My name is Roxanne, and I hug my dogs … a lot. After learning how much dogs hate hugs, I’ve tried to stop, but it’s very hard. Maybe we should form a support group.
Lilly slunk her way onto the training field and took up her position under the shade netting, against the fence. Her body, her face, her mouth looked fairly relaxed … at least from a distance. Up close, however, a different story . Her pupils dilated. Tiny, uncontrolled tremors. Heart racing. I pretty much knew she wouldn’t run any of the exercises, but I thought she might settle in and just watch. I was wrong.
Last Friday, I took Lilly to watch a 60 weave pole challenge. We sat way off to the side in the shade under a tree to keep her stress level as low as possible. As always, I clicked and treated her for staying calm, looking at other dogs without responding, etc. She did great, and yet … a competitor asked us a favor.
There are two kinds of fear. Fast fear and slow fear. (FYI – slow fear takes a whopping 24 milliseconds.) Either way, Lilly can react faster than I can even process what she’s seen or heard. Author Temple Grandin explains it like this: “The reason fast fear can be so fast is that accuracy is sacrificed for speed. Fast fear gives you a rough draft of reality.”
There is one ball Lilly loves more than any other toy in her sizeable toy basket. I had to teach her to love the ball, but once I did, there was no going back. I now use it to train her to play with new toys or to do agility (at home). Tug on the rope, get the ball as reward, for example. Or, if she’s learning something hard, we’ll take a break and play. However, she gets food rewards when she’s learning something new or when she’s working in public because the ball doesn’t cut it when Lilly feels nervous. She won’t play … at all. And, that fact blows a big hole in the make all learning like play theory (at least now that we’re already in trouble).
I like to think that I’m a good dog-mom. Of course, around here dog care goes well beyond food, water, and shelter. Ongoing behavioral training is another must, especially for Lilly. And, yet, I read something in Temple Grandin’s book, “Animals in Translation,” that stopped me cold.
There’s been a recent crackdown in Denver on restaurants (including coffee shops) that allow dogs in their outdoor patio spaces, which in many cases are just tables and chairs on a sidewalk out front. I guess it’s a health code thing, but it’s not like the dogs are in the kitchen. Such bunk hasn’t made it’s way into my town yet, but I suspect it’s only time. And, that makes me crabby.
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