We haven’t taken Liezel for many walks in her life. Being a fearful dog, most times the walks weren’t enjoyable for her, but more fear / anxiety inducing. She used to get stressed out (eyes bulging, panting, etc.) as soon as the collar and leash went on her. Once we stepped out the door she started posturing and became hyper-vigilant. The entire walk she would constantly look all around and react to anything she perceived as scary (any person or dog). It was awful, and it got to the point that we stopped walking her.
If you’ve read my other posts on Liezel you know that we have been making great progress over the last 6 months or so. Since we’ve been working with our current trainer (1 year now) we have been trying to take her out more for exposure.
It was very exciting when after months of practice with the new trainer’s techniques we watched Liezel begin to calm down on walks. Her body loosened up and she actually started sniffing the ground instead of frantically searching all around. She seemed to be enjoying it.
There are still some walks that don’t go well. She can still be reactive, it’s just that the frequency and intensity of the reactions are less and less. And the recovery time is minutes instead of hours or days.
Nowadays, when we say the word “walk” her little head tilts to the side much the same as if we say other things she likes, like outside or treat. She might really be enjoying them.
Side note: It’s helpful for me to continue writing posts like this because I can sometimes get discouraged when an outing with Liezel doesn’t go well. This post started out taking a completely different course, but as I really thought through what I was saying – maybe even complaining about- I realized there are a lot (a lot!) more good days than bad. So much of the progress depends on me. My thinking positively, being confident, and taking control is imperative to our success.