Lupin is making excellent progress in many areas. Two days ago, he ate his first supper in the kitchen with Glimmer and Violet… and he did a phenomenal job of staying calm even when Glimmer snuck behind me to get a kibble he had dropped on the floor. This was a huge achievement for him: before he came to me, his possessiveness over food was so intense and unpredictable that the family had to separate him from their other animals during meal times. His human mom told me that he would be fine one minute, and then suddenly, from out of nowhere, he would attack.
While Lupin is making tremendous strides all across the board, there is one area in which he is not doing well at all: The walk. For Lupin, the walk is torture. He’s so skittish that he jumps at his own shadow, his anxiety level gets so high that he whines and tries to pull his way back to the house, and his fear… He is so terrified of everything that his tail drops between his legs, he lowers his body closer to the ground, and he tries to bolt. He has no confidence on the walk at all, and no trust in me to keep him safe. He starts out relatively calm, but not even half-way down the block, his fear and anxiety overwhelm him and what should be enjoyable for him becomes a nightmare.
I have been observing Lupin’s behavior very closely, trying to figure out what’s triggering him. Lupin’s owner told me they don’t usually have any trouble with him when they take him on nature hikes. I spoke with a colleague about it, and they suggested that maybe it’s the city sounds that are triggering his anxiety. I realized immediately that this is exactly what’s happening. So, as we near the end of Week 3, I’m doing some noise conditioning work with him in the hope of easing his anxiety and fear enough that he can start making more positive associations. The walk is a very important bonding and trust exercise for both the dog and the owner; it should never be a negative, unpleasant experience.
Have a great day, everyone, and remember: Stay calm and lead on.