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Shandy; Walking him for Sociability

Staying with me in my home Shandy has made a dramatic change from his previous self-inflicted incarceration at the shelter where he would stay in his kennel almost all of the time. Now he charges round the garden with Winston and Penelope as if it never happened. Mind you when they get tired, I found that as I work at my computer not only am I surrounded by files but in addition three worn out and peacefully sleeping dogs.

Shandy needed to know how to play so this I left to Winston and Penelope whilst I tried to work and ignore Shandy as much as possible because it was obvious separation anxiety was setting in and he was becoming my almost permanent shadow. How to solve the problem I will cover next week.

Shandy standing

After three days of almost permanent play, it was time to see how Shandy would take to the real world once again. I collected my training lead and ten meters of rope then took Shandy to my car. He was good jumping in it and he travels well.

When I reached the normal area where I walk Winston, I let him out of the car but attached the long rope to his collar. I had no idea if he would run away from me but the rope would make it easier to catch him and give him a lot more if limited freedom.

Once out of the car he did pull but as we walked, I was soon able to use the full length of the rope and he was able to walk relatively freely. I would walk in one direction and see if Shandy who was going in another direction would then follow me: he did.

Confident he would stay with me I let go of the rope and let him drag it behind him. Whenever I changed direction, he would soon change direction and kept with me.

Once I had him nicely tired out, we went back to the car but instead of going home, I drove to the Arenal in Javea where it was now becoming dark. Dogs need such walks not only in daytime but also at night because of the way they perceive the world. A dog may be fine during the day but at night then you can often see aggression in a dog when you thought there was none.

This time when we got out of the car I put my training lead onto Shandy and set off for the walk along the front.

Initially he pulled so I kept my left arm stiff as if tied to a lamppost yet one that walked. The more he pulled the slower I walked and the more we walked up and down the Arenal the less he pulled. After walking up and down the front eight times, he was now walking with a nice slack lead. People who were watching me even commented on how fast he changed without having to have his neck jerked hard when people use a choke chain collar.

For Shandy, he was seeing so many people, children, dogs, skateboards; bikes even a fire spewing sand dragon as well as spinning light-toys sold by street traders. He certainly did not have problems with children when they patted and fed him nor was there any aggression towards other dogs. He did not try to pull me over to see them but if one came up to him his tail wagged and pleased to meet them. He was just as happy to leave them when I started to walk on.

I sat outside a bar to have a drink along with a packet of crisps and Shandy just lay by the side of the table without any trouble.

Shandy sitting

The next day I took him to Moraria for my lunch. This time we were closer to vehicles and this did worry him, as he was obviously not use to them. I calmed him and gave him titbits so that after a little while he settled. I then walked him round the town so he could see more vehicles but whist he was on the move that made it less stressful for him.

Once he was calmer, I went to a bar for my lunch and fastened him to the wall next to the table. Again, no problems and I could even eat my meal without a drooling face watching my every mouthful. (Winston please note)

The next walk was in Javea old town. Here there are many very narrow streets and people suddenly appearing from doors and passages or from side streets. At first, this did surprise Shandy but after a short while, nothing bothered him so I kept walking him round and round the streets until it was time to sit down at a bar for a drink. You may think I must be an alcoholic where in fact I prefer Fanta Orange but most people visit bars here in Spain and we do need our dogs to remain calm and still as they watch the world go by whilst we indulge in our favourite meal, drink and conversation.

My last walk with Shandy was to walk along the main street of Denia. This is perfect place. So much is going on and the Spanish people love to see dogs. Once they feel secure the dog is not aggressive they will fuss them and feed them.

Here there are cars, scooters, street tables, people, dogs and cats yet contrast this with the Arenal frequented mainly by tourists who are not so interested in someone walking a dog. This is excellent as Shandy then learnt that all these people were showing no interest in him and they meant him no harm.

Conversely, in Denia, most of the people are Spanish and they do take an interest in someone walking a dog. The amount of food offered to Shandy by the Spanish people and their children soon helped him to realise people are nice to him instead of his previous need to hide from them.

Each walk is different so depending on the problems of each dog, which one I use and in which order desensitises a dog in a certain way and accounts for the rapid change to the Shandy of a week before.

Now that is progress and that is Sociability training.


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