I am finding that my routine is to pack Haddie in kennel to the back of our car and let her come with us during the school drop off of my son. From there we find our adventures. Today I chose to walk on the brand new sidewalk that boarders the busy street in our town. It is the road that our neighborhood runs into, the road that parallels the elementary school my son attends, the road that crosses over a huge trail system that weaves its way throughout our town and the next one over.
This road used to be dangerous. With no shoulders, no turn lanes, it was a mecca for creating traffic jams and scary scenes when a walker, jogger, or biker wanted to commute through. Thankfully the city planned a great upgrade that took the entire school year last year to complete.
Just in time for Haddie.
There is a large section of road that has full sidewalks on both sides with great landscaping, a Round About in the middle, nice benches along the way, and easy access to the park's trail system and Community Center.
We parked the car at the Community Center and hit the sidewalk. The cars whizzed by and we both just kept walking. It was a few blocks long before we landed on the brand new benches that are in a little alcove in the sidewalk - enough distance from the road that I felt secure for my own safety; and Haddie's too.
Haddie is learning the Down command. We are in the learning phase at home, but it just worked into the scene at the benches to get her to do it there. With traffic behind her, she listened to me instead, and followed my lure quickly into a Down. And then she didn't move. She would watch the traffic, or close her eyes, or spot a pine cone sprout blowing (because she was actually moving it when she breathed - that was funny). We stayed for awhile letting her listen to the various cars, trucks, and buses. It didn't phase her.
We moved to the trail system via the long cemented pathway down. We ventured through some trail landscape until we were faced with a choice to either go through the Tunnel that went under the road we were just on, or to turn and head the other direction down the trail - deeper into a wooded scene.
Haddie has been so mellow and nothing has phased her yet. So I thought I'd give it a try with the high value treats ready for use. We entered. Nothing. I started to calmly talk to her. Nothing. We got deeper into the tunnel and she started to hear my echo. Bingo.
She was half walking, half stopping, but looking all around chasing the echo of my voice with her ears. It was cute, but we needed to keep focused and keep moving. She did - she made it to the end with no worries. When we turned around to go back where we started, she no longer paid attention to the echo and just walked.
However, very shortly after exiting the tunnel, two joggers were coming towards us. Haddie was a little concerned and quickly gave out two barks that I didn't know she had in her. The two joggers were not worried, smiled, and kept going. Although she did not carry on and on; I could sense that the barks were not playful, but more on the defensive.
We stuck around and waited for more joggers. Eventually two more came by, but this time with a dog. Knowing what I was up for, I put her in a Sit in front of me and kept her attention focused on me by calling her name, and rewarding her with high value treats. It did the trick. The two joggers passed, the dog passed with them, and all was fine.
We'll need to work on this one, however. It was not "easy", but she passed with a thumbs up compared to the minutes prior.