Saturday, October 12, 2013

Reactive Reyna Runs a 5k!

When we were deciding what kind of dog we wanted on of my biggest "must haves" was a running buddy. A dog that would always be up for fun and ready to romp. We went with the high energy German Shepherd for their activity level, trainability and naturally protective nature.

When Reyna's excitability matured into full blown reactivity visions of group runs faded into the distance. We spent the next two years just trying to help Reyna cope with a world that was too stimulating for her. I remember how excited I was when we were able to go to our first doggy dash 5k in February 2012. We didn't participate, that would have been way too much. But we hung out on the outskirts and ate lots of treats for looking at the dogs in the distance.

We worked our way up to being able to go for walks and pass dogs without an explosion, and then retired the head collar as an unnecessary tool when we graduated to a flat collar.

Now we run, in a harness, with Reyna out in front Canicross style and I steer her through crowds with voice directional cues. I haven't taken treats with me in months. 

When we found out about a local dog friendly 5k I decided I thought we were ready to come in from the outskirts and really give our training a test. My husband came so that if the environment was too much with the crowds and dogs we could leave her relaxing in the car and I would run alone.

Reyna did fantastic!!!!! She had a blast and shot off the start line so hard I was afraid she would pull me off my feet. The start line wait was the hardest, all crowded together with tension everywhere and loudspeakers blaring, but we practiced deep breaths, she held her composure (except for some impatient whines to get GOING) and once we got moving she didn't give the other dogs or people a second thought, it was the two of us in the zone and working!

We blasted through the crowd and Reyna didn't slow to a trot until the 1 mile mark. The next two miles she held a steady working trot/run. She followed all the cues to navigate through the other runners and just did phenomenal.

We finished in a personal best 23:57 taking first place female finisher and being the first dog team across the finish line.. (it was sort of like cheating though since I basically ran with a turbo gear going the whole time!) All of our physical training paid off and all our behavioral work really showed as we mingled in the crowd, met with people and animals.

I am so proud of Reyna she is the dog I knew she could be. Somebody came up after the race and asked who trained her, I told her I did. She asked if I ever trained for other people because she said, "I have a lab mix that we can't take anywhere...he lunges growls, all his hair goes up and he barks at everything, he's not aggressive...he's just....nervous, crazy, I don't know how to describe it" I smiled "it's called reactivity, let me tell you Reyna's story..."