Coalsnaughton was our first race. I was quite nervous as Indie can be reactive with certain dogs and we have had to put a muzzle on her and go back to the very basics of training again.
We arrived early and I went to get our race number. There was a few folk around with their dogs so I decided to get Indie out and walk around with her. I was immediately much calmer as I soon realised we were around real doggie people, who are not scared to let their dogs be dogs. Indie was much calmer too because of this and was much more interested in the sheep poo than other dogs!
I popped her back in the car after 10/15 minutes and went for a walk around and chatted to lots of people and their dogs. Everyone was so encouraging and kind, wishing us good luck with our race. What was really surprising was that I was not the only person with a reactive dog. In fact it’s pretty common! I brought Indie out of the car again for another wander. She was calm. I was calm. Confidence up!
After another 10/15 minutes I put her back in the car and went to watch the start of the 5k race. The race start is staggered and is was really interesting watching everyone line up to start. the dogs were excited, some were jumping around, some barking, some calm but when it was their turn they knew what to do. People gave each other space, didn’t freak out if their dogs were told off by other dogs and wished each other good luck. There was loads of friendly banter too!
I then went to the finish line to watch them. There was some really fast times, lots of huge smiles and lots of tongues hanging out of (mostly dogs) mouths!
Our turn. Yikes. Nerves taking over. Warm-up. Lots of dogs in close proximaty. Is this wise? Can Indie cope with this? Oh…she’s eating sheep poo again and paying no attention to the dogs! We’re next. Go!
Straight away Indie is super focused on running. First corner and we need to pass someone. She sees us coming and moves over and I say to Indie “on you go” in my super stern scary voice and she runs straight past the other dog. Confidence up again! More runners to pass. ‘On your right!’ I shout and then ‘on you go’ to Indie and she just keeps running, super focused and listening to every word I say.
We ran that race together (although she did pull me around!) but it had been a long time since we had connected like that and it was AWESOME! Indie was AWESOME!
The race was so well organised and the people that come are just lovely.
Having a reactive dog is really hard work. You think about every little detail that could go wrong and will go out of your way to avoid certain situations. Your walks can be stressful, boring, infuriating and a chore.
This weekend has opened my eyes to the fact that it doesn’t have to be this way. Training your dog (again) is hard work but totally worth it and this weekend showed me that we can and should still socialize our reactive dogs in a controlled manner and do this with people that know about dogs. Canicross is perfect for this and people are more than willing to help you and offer advice and tips and you get to keep yourself fit and your dog fit and engaged at the same time. Great bonding time!
Can’t wait for the next one:)
Linzi & Indie