|Looking for trouble...|
Because we practice a lot of avoidance on walks, it can be hard to gauge progress, but yesterday we had what I consider a minor success. I had Ruby out on our lunchtime walk, and there was a gentleman going door to door with a clipboard. "People carrying things" are normally highly suspect to Ruby, and before I had a chance to retreat, he started walking briskly toward us. I prepared myself for barking and spinning, but as he passed right by, Ruby wagged her tail and tried to jump on him. Granted, this is not desirable behavior either, but I'll take it over the woofing whirling dervish! I maintain that much of Ruby's reactivity toward dogs and people is based in frustration. I think she so badly wants to meet everyone that she can't control herself. Bikes, skateboards and motorcycles are another story...those she wants to chase as well as being afraid of the sounds.
On the frustration front, Ruby has made a routine out of ferocious barking at the front window when several neighbor dogs are taken out for their walks. She seems to know their schedule and stands on the back of the sofa with her head poked out the curtains, waiting to fly off the handle. There are no treats or redirection that will interrupt her at this point, my only option being to hold the curtains closed until the dogs have gone by. It takes her anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes to calm down after these episodes and I feel myself getting anxious as well. Since practice makes perfect, I need to come up with a solution for this behavior. I am considering this window film to obscure her view. Thankfully there is only one window that she can see out of - the others are upstairs or blocked by our patio fencing. Has anyone else tried this?
In between...we enjoy each other! We continue to work on the relaxation protocol, have playdates with chug and labradoodle and corgi friends, play tug and fetch and learn new tricks. The positive flip-side of Ruby's reactivity is her energy and intensity which can be channeled into fun games and amazing moments of communication. With a reactive dog, there are always going to be ups and downs, triumphs and failures. The important thing is to keep looking ahead, celebrate the little victories and try not to dwell on the setbacks.