I finally listened to the most recent episode of Cog Dog Radio where Sarah addressed decompression walks in more detail, and she gives some guidelines for how to tell if the exercise you're giving your dog is taxing vs. tiring. I'm still trying to figure out what that means for Ida, but it might just mean some time in the back yard sniffing out hot dogs.
This last week Ida and I...
... went to the open field on Saturday morning, as soon as it was light enough to walk; we encountered one dog. Ida barked at him from far away; when we encountered him the second time she was much calmer about it, easier to redirect towards me and taking treats.
... were finally able to track down some calming chews with the ingredients that I am after - I actually found two brands that might work. Being a scientist, I plan to try a one-participant randomized trial, but I haven't figured out what the best method for that is yet.
... tried the Chill Dog calming chews before driving to agility. Ida was perceptively calmer for the first half of the ride.
... ran a full agility course while there was another dog directly in the area that Ida could see and access. It wasn't clean, and Ida was clearly not happy about it, but she did it and she did it without struggling too much. She even recalled when we were running right towards the other dog.
... used tug almost exclusively as a reward in class, even mid-run!
... there was less shaking in the car this week without the thundershirt. I think part of the recent shaking has been from being in a cold car, but she was definitely not worse without the thundershirt.
... when Ida wore a coat in the car, she didn't shake (shiver?); I'm going with the shaking was due to cold.
... Ida setting herself up in 2o2o on the A-frame as soon as we entered the ring.
This next week I plan to...
... make a list of Dreams and Goals for each of my dogs and myself. It'll be in an upcoming blog post - stay tuned!
... go for an off-leash (or maybe long-line) walk at the park with a dog that Ida has met before and got along with. Luath is a very gentle soul and she and Ida seemed to get along really well last time.