Tag Archives: socialising

We Are Constantly Reminded . . .

Little Monkey Walk 1

Little Monkey Walk 1

. . . There is one born every minute!

 

Since Little Monkey had her lumpies removed and still has stitches on her chest and leg, I have not been letting her run free, madly like a maniac, but have been walking her round the neighbourhood on her lead.

We had just completed one nice long walk and were approaching home again. We had stopped at the edge of the kerb, LM sitting, and I was just about to cross the road when I noticed a woman with a large cream coloured dog walking towards us and just about to pass our house. (So there was no way I could nip inside my property and be safe.)

Little Monkey needs lots of space with any unknown dog, so I backed up and took LM a good 10 metres down the road and got her to lie down, positioning myself in front of her. I figured the woman was probably going to go the other way to the cut-through, so this was my best bet.

Unfortunately, the woman did not go the other way, but came in our direction.

Worse than that, she crossed the road and headed straight for us!

Seriously?

Here was a woman with a very large dog, I think a cross between a lab and something massive like a Boerboel, who had no control over her dog, as it was out in front and pulling her towards us.

Now, I assessed her dog as not aggressive, but dominant, and certainly uncontrolled. Little Monkey, as you know, hasn’t a mean bone in her body, but is super anxious with other dogs she doesn’t know. What she does is leap in the air and bark, which often causes the other dog to react. If she’s out on a field off-lead, she tends to run straight at them barking, veer off a good 5 metres away from them and then trot back to me. No contact, unless they decide to sort her out!

Well, I am so used by now to other dog owners either not having a clue about dog behaviour, or simply not caring. The moment that the woman crossed the road and headed straight for us, I took LM across the road, keeping her the other side of me and keeping myself between the dogs, so I at least had control over any potential dog interaction. This way I managed to keep a reasonable distance between the dogs as we sort of circle danced our way past each other.

The woman still had no clue whatsoever.

I called out, as I always do, “Sorry, but my dog is scared,” and smiled.

“Oh, no problem,” she answered.

And I wonder if anything she has just witnessed or heard will alter her behaviour in the future. But I doubt it.

We are constantly reminded, there is one born every minute.

 

post script: You can check out LM in more natural behaviour in The Dog Walk.

 

How to – with Little Monkey. No1. Exit the House

I suppose you simply switch on the alarm and leave? Let me tell you how it goes with Little Monkey.

First, catch the dog. Little Monkey knows when it is walk time. So she takes the opportunity to hare madly round the garden, rushing up to you every circuit and leaping up to springboard off your body with her feet.

Once I’ve stopped this and got her inside and sitting on her mat, we can progress to the front door. More leaping in the air all four feet off the ground. Sit again. Pick up the lead. Leap. Sit! In the meantime put Mr Spaghetti Leg’s lead on. He is now standing nose to the door ready to go. Finally get the lead on Little Monkey. SIT!

Open the door. Dogs must not move. I get my keys, hat etc Dogs must stay calm, and the Idiot sitting. When I am ready, Little Monkey must look at me, then I nod, and we calmly exit the front door.

Now we face the same procedure at the security gate. Little Moneky knows to instantly sit, and to wait. I unlock the gate, and slowly open it. Dogs must not move. I then close the front door, we calmly exit the security gate and I turn around and lock it. This procedure must happen even if there is a squirrel in the garden, and Little Monkey desperately wants to chase it.

So far so good. We are one metre into our walk.

Next, a slow amble down the garden path. Dogs to the side, No pulling on the lead. Any of that and it is an instant sit and wait all over again. At the little side gate (where there is no gate any more) I go through first. No pulling. Now we are at the garage doors. Little Monkey sits, loose lead, and waits. I let Mr SL stand, since he is old and wobbly and does not pull on the lead anyway.

I open the automatic gate a little. Dogs do not move. When I say so, we walk forward and I go through first (sticking my head out and looking up and down the road for DOGS!). There is a lamp post right outside our house. Instant sit for Little Monkey.

Great! The walk is about to begin. How many sits and stays was that?

This process is repeated throughout the walk. Any time the Idiot freaks out at something, or leaps in the air because she’s seen another dog, I reel her back in, sit her down and pick up my finger that she just broke off – again. The walk can take a very long time. But doing it this way every single time is the only way to calm Little Monkey down. If I mess up just once, and miss a step out, I have to repeat it another thousand times before she does it automatically again.

This could all have been avoided if Little Monkey had been socialised as a puppy.

 

Curiouser

Little Monkey is an anxious dog. She was unsocialised as a puppy, so is not good at meeting new dogs unexpectedly, or in confined spaces. She is fine if there is plenty of space, such as a field, which allows her time to study the new dog from a distance, and to keep away from it if she wishes.

However, when we are walking along roads, where she is necessarily on the lead, her escape route is limited. On most walks, if I see another dog coming towards us, I will cross the road to give us at least that space. This is tricky in itself, as Mr Spaghetti Legs is so slow; we need a large gap in traffic to cross safely. Yesterday, a couple of people were approaching, with their little dog running around all over the place, off-lead (by a busy road!) and I only just made it across the road before they came too close for the Idiot’s comfort.

Yet, a little further on, we had just rounded a corner, when I noticed the Idiot looking backwards. She had heard something coming from behind us. When I turned around, I saw a homeless man and his dog coming our way. They were walking rapidly on the other side of the road. The dog was a large Mop, with a dark grey shaggy coat, and in good health. It was a little in front of the man, and off-lead, but walking right by the kerb side and “in the zone”; looking neither to left or right; just trotting at a comfy pace and very happy to be going somewhere with his owner.

I had instantly gone up onto the grass verge, and got Little Monkey to sit down, but it was totally unnecessary. She was completely relaxed. I was amazed!!

Then I realised that she was reading the body language and energy of the street dog, and it was calm and confident.

I had thought that Little Monkey’s lack of socialisation meant that she would be anxious of all dogs, but found out yesterday, that it is only other anxious, or high energy, or over-friendly, or unbalanced dogs that freak her out.

This was a wonderful moment. To realise that the poor Monkey is not as bad as I have always thought. Merely that most of the dogs we meet are also crazy!