This past Sunday was a particularly nice, warm, sunny day. Unfortunately that meant the melting snow and slush turned everything promptly into mud. That of course translates into crap for footing. However, I managed to convince myself to put my big girl panties on and still go for a ride around the neighborhood walking on the gravel roads (and the 5% of the road that is asphalt).
Up until this point I have only ridden Gentry down to the mailbox (1/4 mile) and back solo. I have only ridden him to the arena (1/2 mile) once and that was with EB on Hugo. The whole loop is 1.5 - 2 miles long. I figured that I need to start setting out more and more on my own. Not only to continue building my confidence and trust in Gentry, but also I think it is good for him to get away from Hugo once in a while and realize that Hugo will be there when we get back.
Most of our ride, I'd say 90%, was very enjoyable, on the buckle and relaxing. We made it around 75% of the neighborhood loop riding on the buckle with floppy ears. Then we got to the asphalt section of the road, which still had a bit of ice on it, and also happens to be occupied by some run down homes (not actually part of our subdivision) that have rather unfriendly off leash dogs.
It didn't occur to me that we would have to pass this house and those dogs when I decided to go on the ride. I briefly considered just turning around and riding the long way home, but then once again decided to suck it up. Mostly I was concerned that those dogs would come after my dog, not so much Gentry and I. Luckily their owner pulled up in a truck just as we came to the house, so the dogs were pre-occupied while we passed.
Right after that house is the park and the arena. I quickly got Gentry into the park/arena and then that is when he turned into a royal pain. He got tense, head up, and started calling like a fool. I decided to walk circles in the arena until he calmed down. That never really happened, and he just seemed to be getting more and more worked up, on bad footing. Then he even tried a little mini-rear pop. I quickly smacked him with my hand between the ears and he got the picture that it wasn't okay to attempt to rear. At that point I felt like I was loosing ground with him and just wanted to go forward, so we headed out of the arena, through the park, and down a trail that popped us back out on gravel road.
The moment we were back on the road he was completely chill again and great for the rest of the ride home. In retrospect, I think perhaps he was initially worked up from me being tense about the sketchy house and the dodgy dogs. Despite the dogs, I will have to make sure that I stay calm and cool next time we pass that house and see if it makes a difference. I might just bring a spray bottle with vinegar in it too, just to have some personal protection if I need it.
Happy trails and swooshing tails!