I’ve been meaning to do this one for a while, but today I actually remembered to whip out my cell phone on a walk (Something I never do: I’m walking my dog to walk my dog, not to play on my phone) and snap some pictures of Peach. For the past two weeks, Peach has been taking longer and longer walks, and being asked to accept more novel experiences while on them. At first, there was a whole lot of cajoling, bribing, and tugging to get her to walk along behind me ten feet away from the house.
Then, we started to cross the road and walk ten feet away instead- this, coincidentally, always lead us past an outside dog who is dog-reactive to large dogs, but generally accepting of small ones, so Peach was able to get some no-pressure experience with interacting with dogs, just by walking past her and looking at her.
Next, we walked up the road a whole block, and turned back. This lead to us being able to walk around the block, and this morning, we went for a longer walk of about 20 minutes around the neighbourhood. This one was hard for Peach, because it was the first time she was asked to walk on a busy road, and there were many cars and trucks driving past that made her nervous. Whenever Peach gets to the point of happily walking ahead of me, I change things up. Life is filled with novel experiences, and I want her to know that a walk will never be the same twice.
So this afternoon, I decided she needed a good, long walk, so we went up our street, and crossed the busy road, and crossed through a quiet neighbourhood with dogs barking indoors. Peach got her first taste of ducks. Our town has lots of ducks, geese, and seagulls, and a small group of ducks was hanging out near the entrance to the bike path. Peach was amazed when they quacked and flew away. More, she wanted more! She was so excited to get onto the bike path and see even more ducks, and the water, and the rocks. It was quiet, and there weren’t other people. She was in her element.
Frankly, being a rather a-social person, so was I. I love a good trail walk or quiet city hike, alone with my thoughts and my dog. It was very refreshing to be able to take a dog for a long walk like that, as my male Pom had had health issues that precluded him from having a good time on a long walk, and my female was reactive to everything under the sun and could never enjoy a walk without having twelve meltdowns.
We were even able to cross over the floating bridge, which Peach bravely peed on and peered into the water over. Once we had crossed it, I saw behind us a woman approaching with her standard Poodle. We continued on, and her and her long-legged dog passed us quickly. Peach was happy to walk alongside the Poodle- about 10 feet separated them- and watch him. It was exciting to her to have company on the walk, that she did not directly have to interact with. I think I may be putting too much stock into solid introductory socialisation with other dogs. Peach is very happy to share space with them, but she wants her own safety bubble, as well.
Our walk ended after we left the bike path and went back up the busy street. By now, Peach was a Master of the Walk, and she was strutting along like she owned everything. A nice lady bent to say hello, and Peach charmed her by licking her fingers and hiding under my coat. She is the kind of pup who needs lots of reassurance, but is happy to enjoy life and the world around her once she has it. We passed all manner of person and loud car, and finally came to our door, where Peach took a final piddle before she came inside to have a snack, and a nap.
Myself, and my 4 pound puppy, were out on our walk in the snow for an hour. She’s a regular itty-witty snow dog.