04 Apr Smaagodt Visit
Yesterday I went to visit Smaagodt, the chocolate lab we use to walk – who had a bite incident with his new walker and caused another dog to need 18 staples. I took my friend Steph along and her dog KC – who use to play with Smaag. I wanted to see if he was any different now that he has a bite history. This was the last part of my information for to determine if what happened was an isolated incident or if this dog has issues. I was so excited to see him. Reintroducing Tyson to Smaagodt took a little bit of work on Tyson’s part. At first Tyson was so confused – who is this giant and wild chocolate jumping on his mom??? Tyson did his introductory growl, “I’m not sure about you yet so watch out” – Smaagodt retreated. While I wish Tyson would have remembered him right away, it did allow me to see one important skill that Smaagodt has maintained- his ability to back away from confrontation. He’s the same goofy chocolate lab I use to know. He has no interest in fighting. He’s a peaceful dude.
At Sherwood, Smaagodt barked at KC enticing her to play but was easily distractible with a stick. He comes on strong when he greets other dogs, but he’s friendly. He highly social and has a lot of tolerance for other dog’s bad behavior. He’s still super ball motivated, loves swimming and has a great recall. Taking him out was literally ‘a walk in the park’. Steph and I both agree – it’s really hard to imagine this dog injuring another dog. It would take a lot for this dog to bite.
So what now? The only question mark is the car – where the incident happened. Maybe he’s not safe in a tight spot? Well it shouldn’t prevent him from being on a group walk provided his new walker can keep him in the front, or crate him in the car. That’s what I would do. I gave my opinion to the owners and will wait and see what they decide. I referred them to their last walker so I’m sure they don’t want my referral for a new one 🙁 I’m happy to not have that responsibility. In fact I’m going to think twice before I refer anyone. The truth is even if I think someone is good, unless I really really see them in action, I shouldn’t be referring them. I learned my lesson.
Now back to the little guy that is NOT such a peaceful dude, the dog that actually needs monitoring, a dog that actually doesn’t have that much tolerance, a dog that actually could injure another dog if provoked…..can you see where this is going? There were lots of puppies at Sherwood and I had to keep my eyes on Tyson. At one point I even asked a couple to hold their puppy as I walked by. This is something I NEED to start doing. I always feel like I can handle anything with Tyson – even a puppy charging at us -but what’s the point? It’s better for Tyson to know that all puppies DON’T charge at us. I need to make my life easier and I’m not sure why I resisted this strategy for so long. While I would tell my clients to protect their dog at all costs, I was putting my own dog at risk by not asking people to hold their puppy while we passed them. These people appreciated knowing that Tyson doesn’t like puppies. I told my friend Steph to remind me to do this if she’s sees me freezing. Sometimes even a schooled trainer needs someone to observe them and give them direction.