A few recent walks with Liezel are deserving of a blog post.
Twice last week we went on longer than usual walks. Once just she and I went and on the second walk my husband joined us. We encountered many people along the way including a construction crew (semi-truck, front-end loader, several men, and a lot of noise), a man behind us pulling a suitcase on wheels, a man edging his front lawn, barking dogs, and children on recess at school to name a few. Liezel was a real champion for all of these encounters. On several occasions her hackles rose but there was no barking and lunging and no huffing or growling.
We took a walk last night after dark and she was on a little more high-alert (not uncommon in the dark). As we were nearing home a walker on the other side of the street caught her attention and she was agitated by him/her. Liezel gave a few huffs, started posturing, and stared in the direction of that person. A few corrections and heel commands kept her from going over threshold and once the person was far enough ahead of us I told Liezel “all done” which released her from heel. She continued on without issue.
This afternoon I took her for a walk that was cut very short. While I was cleaning up after her, a neighbor came out with his dog on a leash and they began walking the same way we would have gone. They were far enough ahead of us (2-3 houses) that I figured we could continue on, but Liezel was not having it (pulling, huffing, hackles up, etc). She was more concerned with that other dog that I knew the rest of the walk would be a struggle so we turned down a side street and came home.
But that’s not the good part! At the start of our walk today we approached a house with Halloween decorations up. One of the ghosts bothered Liezel so I decided to let her go up to it and see that it was harmless. Well the homeowner came rushing out to see what we were up to and with Liezel already being startled by the ghost I was sure she was going to start barking and lunging at the guy. To my great surprise she stayed at my side without reacting. I carried on a brief conversation with him while making my way back to the sidewalk and Liezel walked beside me. She was uncomfortable but she handled the situation beautifully.
I think back a year ago, we weren’t taking Liezel for walks! We were barely taking her to classes and daycare. We have come a long, long way. I know that her fear aggression will be something that I will always have to manage, but being able to take her for walks is very rewarding.