We’re going to need more gear.
One reason we were excited to adopt a cattle dog? Adventuring of course! Cattle dogs make great hiking partners. So we made sure to get Lucy out in nature when she was a youngster.
Funnily enough, the first time we saw Lucy being reactive was on a trail in the Bronx. She could walk down a busy NYC street no problem, but was surprised to find other people and dogs in the forest.
We continued taking her out regularly and always on a leash. And we tested actions for when we encountered people on the trail. If she is picked up she doesn’t react (lol, she’s 45 lbs). And if we can get off the trail to give her distance from the trigger she does ok observing.
Lately I’ve been following a trainer named Sarah Stremming who is famous for recommending what she calls ‘decompression walks’. A decompression walk is an off leash walk in nature where a dog can run, sniff, and play. Getting exercise and exploring on their own terms can be beneficial to stressed out dogs.
So we’ve been trying it out! Sometimes we leave a long leash clipped to Lucy’s harness. But she mainly stays close to us. Maybe too close! We hope each trip builds up her courage more and more to let loose. It’s changed how I walk her around Brooklyn too. I let her sniff as much as she wants and to lead the way when she can.
The other great thing about adventuring with your dog is all the gear! Lucy has her own backpack for longer trips. And she has a GPS collar in case she gets lost.
Our future goals include being able to pass by people and dogs on the trail without freaking out. I want to try having Lucy wear her muzzle, so that if we do run into someone they won’t be as scared of the barking dog going past them.