To be as neurotic as he is, Silas bounces back from fear very, very well. I’m thankful for this every day.
The one of us who doesn’t bounce back well is me. I worry too much about other people judging my crazy dog, and I worry too much about exposing him to situations that have ended badly in the past.
I’ve mentioned before that one of the hardest things about having a fearful dog is that you have to know when it’s okay to push them to do something new. Standing still is moving backwards, as the saying goes. Or, in a more zen way, you need to walk forward, even if it is very slowly. The more you let your fearful dog sit in his comfortable rut, the deeper the rut gets and the harder it is to climb out of.
In a way I’m lucky that we live in such an urban area. It gives Silas a lot of opportunity to prove what he’s made of. Even at the quietest park, at the weirdest time of the day, there’s a 75% chance that we’ll meet at least a person, if not a person with a dog.
I’d been dragging my feet about taking Silas out running with me again, after he had a pretty reactive moment with another dog on the trail a week ago. (I think this was a classic case of “Stop looking at me like that!” The other dog didn’t seem to be doing anything bad to me, but Silas never goes that crazy.) Nothing happened, but it set me on edge.
Today I gave in and took him with me. We met not one but three huge dogs, who were off leash when we first saw them. The owners were perfect and leashed them back up instantly, but I still had to get Silas through the pack. I went to my “calm place,”shortened up his leash, and walked on; and he was perfect. Of course.