Not only is this a place that is neat to go to for fun, it is also a GREAT place to do obedience work with the dogs. There are several surfaces to walk on such as pavement, wood docks, and regular dirt trails. There are birds, deer, water, fish, and all kinds of things to distract a dog. Many people walk out there, so there are also many dogs as well. The dogs are our biggest challenge.
I had mentioned in my previous training notes that I was having difficulty with Topher overcoming the meet and greet a neutral dog portion for our therapy dog test. Actually, he was doing really well until one class when he got very intimidated by some aggressive dogs. We had to start over at that point. Wes took Topher for our next class and used only a buckle collar on him. He did fine with Wes, but still was more protective when working with me. I thought I would start using a Halti Gentle Leader on him to give me a little more control in those "big dog" situations. Topher really got his feelings hurt by that. He hung his head low and didn't have the happy, want to please personality about him. What I realized is that Topher is an excellent dog. He walks very nicely on a loose leash. He is friendly and obeys commands well. A Halti is too much for such a good dog. Kris, our mentor, told me about a special front buckle harness she uses on her dogs. It offers the dog a lot of freedom to work on their own, but because the straps go over the shoulders, it offers the handler a little extra control if needed. We went and bought one yesterday and Topher does EXCELLENT with it!
While walking today, we encountered probably seven or eight dogs, including two German Shepherds. I point out German Shepherds so much because we are around them a lot in class. German Shepherds are unique because they are very loyal to their handlers, they don't particularily like another dog coming in their domain, and they are bred to be protective. Given that aggressive instinct, Topher has been intimidated by many, many German Shepherds. I by no mean think GSDs are bad dogs. They are just a big hurdle to overcome for Topher. Using my new harness today, Topher was able to walk past EVERY dog we encountered and not cross over in front or behind me. He heeled the entire walk. When we came up on another dog, I gave him the command "leave it", I tightened my leash to put pressure on his chest to let him know I meant business, and we walked past. I can't say it was perfect, but it was worth a passing grade I believe. He did get a little whiny with a couple of the dogs that were very hyper and pulling toward him. He did much better with the small dogs than the big dogs. He barked once when a dog was pulling towards us and barking. I was not happy that he did that, but he did still remain on my right side, he did not cross my center line, he heeled the entire time, and he walked past with me. I was so proud of him!
When we finished working on Government Island, I walked Topher up to the horse stables and let him meet two horses. He was a little unsure of them at first, but he eventually laid down right in front of me. He did not smell them. If we were there a little longer, he would have probably sniffed their noses. Wes had to go to work though, so we weren't there long. I am excited to take him back to see the horses and walk on Government Island...maybe tomorrow. I hope the weather is nice again. We're supposed to get snow by Tuesday. What a tease today was!!!!
I love my Topher and Tanker very much. I was just talking to my good friend today about how I couldn't wait to start therapy work with them and use them as advocates for shelter/rescue dogs. Rescue dogs sometimes get a bad rap for being in the shelter. I see shelter dogs as diamonds in the rough. They are usually loving and appreciative of the life you gave them. Topher and Tanker are prime examples of that.
|Working hard on Government Island.|