I took Luke down to Dana point harbor yesterday for his walk; I get tired of the same ole and wanted some new scenery. I have to think about going there before deciding; Luke gets into his "squirrel zone" when we are there and nearly rips my arm from my body. Being reactive means that when he gets excited it is nearly impossible to get him back to a normal mode. So I grabbed his 2" wide collar, his easy walk harness and his bungee leash and off we went.
Typically Luke cannot wait to see other dogs; he is very social but when we are at the harbor he sees nothing but squirrels. Many dogs pass by us but he offers no acknowledgement of them. This intense zone is an odd one because he doesn't want to kill the squirrels; he's not the type. Nor is Tilley but something comes from deep inside that they cannot control; unfortunately Luke is more physical in his stalking zone constantly pulling.
Every once in a while I make him sit and try to get a fraction of attention. The first sign that he is listening is a rather pissed off fleeting glance out the side of his eye; but I want more. With a gentle one finger touch he comes back to me long enough for a quick face rub and then he is gone again. This "zone" is unstoppable; you cannot get rid of it but you can control it. Even in this highly aroused state I have control; which actually amazes even me. With a firm "leave it" Luke's body adjusts; it is a very small body movement and if you weren't watching you'd miss it.
Along our walk we saw lots of other dogs; a pair of beautiful English setters which you just don't see around. There were many mixed breeds both large and small; a bassett hound, several aussies and one of the smallest chihuahuas I've seen in a longtime. It was a 10 week old with one blue eye; I shuddered to think what one playful paw of Luke's would do to this little thing, although Luke never even saw it. This dog was actually smaller than the squirrels; which got me to thinking about the drastic sizes that we humans have created in the dog species. More on that tomorrow.
But as far as the squirrel walk; I think this type of mental exercise is good for dogs; Mother nature vs Mom.