Given Ray’s distinct current priority of guarding Carol; a likely hidden agenda of ensuring that she does not disappear again, and acknowledging her current mobility limitations, how to get him out for a walk is the current challenge although we do have a solution. Turkey!
We have in our freezer, small bags of meat that was stripped from some turkey necks we bought some time ago. The solution to getting Ray away from Carol and out on a walk was really simple. I just had to ensure that he knew I had a bag of turkey meat on me and, knowing how strong his food drive is, the rest would be a very simple process.
Late yesterday evening (we had another hot and humid day), the time came when I decided to get him out for a walk. The routine is usually pretty straight forward. Put his harness on; check that I have poop bags; treats; his collapsible water bowl; bottle of water, and book promo cards (just in case we meet somebody who shows an interest in him)!
The only usual hiccup in the process is that sometimes he will take a walk around the house in order to avoid putting his head through the harness “loop”. That only lasts a minute or two and then he cooperates!
This time, the first thing I did was to show him the small bag of turkey meat which I then put in my pocket. I went to get his harness and received instant cooperation. I walked towards our back door, to get and attach his leash, and Ray was right behind me. He followed me down the steps and through the gate and, apart from occasionally looking around, his eyes were fixated on my pocket. This was going to be easier than I thought, but I gave him a small piece of turkey anyway just to keep his motivation level high!
The first problem came when about half-way down our driveway. He stopped and looked at me, and then at the house. Turkey meat to the rescue! I gave him another, and slightly larger, piece of turkey meat and off we went again… for at least another 7-8 steps. This time he not only stopped, but he went into a sit position.
A dog like Ray who is extremely food motivated, and can be very manipulative, has to be treated carefully in these circumstances because he will take advantage of “the system” if he can. Whereas my earlier treating with the turkey was intended to stimulate his senses to make him cooperative, he could well have seen it as an opportunity to get more turkey if he stopped. If that was his thinking, then it had clearly worked!
Not wishing to compound the problem, I turned him around and he happily trotted back into the house and went to check up on Carol! A few moments later, I coaxed him out again. He was okay until he was on the driveway, where he made it quite clear that he was not going to leave. I was not prepared to bribe him so we turned around and decided to forget the idea for that evening.
One possible flaw in the plan was that the turkey was frozen and, while Ray certainly knew what it was and was very interested, thawed turkey would probably be much more enticing. Another possibility for next time is that Ray does seem to appreciate knowing in advance just where we are going, so perhaps I’ll say “C’mon Ray. Mailbox!” We shall see!