Listen. Listen. And listen a little bit more...
Sometimes we get caught up in doing things a certain way and we can lose sight of what our dogs are telling us.
Olly is a lovely little old boy - 11 years old and can be anxious about other dogs on walks. We started-off working with Charlie, his reactive little brother, but we realised that we needed to raise Olly's confidence levels so that both boys are able to be calm when they see other dogs.
Olly is doing really well on walks at home but when he worked with me at the weekend I realised that being in a new place was making him feel really uncertain. So we did all our Thinking-Dog stuff to help him settle, from: safe distance from triggers; to short manageable mooches getting a bit closer; to lots of breaks. But his tail was still down, he kept panting intermittently, and lifting one paw.
And then I got it. He was better when he was moving - he didn't really want to stand and look at anything, even doing a Sniff Trail was too much, because being still (or moving slowly) made him feel uneasy. And rather than doing a slow, aimless mooch (which is what most of the sensitive dogs we work with need so that they can process information), Olly still needs a bit more momentum. He needed to move at the pace his mum usually walks.
So we sped things up a notch. And his tail came up, the panting stopped and he was able to look around himself more comfortably.
We just needed to listen to what he was telling us and change things to support him.
Because listening creates trust and a two-way dialogue between our dogs and us.
He's a proper little starry star and his mum is great with her boys. She manages to walk swiftly yet calmly! 😊🐾