I met with a friend yesterday for a second session of walking Roko with a second person. We met at the high school near my home. Roko got several opportunities to meet new people, practice calmer greetings, investigate the area around him, and even do some confidence-building exercises with the concrete benches and concrete parking pylons.
Although he accepted the presence of my friend fairly easily, he was all over the place during the walk. It was like we were right back at the start; he was pulling and weaving a lot and not following direction very well at all. But, in his defense, a strong wind had come up and it was blowing everything all over the place, and I wasn’t at the top of my game, either. More than once, I felt myself getting frustrated and I had to stop and calm myself, but Roko knew I wasn’t on point, and he showed me that through his behavior. It was my fault, not his.
At one point, my friend asked me to give her the leash. She wanted to run Roko for a minute or two to see if that would help him focus a bit better. I gave her the leash… and as soon as she started moving really quickly with him, Roko immediately started pulling hard on the lead and jumping at her. He tried to get into sync with her, but it just wasn’t happening.
I give Roko as much enrichment as I can. Different types of nose games, the snuffle mat, practicing basics, challenging his patience through easy find-it games, games to help him build confidence… These things do help him – in the short term. But Roko is a young pup with a ton of energy that isn’t being released, and along with his lack of boundaries [which I’m also working to establish for him], this extra pent-up energy is contributing to the ongoing unwanted behaviors we’re trying to change and resolve.
So, the time has come to increase the challenges for Roko. From obstacle courses indoors and outdoors [where he can practice over, under, around, and through], to confidence-building exercises at the senior high school near my home, Roko will be getting more stimulation, which will challenge his ability to focus and stay focused, which in turn will drain out more of his mental and physical energy so he can become calmer and more relaxed, and stay that way for longer periods of time.
Have a great day, everyone, and remember to stay calm and lead on.