Week 2 Obedience
We just returned from Willow's second obedience class. Willow was a bit more anxious this evening. There are several reasons why. She went to the vet this afternoon for a regular physical (for insurance purposes) plus the temperature has been unusually warm today. On top of these possible reasons, we have a three day holiday here, so my family has been around a great deal. All of excellent reasons why Willow wasnt as relaxed as last week.
I also took treats this week, whereas last week I didnt. I'm considering not taking any next week. She's so food-motivated she hardly pays attention to me. She pays more heed to me without the food around. :S
Also, the unruly boxer, Lola, was there again this week. She's contributing to the class one of the things I want Willow to get out of it: chaos. Lola is a nice dog, she's just disobedience and her owners have some learning to do. Plus, she's a boxer, so she likes to paw. Willow has done exceptionally well with the dogs, and she was not afraid of Lola. Most of the time, she just sat and watched as Lola's owner tried to hold her leash tight enough to keep Lola from bolting. At one point, however, Lola got a bit close--close enough to box Willow's head. Of course, I watch both dogs very closely, and I know that I can yank Willow to safety if I need to. She was not hurt by Lola, but it definitely upset her. She started pacing a bit, and searching for a safe place to hide. During this period, I just let her cope and then when she sat down quietly next to me, I picked her up and held her, talking in calm tones. She quieted down and relaxed, and then I gave her some treats to make her happy.
Do you think this was an appropriate response from me? I do not want to encourage her skittishness, but at the same time I dont want her to get so anxious that she is emotionally scarred. She was shy of Lola right after the boxing incident, but we walked past her at the end of class and she didnt shy away. She didnt want to say hi, but she walked in front of her without pulling or anything.
I'm conscious of the fact that Willow has pre-existing skittishness to sudden movement, and I think that's what had her most upset, not really a fear of Lola, exactly. So I'm trying to desensitize her a bit, but without making new problems!
Cedar (tri), Willow (blen), & Holly (ruby)