One of the puzzles of a lot of traditional approaches to dog training is their implied assumption that dogs are mechanistic. They have little to no recognition of individual personalities and seem to think that dogs are going to respond the same way every day. But think about it, is your behavior that consistent? Don’t you ever get grumpy when you’re tired or sick?
I’ve wondered if Spencer has been fighting a cold recently. His eyes have been really runny and he’s been sleeping even more than usual during winter. Still he seemed excited at the prospect of a walk at midday, and since the weather and my schedule won’t allow a lot of major walks this week, it seemed like a good idea to take advantage of today’s nice, mild weather.
The first sign that something was up was when he hesitated to climb into the car. But he didn’t hesitate that long, so I didn’t think much about it. Then he whined when we got near the park. I thought this was strange, but didn’t know what to make of it.
Looking back, I think he was saying he didn’t want to go on a big walk. He was awful. He was more reactive than I’ve seen him in months, and his safety zone, which had shrunk considerably was suddenly huge. And he was pulling terribly on the leash.
We made it all the way to the canal, so he could have a drink. Then I turned him around and headed back to the car because I was not having any fun, and I don’t think he was either. He was calmer on the return, partly because we saw fewer people.
Despite an abbreviated walk, he has curled up and gone back to sleep. While he always snores, it does sound like his nose might be a bit stuffed. So I guess I’ll just let the sleeping dog lie.