Yesterday was another failure out in the field.
We went to the nice trail we found a few weeks ago. The dogs have been cooped up all week. It's been snowing and highs have been in the low teens, lows in the negatives, wind chills of -15. We've been colder than Anchorage!
So we took Robin on the long-line and went for a short walk. She saw kids and didn't freak out; saw other dogs and, while she definitely had hackles up and was a little reactive, she didn't try to follow the dog or bark or growl.
And then, right at the end of the walk, she saw more people. We stopped on the side of the trail. She could sit, and do a few little tricks until they got right next to us. I had a hold of her, but the lead was wet and slipped out of my hand, and she went running up to these people and started jumping on them. And it was ok, until the man tried to pet her. She started barking furiously, and backing up. Luckily, the guy wasn't scared or offended.
Walking back to the car, I thought about what to do in future.
Number one, when she's on a long line, I think I'll keep a traffic loop on her harness, so I have something slip over my wrist in close contact. We were very lucky that didn't turn into something more dangerous.
Number two, I should have immediately told the other hikers to ignore her, but it all happened so fast.
Number three, I should be taking advantage of all the nice hikers on this trail who aren't scared of her. The man she barked at yesterday, just stopped in his tracks and crouched down. My husband comes with me on these walks, and so one of us could have held her and given teats to these people, instruct them to ignore her and let her get treats from strangers. It's how she's come to love the people at the pet store, the vet and vet techs, friends who come over. I can go ahead on these walks and ask people (adults only, right now) to toss treats to her when they walk by, or let her approach and take treats if the people seem more keen to really follow directions. She only freaks out when they stare at her or lean over her to pet.
It sounds pretty geeky, but I heard one great suggestion for this. Plant yourself somewhere on the side of the path (this walking trail has benches along route set back from the pavement). Set up a little TV tray 20 feet down the path with a bowl of treats and a sign that says, "My dog is scared of strangers; please toss her a treat when you walk by, but also please ignore her," or something like that.
Might be worth doing as the weather picks up and people are out walking.
We got home, and Robin's been hiding in her crate occasionally; we're keeping an eye on a couple of sores between her toes, so the day sort of ended on a rough note, anyway.
River, on the other hand, took a trip to the park, and we were the only people/dogs there. She got 40 acres, all to herself to run herself silly.
"In these bodies, we will live; in these bodies we will die.
Where you invest your love, you invest your life." --Marcus Mumford