Saturday, March 7, 2015

I took all four dogs to the dog park and no one died.

Two marvelous things happened on Friday. I found myself with the day off, and it was nice out.

After a long Minnesota weather, I was eager to get out of the house, and I figured the dogs were, too, so I made the decision to take them all to the dog park. I don't usually take Napi to the dog park because of all the crazy, but I decided to take the risk for a number of reasons:
  1. The dog park we go to is huge and wooded, limiting the amount of interaction you have with other dogs,
  2. It was the middle of the day on a weekday, further limiting the number of folks that would be there,
  3. Napi seems to have the highest energy level of my dogs, meaning he needed the exercise most, and
  4. I wanted to see how he was doing on the meds.
This probably isn't something I'd recommend others do, but at the same time... well, it was nice out. And you can't keep your dogs in a bubble; you need to provide challenges from time to time. And it was nice out. Yeah, mostly we went because of cabin fever. I decided that we'd leave early if Napi really couldn't handle it, and I made him drag a leash so that if he was a jerk, I could easily intervene. (And I did several times.)

Napi actually did fairly well. Here's a video of early on in our park trip:



And here's one from the end of the park visit:



Both videos suck from a cinematic standpoint; I was more focused on him vs. keeping him in the frame. Sorry about that. Anyway, he did better the longer we were there - the opposite of how Maisy is/was.

In the first video, he was barking at that other dog. He would actually snap at other dogs that he thought were threatening. A few times he was right - one dog was super stiff in its body language, and another was bothering Maisy - and a few times I think he was just guarding me/my treats/his buddy Pyg.

The second video is even cooler. You can see him stiffen up when he sees another dog approaches (it's a Springer, not that you can tell), and he then chooses to come to me for a treat. So does the other dog, but Napi only growled a tiny bit (I can't even hear it on the video).

What these videos tell me is that while Napi still has a long way to go, he's making nice progress. He's learning to think a bit before reacting. He's able to exercise some small amounts of self control. He can recover quicker from stress than he could before. He sees me as a safe person he can depend on.

Despite all this, the dog park will not be a regular part of Napi's life. He's still practicing more bad behavior than I'd like, and besides, the park will only get busier and more crowded as it gets nicer out. I don't want to risk a dog fight, and I do think that's a distinct possibility. Still, it's nice to celebrate success with a reactive dog.



2 comments:

Chris and Mike said...

Way to go, Napi, and good for you, Crystal, for giving everyone an outdoor break! You-all have had quite a winter from what we hear on the news.

It's so great to see resilience is beginning to develop, isn't it?! As you well know, it's a very tender seedling, and I know you'll nurture it carefully. Your foursome are so fortunate to have you!

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