Tuesday Topics #35 - Getting Soft

cabana sauntering along a path through dried weeds, looking carefree and enjoying herselfI used to take Cabana to different parks and walking paths all the time, rotating through our favorite places as well as looking for new favorites. But last spring, after Cabana got a foxtail in her nose, I stopped going to so many different places. During the summer, Cabana and I walked daily to the soccer fields at King Park because the lawns there are always green and well-manicured, with no threat of foxtails. We got to know the people and dogs at King Park really well because we saw them so regularly.

cabana romping happily in field of dried weedsFinally, we've been able to go back to our old favorite walking path, now that the foxtails are gone and the weeds have been cut back somewhat. Cabana has a great time, sniffing all the smells, roaming leash-free, running pell mell. Well, for the most part. We've gone there a few times recently, but every time, I have noticed a big change in Cabana.

group of dogs and humans passing by in the distanceCabana seems to consider the green grassy fields of King Park her home turf, so whether there are big dogs, unfamiliar dogs, yappy dogs, she usually gives them a greet-and-sniff. Sure, she doesn't choose to play with every single dog, but at least she isn't fearful.

However, when we are NOT at King Park, Cabana's confidence around other dogs diminishes greatly. In the photo above, some dogs pass by, and Cabana skirts WAY around them to avoid them entirely. These are dogs that we have met MANY times before. They aren't mean, but granted, they are on the older side, maybe slightly curmudgeon-ish.

cabana sitting in the field, forlornly looking to the side at the passing dogs and humansIf we pass a dog directly in our path and Cabana can't avoid it, she pulls back her ears and allows herself to be sniffed, but very grudgingly. She doesn't bark or act aggressively, but she just acts very uncomfortable, like, "Do I really have to do this?"

A few times when I have taken Cabana to other dog parks recently, Cabana doesn't even want to get out of the car. Or she gets out but then won't play with ANY other dog, even friendly little pups who do everything they can to initiate play with her. She even refuses other Labs, which used to be a surefire favorite. She doesn't act fearful the whole time; she does roam and sniff. But it seems like she's saying, "This isn't MY park. These aren't MY friends." (This is exactly what happened at doggie daycare a couple months ago--she wouldn't play with the other dogs and just acted tentative the whole time.)

I don't know if Cabana is getting more fearful, or if it's just what dogs do as they mature. After all, she can't act like a puppy forever, when she expected every dog to be her new best friend. But as a dog that got career changed for wanting to meet and play with every dog in a 5-mile radius, it does concern me that she has become so hesitant.

Cabana has always been a bit of a soft (sensitive) dog, but is she getting too soft? Should I keep trying to take her to lots of different places again so she'll be accustomed to them, or should I just take her where she feels comfortable? After all, the dog park is supposed to be fun for her, not a chore.

Ro  – (October 26, 2010 at 11:15 AM)  

Weird. You know, sometimes I think our dogs just have some crazy quirks. Just today Jayden refused to go down our road again, something he gotten over, or so I thought. I had to get my cane out and then he wouldn't heel. I had to stop and do obedience and finally he walked in good heel position as I caned it.

I know dogs like their routines. Maybe Cabana is just telling you she likes the dog park and is perfectly happy there? Who knows. Dogs are strange creatures, as I'm finding out. Maybe this is just her personality really starting to form. Maybe she's really a bit of an introvert and likes having a few close friends rather than friend everyone? I don't know if it's anything to be concerned about, but didn't she get hurt at a dark park once? Am I remembering that correctly?

Mimi and CC Cabana  – (October 26, 2010 at 12:19 PM)  

I agree, Ro, dogs do seem to have their little quirks, just like us! ;)

Cabana got hurt at the park she likes and that we go to all the time. She's never been hurt at the one where she acts shy/fearful. It would make sense if she'd been hurt there, but no, never.

I agree that if Cabana just has a shy personality as an adult dog, then I'm fine with that. On the other hand, I don't want her to become inflexible because I didn't do enough to socialize her and acclimate her to variety. That's my dilemma.

Raiser Erin  – (October 26, 2010 at 12:45 PM)  

That's quite strange. It sounds a bit like my Arwen. She was the most confident puppy ever, but when she grew up and is now scared of her own shadow (true story).

Dogs are animals of habit. I know Freya got a bit confused when Mr. L decided to go a different way when starting their normal evening walk. Maybe she's just confused that you aren't going to her normal places.

JackDaddy  – (October 26, 2010 at 1:16 PM)  

I think maybe she's just getting older. Even Jack doesn't seem to react to dogs like he did when he was younger.

Ro  – (October 26, 2010 at 2:04 PM)  

I wouldn't think this is from anything you've done. It sounds like you've done anything and everything with her, so how could it be that? Maybe this is just who she is. I'm interested to see what others say, though.

Kari in WeHo  – (October 26, 2010 at 5:43 PM)  

its interesting to see how dogs evolve once you get them into a routine and then try something new


Carrie and Waffle  – (October 26, 2010 at 10:55 PM)  

Maybe she is just not sure if it is her home turf as you put it. Waffle is terrible when I take her some place that is not one of 'her' parks. All wet mouth and shy - she seems to be enjoying herself but there is a low level of uneasyness in her the whole time.

I guess it is all in what you know and love.

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