|And Mom tried not to feel guilty at not bringing Sadie along.|
She was a rock star! First, she had encounter #1 with another dog as I was letting her off her leash. No reactivity at all! They sniffed, romped a little and then we both went on our separate ways. I let her run around off leash in a field for a little while to burn off some of her energy and practice her recall.
Next, we played with this awesome boiled wool tug toy (6 feet of tug fun!) and got some more of that energy out. It was time to get back on the trail to the river and back on the leash.
We quickly encountered dog #2, who was off leash while Maggie was on. Sniff, sniff, tail wag and off we went down the trail. Excuse me? Did someone swap out my super leash reactive girl with a leash-friendly sweetie pie?? I have not seen her this relaxed on a leash around new dogs since she was a 6 month old pup!
I did a couple things that I think helped her relax. First, I tethered her around my waist rather than holding the leash in my hand. This really seems to help prevent any anxiety I feel when we see another dog from traveling down my arm to her. Second, after the 1st 2 encounters, which I wasn't expecting, I had her sit, look at me and gave her a treat, or two, or three to help her focus on me and associate another dog approaching as a treat-worthy event.
It worked! We approached two other dogs on our way down to and back from the river with zero reactivity. A little raised hair was all I saw. Tail was at half-staff and wagging friendly. Face relaxed, ears back. Woot!
Down at the river, we met a few other pooches, practiced sharing our balls with them and had a grand old time.