I had my poodles at Salt Creek yesterday; I had taken at least five minutes to consider bringing all three dogs or just the poodles. Taking them to Salt Creek is a whole lot different than a regular walk; we have to deal with squirrels. And for all three of my dogs squirrels are like hanging a carrot out infront of a rabbit, or a piece of chocolate cheesecake infront of me. They are tempted beyond the breaking point.
So knowing full well that I would be dealing with pulling issues with both Jessie and Luke I opted for just the poodles. Plus, adding a 15lb dog to the mix results in leg tangling as she weaves in and out of the poodles. So I filled a bone with Peanut butter and cheerios for the one who was left behind. Jessie is more than happy to be left at home when she can have food. I place the food well inside the bone so she has her work cut out for her.
The whining started well before we reached the 1 mile to the beach mark. Luke started his pacing back and forth, left to right, left to right and back again. For a reactive dog, excitement is the enemy at least where I'm considered. Excitement propels a reactive dog into uncontrolable behavior; never good.
So we get to the parking lot and the whining continues; I won't let him out of the car until he quiets at least a little. It is important that he get a grip every so often otherwise he will spin into oblivion. But once out on the path to the beach he slips quickly into squirrel mode; not good. Looking into his eyes; my Luke is gone and the bad Luke has taken over. I'm not fond of Bad Luke; but we have learned to coexist.
The path down to the beach is on a downward slope; not the type of terrain you want to be dragged down by a 50 lb out of control dog. So we stop often, sit, get some fleeting eye contact and continue. Each time I have taken Luke to this beach he is markedly getting worse. His tip off point is hitting him earlier and earlier; so I'm thinking next trip will be Luke alone and alot of work.
Both poodles are in hunt mode; zoned out to be exact. When Tilley is in hunt mode she is a little harder to get through to but she goes into an over calm state; her posture is slunk down, her head turning with the utmost of control in slow motion. Her whole demeanor whispers "quiet, I'm stalking." So I have one in slow motion and the other in full out mode. I can pretty much ignore Tilley; a few TILLEY's get her back into my zone. Tilley also deals with the shadow issue at the beach which is a big one.
Luke on the other hand is being taunted by the squirrels, each time I get a bit of control there seems to be another squirrel out ahead of us sitting up on a rock shrieking at him, daring him to go for it. And unfortunately Luke is one of those guys; you know the type who can't turn down a dare. So off he goes with me attached; the whole walk is a "be prepared" type walk for me.
After our lovely, relaxing walk along the beach (NOT), I opt to sit and chill with the poos on the grass hill. Bad Luke still has a tight grasp on my boy; not willing to let him go quite yet. Both Tilley and Luke are glued to the squirrely beasts running around infront of them. Tilley does a down, she is so in control even when the thing she wants to do more than anything in the world is to chase the squirrel.
The inner good Luke is listening to me; the bad Luke is not. So I only have 1/2 of my dog to work with and when I ask him to down he does but never takes his eyes off his target. With the sun heating things up I decide it's time to go; I'm over this whole squirrel thing now anyway. So as we head back up the hill which is where the exercise really kicks in my boy starts to slowly come back. You can literally see it happening, his body starts to relax, he starts looking around at his environment and looks back to see that I'm there. Then the Good Luke is back in his entirety as he glances back, gives me a wink and a wag and were good to go.