If I'm being completely honest, after Polly's disappearing act regarding the incident with boxer dog in the woods last weekend, I am now experiencing a few collywobbles when it comes to letting her off lead on our daily walks. I hear my inner paranoid dog owner making excuse after excuse to keep her firmly attached to me and have had to argue firmly with myself, to let her have a play. Needless to say, each time I have bitten the bullet to fight my paranoia, Poll has been as good as gold and returned without a hitch.
Earlier this week me 'n the Pollster met with our friends Jane and Molly for a walk in Hucking Woods. Regular readers may recall I have been concerned about Polly's overly dominant play with lovely Molly, as my teenage girl has been jumping on poor Molly's back, making her somewhat wary of Polly's exhuberant attentions. I decided to take a firm stance with Poll, so with Jane's agreement we gave Molly an opportunity to run free first whilst initially keeping Polly on her lead, to try and rebuild Molly's confidence with Polly. It also gave Poll time to calm down, as she's always very excited when we first arrive at the woods to meet Molly.
After a little while, we let Polly off lead to see how things went between the two dogs. The moment Polly became too bumptious with Molly, I reclaimed her, telling her in a firm voice 'off', 'enough' and 'no more' (used to say that frequently to my kids too, shaking my disapproving pointy finger when they were young!) as I re-clipped her lead. It took two or three attempts to get the 'play nicely or you'll be back on the lead' message through to Polly and for Molly to understand it was perfectly okay to stand her ground with Polly - eventually we made a breakthrough with a less dominant Polly and a more confident Molly and by about halfway through our walk both dogs were off lead and playing together more equally. Hopefully this will be the start of a return to balanced play between our canine girl friends.
It seems to me, Polly's current teenage phase (she is now almost fifteen months old) seems to present fresh challenges in terms of independence and confidence in much the same way as my children did when they were growing up!