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Weekly Training Update (April 3)

Lilly’s trip to town Sunday went better than last time, where noises conspired against us. She never went into flee mode from fear, but there were several times that my sweet, fearful girl became molasses s-l-o-w, which means she’s stressed. The problem was Trail Hogs. But, the day got better when we ran into Tom and talked him into taking us to lunch. And, when we went for a walk with Katie, Lilly’s best dog friend.

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Trail Hog (noun): An oblivious person or group of people, with our without dogs, who either stop somewhere, block the entire trail or split and move to BOTH sides, which requires anyone else passing by to run the gauntlet up the middle or swing way wide to get around.

Most times we ended up going through these many groups of Trail Hogs we came across because of muddy, wet, sloppy conditions following last week’s non-blizzard snow storm made going around them daunting.

You’d think these clueless people would catch on they are in the way when:

A) I slow down, call Lilly to me, and look at them expectantly to offer a speck of trail.

Praise, reward with food, and lure Lilly through the tiny sliver of space we can find.

But, no, they mostly laugh and loom at this poor cowering beast trying to make her way through the crowd.

Maybe I should try the trick bikers use and holler, “On your left.”

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Finding Daddy

After our walk, I popped into a store to look at some things, and I ran into Tom. He was out running errands too. Neither of us knew the other was stopping at this particular store.

Lilly LOVES to find Tom when we’re in town. She is so accustomed to it just being us girls that she goes OUT OF HER MIND to see Tom away from home.

So, we snuck back out to my car so that he could surprise her. She screamed, jumped, wiggled, and kissed him. She even started howling, which made people all over the lot stop and look.

We used our girlish charms to convince Tom to take us to lunch. I’m not sure he’s ever had the chance to see Lilly show off her Patio Dog Skills, so he was very impressed with how sweet she was, just laying at our feet. It wasn’t challenging at all because it’s early enough in the season that there were few people choosing to eat outside and no other dogs around.

Still, it was totally fun.

***
A Walk with Katie

Miss Katie, Lilly’s best friend the Borzoi, is on restrictions due to a swollen wrist, so she cannot play willy-nilly, but she can go for leash walks, so we went over and grabbed her when we got home from our date in town.

Being so cooped up, Katie was a WILD MONKEY, so it took some concentration to deal with her and Lilly at the same time since I almost always have just one dog with me. I’m happy to report that Lilly was a ROCK STAR and stayed perfectly at my right side, without any fuss.

That helped a LOT, since I had Katie on my left. We didn’t go far since Katie is nursing a boo-boo, but it was nice for the girls to have some time together. Katie only did a few bombing pokes with her needle nose at Lilly, who just smiled.

***
Scent Work

As research for an pet magazine article, I got some really good advice on teaching scent work. We hope to start working on it soon, so I’ll try to shoot some video to help explain what and why we’re doing what we’re doing. Stay tuned!

The first couple days didn’t go so well. Maybe I’m terrible at teaching scents, but we’ll see. Either way, it’s a shaping game.

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Dog-geek - April 6, 2009

I bet if you just asked the trail hogs to give you a little space because your dog is scared, they would happily oblige! I think most of the time people are just totally clueless about how their behavior might be affecting others around them, but they don’t mean any harm and are happy to help if asked!

KB - April 4, 2009

Maybe those trail hogs need you to lure *them* with food! You could toss candy bars off to the side of the trail so they’d all run to get them. Then, you could slip by. Just kidding…

I have the same pet peeve in on-leash areas. I especially feel it when I’m walking a young wild dog (e.g., R) who might jump on people who come too close.

I’m excited to hear about the scent work. That might be fun for K. Our only scent work has been our ‘find it’ game when I hide (or accidentally drop) objects on or near a trail. Then, I tell her to ‘find it’ and she brings me anything that has my scent. Her behavior has convinced me that she’s using her nose to find the objects.

Samantha - April 3, 2009

Hi Roxanne,

Just read your interview on Fearful Dogs’ Blog, so that’s how I got connected to this site. Just wanted to say that I’m glad I stumbled across it. There are many cool dog blogs out there, but very few actually deal with the training aspect of dog ownership.

As the the owner of a dog with some fear issues, I definitely appreciate this blog. Keep up the good work, and I can’t wait to read more.

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