Giving it another paw

You may remember that last week at dog training class, I ran over Felix’s paw and he was acting scared of the wheelchair.

I had planned to do wheelchair training with him when we went to the fair over the weekend, but those plans ended up getting canceled, and I somehow totally forgot I was supposed to do wheelchair training with him! The outings we did in the meantime were all small and/or didn’t involve much walking/standing so I didn’t need my wheelchair.

Wednesday as I was feeling terrible from my COVID vaccination, a friend reminded me and asked how Felix was coming along with wheelchair retraining since I had dog training class Thursday. OOPS! Totally forgot. And I was too ill from the vaccination to do any training yesterday.

So yesterday morning we headed out and went to class. I figured worst case scenario I could spend class time working on walking with the wheelchair.

We went in and he did OK but not great walking with my wheelchair (walking further away than normal from my wheelchair but otherwise OK). Then class started, and the first exercise was about heeling. We had to go around cones in one direction, then turn around and do it in the other direction. He did one direction fine, but when we turned around something about the situation must’ve reminded him of me running over his paw and he put on the brakes and refused to move anywhere near the wheelchair. Poor guy. So I just picked him up and went back to our spot. No need to force him to do things he’s not comfortable with.

While the other people were taking their turns, I worked on moving forward and backwards a couple inches at a time and giving him treats so that he would get a little less afraid of my wheelchair. This seemed to work pretty well.

When it came time for our mid-class break, I had him heel across the building to the water fountain. He did a pretty dang good job, but he was taking treats really hard. Like almost biting my fingers hard. He’s never taken treats that hard before! For those that don’t know, when dogs are anxious about something, they tend to take treats more roughly in their mouths. But at least he was heeling!

We had to leave 10 minutes before the end of class to get home to facilitate a NAMI meeting, and I was bummed to miss out on platform and pivot work. But it was probably good for Felix to have a bit of a shorter class period since he was a bit stressed about having to work with the wheelchair.

He’ll be working a lot with my wheelchair this weekend as I have a retreat I’ll be going to, so I’ll bring lots of treats with me and spend lots of time training whenever he’s comfortable enough for it.

Leave a Reply