, farther, closer, faster, slower. Then we saw Gracie. Gracie is an adorable little Goldendoodle puppy. Jerry had me walk A.J. toward Gracie, and when we got close A.J. lunged. I corrected him, and Jerry had me do it again. This time Jerry was happy because A.J. started to go but self-corrected. I still popped him right about that time too, which Jerry also said was good to give him a remind that “right, you’re not supposed to go there.”
So we did well with Gracie, and were doing well with the bike. Then it was Greg’s turn. He had almost no trouble at all. The biggest issue was that I hung back and A.J. was trying to keep track of me. We even met up with Gracie again and Greg walked A.J. right past her.
There was a track meet going on at the school next to our neighborhood. There were people everywhere and kids running around all over the place. Greg walked A.J. over there, and we didn’t have a problem. We saw a dog in the parking lot and headed for it. They walked right past, still no problem. I ran past; A.J. wanted to follow, but stayed with Greg. Everything was going great.
Then Greg handed the leash back to me. We decided to go through the middle of the throng. It was a thick enough crowd that walking through without a dog would be a challenge. We were a little over halfway through, A.J. was doing great, and I suddenly realized “Oh my gosh, this is what I’ve always wanted. I’m walking my dog through a crowd of people!” It felt great! It even surprised Jerry, he was sure A.J. would try to go up and greet everybody. But he stayed right with me and was a perfect little guy! Hurray!!!
We came back home and did the final, big test: Greg rode by on his bike. A.J. watched; he wagged his tail as Greg went by; but he never lunged. At the end we had Greg riding on one side, Martha riding on the other side, and A.J. and me right in middle, having no problems at all.
I could not be happier with my dog right now. We should be able to start walking the Greenbelt any day now. YAY!!!!