JANICE!! This warmed my heart. I am so proud of him and can't thank you enough for teaching him how to be sociable again. I see these changes on my walks with him. I no longer muzzle him!.
I had one incident when he threw out a growl at a girl walking by but I quickly corrected that behaviour and he has not so much as barked at a person or growled at a dog since.I take him to the tennis courts to chase ball as I still don't feel fully ready to let him off leash in the park to play ball.
I loved your blog and attribute such a fast change to you and Frida teaching him in your sweet manner. He is learning and I know he wants to be such a good boy - I see it when he knows he is doing something wrong and throws me a side glance from those doe eyes of his.
I want to keep this momentum going and was wondering if you would be able to come again next week Tuesday and Thursday??Thanks again Janice for the updates! I love that he was swimming in February! Unbelievable.Kyla
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I knew he was going to be a friend and hiking companion the moment I met him. S, is a mastiff/Shepherd mix with doe eyes and a compact physique. He barked when I first entered the apartment - my Frida does the same. I knelt down (I am not fond of hovering over, even if I am only five feet tall) and did a combination of chatting, treat offering, and simply appreciating. This is a fine dog, I thought. "Love at first sight" is what his human emailed his previous owner.
The story is S. was attacked by two dominant dogs and emerged scarred physically and even more, psychologically. When he feels cornered these days, he takes no chances. Our first walk (our getting-acquainted hike) took place on a Sunday morning at Humber Bay East. Also on the hike were my Frida and the finest, most gentle yet spirited Shepherd who is boarding with us.
I had a feeling S. and our Shepherd would get along famously. They ran and covered so much ground - I just stood and watched and laughed. Three dogs on the trail who had spent time in our back yard and then inside our home becoming acquainted (over forty minutes) before setting out for a car ride to our selected trail. By the time we hit the trail, they were fast friends sharing in the joy of free running and exploration.
Needless to say, S. doesn't wear a muzzle anymore.
Note: this is not true of all dogs who have become aggressive, but the case of one dog who, after being attacked in a dog park, was able to find peace and freedom on the trail.
I love trail walking with my canine companions. And I wish all my dogs were trail-ready. Before I take a new friend on a trail, we go to High Park. Some dogs will explore and check back in. Others share their discoveries alongside. Occasionally, a new friend will get too carried away with roaming.
And so I ask all humans of the dogs who hike with me whether their dogs are trail-ready. I always hope they are; but dogs can get lost on a trail. And human voices cannot carry far enough or may not be heeded. I walk such a dog, a bright, energetic fox terrier who finds a scent and follows it. In our trail walks, she will have to be on lead, followed by a romp with other dogs in an enclosed off-leash area. Her human is working hard to improve her dog's recall. And when the time comes, they will both accompany me on a test trail walk.
So it's vital to inform your walker/ hiking guide of your dog's habits and tendencies. Trail walking may commence immediately or may become one of your primary goals for your dog.
My Frida has been hiking with me since she was a puppy. She acts as canine guide and companion and was born to this work. When the hike works, everything is in sync, dogs, human, earth, sky, all.I am wishing this for you and your dog.
Janice is the founder of and primary caregiver at Happy Trail Dogs Service. She is also the founder of an arts-related non-profit and worked in the fitness industry for over two decades. She is an artist, editor, writer, and mother of two wonderful women and a glorious lab named Frida.