Who knew we’d get this far this soon? And with weather and spaying recently and brains falling out and all of those other things? For real, I have an exceptional dog here, because I didn’t really do anything that unusual, except walk on leash as a pup, stop at curbs and steps, do a little bit of exposure to life…and yet, it would appear that something’s clicking in her furry little (well, not so little) head, because she really seems to have the basics, basically down. At least today. It would appear that now, it’s just a matter of lather, rinse, and repeat, plus add complexity…like more dogs, more people, more traffic, more obstacles.
It was no big deal of a trip. We went down to the traffic light at 29th and Raspberry right around the corner, took a right, walked a block to the elementary school at 29th and Cascade, took a right, walked past the front of the elementary school and up two blocks to 31st, a left, one block over to Plum, another left, two blocks back down to 29th by the elementary school on the other side, left onto 29th, up beside the elementary school, left to walk across the front of the school again on Cascade (why in a minute), right onto 30th for a block, right again onto Raspberry back to the traffic light, across Raspberry to our block, left back up Raspberry to 30th, then right onto 30th to home, four houses in. Pretty easy.
She absolutely nailed every single curb. She didn’t run even one. Not an up, not a down, not one single curb.
She didn’t diagonal any street crossings. She didn’t try to diagonal any street crossings. She nailed every single blended curb and sidewalk.
We had some distractions. She handled them beautifully and was easy to redirect.
So here are the highlights.
On 29th between Raspberry and Cascade, Hilda slowed down, then stopped. I thought there must be something, but wasn’t sure what, so I encouraged her forward, and stepped on a downed tree limb. A big one, it would appear. So we stopped, backed up, and I had her re-approach. She stopped again. This time, I just told her to “find the way”, which I’ve just sort of started saying to encourage her to look for a clear path…hey, it was working. She looked around a bit, then turned around. We backtracked, and she went down a driveway into the street. She would have walked right down the middle, or perhaps across, but I sort of coached her towards staying right, along the curb. She seemed to get the idea, because past the tree, she hopped back up onto the curb, we took our left back to our original line, and off we went to the corner of 29th and Cascade and across.
At 30th, we crossed. At the opposite corner, I told her “Forward”, and she decided she wanted to go left instead. Not sure why, because home is to the right. I just stopped, gave a “hupp-up”, waited her out, all of two seconds, and off we went again. Really, most distractions were that easy. Only a couple times did she start pulling to huge excess where I’d have to stop and kind of rein her back in, but that wasn’t even often.
Instead of going all the way up to 32nd where I’d usually go, we took the left at 31st and walked over. Back at 30th again on Plum, there was a dog across the street and down the block a couple houses that had Hilda’s attention. Just in case, I took the leash in my right hand to get her back if I needed to, but I didn’t need to. While she looked, she didn’t head towards the dog. Maybe verbal encouragement helped, but she nailed the crossing.
School wasn’t quite out yet, so it wasn’t a big deal to go up beside the elementary school again. When we got back to Cascade, I decided not to deal with the tree again, so we went back in front of the school again. I heard some kids talking about…sounded like my dog…So I thought i’d go and introduce her. Turned out to be a great opportunity to do stairs. Sure, it was only about six of them, but it was good anyway. I think I’ll use them again, just to reinforce that front paws go on the first step, not the second or third. But even so, she stopped at the steps. I treated at the step, we approached a couple times to reinforce the idea. We then went up. No kids, they were elsewhere and their voices were apparently getting thrown off from wherever, so we turned around. What would she do on the way back down the steps? Turns out she did the right thing: she stopped. Just a step short, but she stopped, and when I encouraged her forward another step, she didn’t overshoot. She had me right at the top step, no problem. Amazing, since the only steps she’s really dealt with much have been the ones at home, and not in harness.
When we got down, some kids came down after. Hilda stepped half in front of me as they were going by. Not on my side, but to our left. It was almost like she wanted to be sure to be out of their way as they went by, or something. It was a bit unusual. As they went by, I got her going, and she slowed right down and stayed behind them. When they ran across the street, she stopped right at the curb and waited for her next direction.
We took the right and went over to Raspberry, but there’s no light there, so not terribly safe to cross. So we took the right to go back to the light to get across. Hilda, however, took it into her head to do a 180 instead, so we reworked it. And she did it perfectly.
The only thing that happened next was that she tried to cut the corner at 29th and Raspberry. Rather than approaching the curb at 29th, she tried to cut the corner and go left to Raspberry and cross. Nope, that isn’t allowed! But love the initiative.
The rest of the way home was great, and she even nailed the walk up to our steps. It’s easy and tempting to cut the corner too close, but she didn’t.
I really couldn’t be happier with this trip, really I couldn’t. It was just so amazing to see all the pieces clicking in her head like that, especially since I don’t feel as though I did anything much.
One kind of interesting thing. Putting the harness on, she kind of barks like she doesn’t like it, sort of the way she does when brushing her legs or tail. Just the one time, and then she’s fine, and only sometimes. I thought she might not like it because it was too tight, but I loosened, and same reaction. Sorry Jewel, I think there really is such a thing as body sensitivity. No big, really, I think she’ll be fine and get used to it, because once she’s dressed, she seems to be fine.