On the Road, For Real

Today, we had our first adult dog “on the road” excursion.

I worked Barnum in the parking lot of my doctor’s office before my appointment. Since we normally work indoors, in a quiet, rural setting, it was quite a departure to work on pavement, surrounded by speeding cars, police cars and firetrucks roaring past with sirens and lights, people of all varieties, an electric door opening and shutting, etc.

Barnum was very excited to be going for a ride, and in the beginning, I had to work on getting him to stop whining with excitement. I think once it became clear we were not going to the P-O-N-D (because we drove for 40 minutes instead of three), that helped some. When we got to the highway (about 25 minutes into the drive), he started to chill.

He was very good about not unloading until the chair and I were out, and sitting before he jumped out. There was a moment of relative calm until, as we headed toward the sidewalk from the van, he bolted to get to the grass. Why the grass, flowers, and bushes were so exciting, when he sees flora all the time at home, I do not know. He didn’t even have to pee.

The unfortunate result, however, was that his sudden charge directly ahead catapulted me right out of my chair, and if I hadn’t managed to 1. use my legs to keep from face-planting into the pavement, and 2. yelled in shock and pain, “Ow!” It would have been a bad scene.

So, I accidentally gave a very harsh verbal and leash correction, because of my yelling and pulling back with my arms and legs to keep from smashing my face into the asphalt. Barnum looked around at me with total surprise and worry, like, “What was that for?”

He did calm down considerably after that. He was still not loose-leash walking (LLW), and he wouldn’t take treats, so I just kept changing direction to get him noticing me and the leash, and eventually he remembered, and he made eye contact, and then I rapid-fired about ten pieces of cheese into his mouth, verbally marking for standing next to  me. Then he was in the game!

We did pretty well after that. He was able to give me eye contact some, and he was surprisingly good about keeping a LL. I got many sits from him. I’d say he was at about 70-80% reliable with the sit cue (combined hand and verbal, usually). He even did some downs, touches, and zen, stand, and eye contact, though none of those are reliable.

He was quite distracted  a lot of the time, but it would have been a miracle if he wasn’t.

He was totally not ready at all to go inside the clinic, even just through the doors, in and out of the waiting room. This turned out to be fine, because when I got home, I got a message the clinic left before we came that I could not bring him in if he wasn’t fully trained. Oh well, I have a dentist to see eventually who is very dog-friendly.

He spent my appointment in the air-conditioned van, and afterward he was so happy to see me! “Mom! What can I do for you? Let me show you how fabulously I can pay attention!”

We did another ten minutes of LLW in the parking lot, with lots of eye contact, lots of accepting treats, some sits, downs, a few honest-to-goodness “leave its” of interesting things to sniff in the environment, hand-targeting, and more taking in the scenery.

He certainly is very confident! I don’t think anything really bothered him. He was curious and watchful about all the unusual sights, sounds, and smells, but he didn’t seem anxious at all. I’m chocking this up partly to his great personality and temperament, and partly to all the early socialization we did when he was teeny.

We got home at 5:00, and he laid down on the living room dog bed while I bathed and changed. Then, when I got into bed after detoxifying myself, he crawled into his crate, and he hasn’t moved more than a couple feet since then! This is one tired pup!

He matches his very tired (but still adrenalized) human (who will pay for this tomorrow, big-time).

My doctor said, “I think the dog has been good for you in a lot of ways, but also maybe taken a lot out of you, hasn’t he?”

Yeah, doc, that’s about right!

-Sharon, the muse of Gadget (I was always well-behaved there), and Barnum, SDiT and world-traveler (a bit)

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