Oh Ray!

Ray has expressed his interest in his walks from a long time ago. To be more precise, he has expressed his interest in where we walk! Typically, if our choice of route was not to his liking, he would just stop and stare at us and, if nothing resulted from that move, he would sit!

There are times when we freely let him chose the route, but there are others when we do have an agenda. In the latter scenario, we have a number of strategies which will generally resolve the problem.

1. Split up! One of us will stay with Ray, while the other one heads off in the desired direction. Ray is very “pack oriented” so will usually (eventually) start moving very reluctantly in the desired direction.

2. Go for a spin! On most streets where Ray stops, he only has a choice of two directions, and an option to cross the road. If we “spin him (turn) around” on his leash, he will often start moving again. Interestingly, he could end up going in the direction we wanted, but perhaps simply on the other side of the road.

3. Involve him! Often we just leash him and take him out on some pre-determined idea of a route. We found out by chance that if he knows where we are going in advance, there is a very good chance that he will cooperate. Now when he puts the brakes on, it’s “We’re going to the mailbox Ray” or “We have to go the bank” or (more recently) “We’re going to Timmies!” (Tim Hortons where we get coffees and Ray gets a TimBit).

4. Do nothing but wait! He will eventually make his move but, here in the middle of February, it is not always practical (comfortable) to stand and wait for his GSD/Rotti brain to figure things out.

5. “Show me!” When he either really wants something, or is feeling cooperative, the “Show me!” request can be the solution … but the “can be” is stressed.

This past weekend, he put the brakes on right at the end of our driveway. This was a little unusual, and we wondered whether he had some reason for not wanting to go for a walk. We turned him around but that had no impact, so we let the leash go slack. He started back down the driveway!

Clearly he must be experiencing some discomfort so we just followed  him … when he stopped. He was right alongside my car and stood facing the door which he uses when we take him anywhere. We looked at each other and smiled. “He wants to go for a drive!”

We decided to take him to a place where there are trail walks nearby, and his vet is about a 15-20 minute walk away should he want to visit there. Once he was out the car and we let him pick the direction, he headed off to his vets!

This was not a total surprise because the vets staff have always been very good to Ray, and he really likes his vet and a number of other staff members. As expected, he was given a very warm welcome (with treats), after which he happily walked us back to the car! The end of another eventful walk.


30 thoughts on “Oh Ray!

  1. I love this, Colin. Ray has ways of making his wishes known, doesn’t he? He sometimes gets a TimBit? My pups are jealous. I’ve been made fun of for talking to my dog. “Like he’s gonna talk back!” they’ll laugh. But he actually does. He has different barks, hums, growls, and expressions for dozens of different things. He also does a wo-wo-wo when he doesn’t agree, like if I say, “That’s it, no more treats.” Mine likes the vet, too. He is fascinated by people and wants to be friends with every one he sees. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • They can certainly express themselves well if we take the trouble to watch and listen. I know that Ray does not understand full sentences, but there are certain sounds that he homes in on very fast. For example, he loves “Greenies”, so we have to be careful with any sound that is close …. there is no “Green thing”, or “Beanie” or “G thing”. We will say something like “We need to buy another box of those toothbrush like things that Ray likes!”
      As for people? Ray was initially frightened of everybody, and every dog, that he met. His solution was to lunge and bark to make them go away. After getting some professional guidance, we now have a Ray who pretty much loves everybody …. because people and dogs mean treats! The joys and benefits of positive reinforcement training! Nice chatting Joan. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. They tell us in their own way don’t they Colin. Maggie has been known recently not to want to go round the Avenue, and will stand still and not budge! What she really wants is a walk round the park. Another time Hubby went up to the launderette and I walked her up to meet him. The idea was that he would walk her back. No chance. She wanted a ride and would not go with him. As soon as the door was open, she was in! I guess her joints play her up and she gets tired more easily, so we just let her set the pace. Sometimes though she has no choice and it’s our way or no way!

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    • A number of points of interest really. One important factor for us humans to remember is that it really is his walk … not ours. Without Ray we would not be doing those walks, and we must remember that Ray’s world is organized via his nose. What he sees is secondary, so he must have ample “sniffing time” to be an all around healthy dog! This is in our favour because his sensing system is so much more sophisticated than ours (he has a 2-stage analysis process) and he can get tired quite easily with constant sniffing! Long walks are not necessarily critical.

      While he can put a sound into a context (“Let’s go the mailbox”), it seems pretty certain that he is also weighing up the chances of treats. He does get treats when we get to the mailbox. However, whereas our bank has a biscuit jar for any visiting dogs, they are closed on Sundays, and we recently had a Monday holiday. Realizing that they were closed for two days in a row, the route past the bank currently has less interest to him! That could well have been the trigger to see the vet.

      As for his understanding of sounds? In addition to the usual “Sit”, Stay”, “Where the hell are you going” etc., he knows “Going for a ride in the car”, “Car Harness” (vs “Harness”) “Timmies”, “The Bank”, “Lululemon” “The Lake” and quite a few others. Of course the jackpot question when non-cooperative is “Does he not understand, or does he have another agenda?” This is why we like to give him choices, as that may give us a clue as to how he thinks.

      Ray obviously has no idea about how our society works, except in the context of his survival … but he has close to 80lbs which he uses to say ….. no ….. let’s go this way, not that way, and we are left to interpret that as best we can! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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