I’ve talked mostly about how amazing Stormlight is so far (hopefully), but we’ve been having this one problem that is getting worse lately. I see the same reaction in several dogs I walk and can see some ways in which it’s a very normal-seeming reaction, but it is still one that we have to figure out if we want to succeed and end up a functioning service dog team.
The current foe: SKATEBOARDS.
Honestly, I don’t know if she’s scared of them, upset by them, excited by them…hell, maybe she just wants her own super speedy human. What I do know is that she is reactive around skateboards, and it’s not a good thing, and it is getting much worse now that we see them almost every day and often more than one at a time or within a few minutes, as it has gotten warm. Sometimes I can distract her and keep her attention when there’s a single skateboard, even two if I’m really lucky, but more? — that’s too much. She doesn’t have time to settle before being riled up again, and I suspect that my dread of the inevitable shattering of our very put together image (and of my poor eardrums) is poorly hidden and just gets her more antsy.
Storm has amazing focus. It’s one of the many things I admire about her and one of the things that I think makes her a great potential service dog. It also makes it extremely hard to settle her down when she is on her hind legs doing her weird husky-like barking fit at a skateboard; even when I get her to focus and sit, she is clearly placating me and will often then re-start the chattering as she stares intently, sometimes ducking her head around me and twisting oddly.
Problem: I have noise sensitive chronic pain. This means that I cannot deal with the crazy barking thing well at all and have to retreat back inside ASAP. It also means it’s not plausible for me to handle desensitizing her to skateboards, which would involve an awful lot of dealing with the barking and push me past my physical threshhold for noise in unpleasant ways.
Solution: SuperDad! This is to say that my father, who is the most amazing dad a person could have and is also one of my best friends, suggested that he do the taking-Storm-to-bark-at-skateboards thing in which we encourage the good behavior of not barking and hopefully result in a dog who doesn’t get bothered by skateboards at some point.
First session was today, and she of course barked a lot but also was open to being redirected and I am told there was a noticeable difference by the end. Session 2 of Stormlight vs Skateparks happens tomorrow — wish her luck!