Last Friday, we took a day trip down to Canyon Lake to visit an old friend of my husband. We had a great time, but I did spend the first couple of hours exploring with Kim. She was too interested to settle down, so we took some trips around the house. I certainly got my steps in that day!
We knew ahead of time that their dog is aggressive, but he’s older and going blind, so they said they would keep him on a leash (which they did) and we’d figure it out. My husband really wanted to go and we don’t have a pet sitter, so we all went.
I did my best to prepare in advance. I kept the few days leading up to the trip pretty calm and began sprinkling Calm-A-Mile on blankets. Kim loves riding in the car, so I didn’t have much to worry about there. In fact, the biggest concern I have when traveling with her is that she is so quiet that my husband forgets she is there.
In the car:
– Kim’s car seat is a bolster-style bed that has a loop to go around the headrest, a loop that secures it under the seat, as well as an attachment that gets pushed through the top and bottom of the seat to keep the whole thing stable.
– I also use a seatbelt loop that the seatbelt goes through, the seatbelt is secured, and there is a carabiner that is attached to her harness.
– I always keep a water bowl for her with fresh water that is in reach whenever she wants it
– I sprinkled a bit of Calm-A-Mile on the sheet that goes on top of the bed.
This is our normal setup, and it has worked for us for many years.
What I packed for this trip:
– Wipes, because you never know!
– Puppy pads, just in case (Kim will use them occasionally and we keep them down in one room of the house for emergencies)
– Evict water mist spray bottle (I wasn’t sure how much foliage we’d encounter at the lake)
– A toy for Kim
– Water & water bowl
– Lots of treats
– Her harness & leash
– An extra blanket
Have you ever seen The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy? Remember how you always had to have your towel with you everywhere you go? Never be caught without it? Yeah, that’s me with blankets in my car.
The visit was interesting, for sure! Their dog, Winston, was more aggressive than we originally thought. This always happens. People downplay their dogs’ behavior until we meet in person, and then all the stories of all the people and dogs that have been bitten come out.
To be fair, Winston is in poor health. He is overweight (severely), eats a fully high processed diet, has back problems, and is going blind at roughly 14 years of age. Even as a trainer, there isn’t much I would do with him. I’d certainly model appropriate behavior and reward for the good behavior, and I’d certainly change his diet (which we spoke about), but because he has so many medical issues, I’d focus on getting him as healthy as possible first.
When Winston and Kim first met, they were both on a leash and about 6 feet apart. Winston started to walk toward Kim, barking, and growling, and she did what she normally does when being approached by a dog, she lunged and barked. She has never bitten anyone, but we have been working with her to alter her behavior. She immediately turned to me as I called her back, walked towards me, and calmed down. Since I called her, I rewarded her for listening and coming when called.
After this first meeting, Kim did really well. Winston, not so much. Kim remained calm the rest of the trip, and I rewarded her often for her good behavior.
I rewarded Winston when he was calm as well, but I kept the treats to a minimum for him due to his weight problem. Winston was aggressive the entire time, with the one exception I caught in this picture! Kim had settled in for a quick nap next to me, and Winston came over and plopped down for a nap underneath of us. I had to capture the moment!
All in all, it was a good day and a great opportunity to train with Kim around another dog. After their initial meeting, Kim was curious and not at all aggressive, so I count it as a huge win!
Sometimes we just have to roll with the punches and do the best we can. As anxious as I was prior to the trip. I’m so glad we did it. Kim doesn’t get much interaction with other dogs, but I am looking to start pack walks again in the Spring.
How does your dog do around other dogs?