Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Baffling Bingley

A couple of posts ago I said that Bingley’s walks were returning to normal, but I’m afraid that I spoke too soon! Walking Bingley continues to be a source of pleasure and frustration, with the bouts of agoraphobia cropping up at the most unexpected moments. It's difficult not to suspect some wilful minded stubbornness at play here; that certainly accounts for some of the episodes, but there are times when he really does become quite distressed.

The early morning walks are normally ok, and when he stops and digs his heels in I usually only have to wait a few moments before trying again with more success. But I've been attempting to incorporate some much-needed socialisation into our lunchtime outings because, as any visitor to the house will testify, Bingley can be exhaustingly enthusiastic when it comes to greeting everyone who calls to see us. Unfortunately he’ll also jump up at anyone who gets close enough on our walks, and he can get himself into quite a state of over-excitement if he’s given the chance. Avoiding people was a short term tactic which worked, but it clearly isn’t sustainable; so I’ve been trying to include busier areas on our afternoon walks. I then make him sit and just watch people walk past, and when he doesn’t try to juggernaut his way towards them I give him lots of praise.

At least that’s the plan!

Implementing this is proving to be a challenge in itself. Today was a good example: we happily spent a bit of time on Bingley’s Field, and then I tried to take him onto the streets. He was fine for a few moments, but when it came time to cross the road we got only half way over before he stopped walking; and to make things worse he wouldn’t go back again – so I ended up stuck in the middle of the road with a puppy who wouldn’t budge.

I’m now a little more prepared for this, so I’m selecting to cross only very quiet roads; consequently, I was able to sit there with him whilst he settled down and agreed to come back to the pavement.

There doesn’t seem to be a pattern to this behaviour: with roads, for example, he’ll sometimes cross, he sometimes won’t; and it doesn’t seem to matter whether the area’s quiet or noisy, built up or exposed.

It’s a mystery.

Of course I’m pretty certain that this is just ‘a stage’ which he’s going through, so I’m more frustrated than concerned. Nevertheless, I hope that this stage doesn’t go on for much longer – I’m looking forward to getting Bingley down to the beach.

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