"Give me a break, please!"
These are the words that I'm starting to think Oscar is saying in his head lately. The past 3 days (Saturday, Sunday and now today) Oscar has had some bark-barks at people and/or dogs on our walks. Not all people. Not all dogs. But enough where I know the release of cortisol has definitely increased in his system making him more on-edge. Half of these occurrences have happened when we have gotten snuck up on from behind. I try not to be hypervigilant of the environment to the point that I'm scanning around looking for scary stuff, but it bit us in the ass a few times in the past couple of days. Time to take a couple steps back in training...again.
Not that I needed another reason to dislike walking the dogs in the late fall through winter, but there is no doubt in my mind that Oscar is more nervous when we are walking in the dark. I do what I can to try and help him (walk him with Fanny, get all jolly and sing songs, be quiet and calm) and nothing seems to really help. I've tried putting his Thundershirt on and walking him, I've tried putting a back pack on him...
He's obsessed with Frisbee and ball in our backyard and back there is a different dog. He is happy, playful, all loosey goosey. So, I've tried to take his ball and Frisbee with us on our walks. That sometimes works, but sometimes it doesn't. He doesn't completely shutdown or anything. And it's not like I can't walk him, but lately I've noticed a disconnect between him and I (and I'm sure with my husband when he walks him, although he doesn't seem to notice and/or care). You would think that I could figure this out. You would think I could get him comfortable. Maybe it's his genetic make-up (again) working against me. I'm a dedicated owner and, once again, I find myself distant from my dog. It's saddening and frustrating. The amount of time, energy, money and effort I put in to help Oscar has become lopsided in the past week.
I know we'll work through this as we have in the past, but it's time to give me a break, PLEASE!