Risa and I have been to several doggy events lately ranging from freestyle demonstrations at pet fesitvals/fundraisers to lure coursing. These events have been full of other dogs which is always a tough spot for Risa given her history of reactivity and fear. Lately, she’s taking it all in stride. At one of the demos, I pretty much gave up trying to keep her away from the other dogs. She let me know she was okay greeting and saying “Hi.” If she got a little uncomfortable, she simply turned and walked away. For the most part, however, she greeted normally and everything went perfectly. It was like she had no issues at all. I was pleasantly surprised and proud of my girlie for overcoming her fear of other dogs. In fact, one of the dogs she greeted tried to entice her to play. Her confidence level isn’t quite high enough to initiate play with a dog she barely knows yet so she simply turned and walked away. I felt so bad for her would-be playmate though. He was so sad she didn’t want to play with him!
It warms my heart to see Risa more relaxed and less concerned with dogs invading her space bubble. I was proud when someone used Risa as a distraction dog for training their own dog. (She is a complete lunatic when there’s coursing going on.) I was even more amazed when the guy petted Risa while his dog was right there. Usually, that triggers guarding behavior in Risa. While she wasn’t 100% comfortable, she didn’t snark at his dog.
Which brings up something I need to continually be careful about with Risa’s newfound gregariousness. I still need to make sure she doesn’t get in over her head or we’ll be right back to square one. Even though she wants to see other dogs and is capable of greeting them nicely, I need to make sure when she feels threatened or otherwise scared that I get her out of there before something bad happens. I didn’t advocate for her in the beginning when she was scared and I left her hanging in that situation. She learned to take things into her own paws because I didn’t. So I need to remind myself that, even though she’s more confident and comfortable, I have to still monitor the situation and take control of it. Even though she’s doing a pretty good job of just walking away on her own. 🙂