Walk of Shame

As I sit here and ponder how to start this post, I realize that I’m happy and thankful for several things in the blog and dog world. On Sunday Juli and I had our worst pack walk to date. Actually, Julius always has a superfantasticwonderfulgreat time no matter what he is doing. I, however, endured a self-imposed solo walk full of personal judgement. Fortunately, both the Erie-sisti-Bulls and Two Pitties in the City touched on a bit of what I was enduring in my head, which makes it easier for me to put into words what I was feeling.

I have a hard time thinking about Julius being “reactive” because that word has such a negative connotation, but the fact is he reacts whenever he sees, hears, or smells a dog. The fact that he is super friendly and only wants to meet and greet doesn’t alleviate the fact that he is screeching and pulling.


Our pack walking group is founded on a no judgement principle and everyone has been very supportive of Julius’ energy. Everyone but the gremlin who lives in my brain. We were a couple of minutes late which made me panic so when we arrived and the pack took off, I felt too embarrassed to assert myself. Julius needs to be at the front of the pack near a friendly dog, but we headed up the rear. Because we had such good success earlier in the week with a weighted backpack, I put that on him with his martingale collar. When he began straining and huffing, I felt at a loss, so as we kept stopping and redirecting, the pack pulled further and further away. They offered to wait, but while consumed in my embarrassment I waved them on then fostered a good lump of self-pity for being left behind.

Fortunately for me and my feelings of inadequacy, another member doubled back to retrieve a lost item and Julius and I continued on with them in a much more successful manner. This was a big learning for me. Our group is new and we are still feeling our way, so my take away is that we’ve all come together with a common goal: to walk and socialize our dogs in a non judgmental setting. If I -or anyone else- feels they need some kind of help or support or if we just have a simple request, we need to speak up. For me the danger in not continuing was great. After a few yards I wanted to hang it up for the week and go home. Stubbornness and pride won out and in the end, Julius won too. We completed our walk, and later that morning he got to shine in what he does best: dog interactions.

16 thoughts on “Walk of Shame

  1. You are so lucky that you have found a pack to walk with, I would love to find one where I could socialize BD! I know it’s easier said than done but don’t be too hard on yourself. If the walk had been a breeze you wouldn’t have learnt anything. Although it has been a little rough, you will have grown from this – both of you!

      • It does indeed, but how do I start a conversation “hi strange person, my dog agressive dog would like someone to play with. Fancy letting me dog play with yours?” Problem of moving to a new area I don’t know anyone and the local dog agility group I took him too said “that’ll teach him right” when he was bitten so I am keen to stay away from them!!

      • Our group is non contact and no dog/dog greetings are allowed. Possibly if you see a person walking their dog and chat you can build from there.

  2. I have these exact same issues with Ryker, not that he has any bad intentions but rather, would love to meet every dog. He’s big and pulls me and because of that, our walks are at home and not with a group, for no reason other than embarrassment on my part. Hang with it, you are an amazing dog mom and your boys adore you.

  3. Boomer has the exact same problem. He’s overly friendly! He wants to meet everyone so he screams and hollers and pulls in an effort to meet another dog. To me it’s so embarrassing and I haven’t been brave enough to set my “gremlins” aside to take him on a pack walk. I know that he’ll be fine with practice though.

    Dottie however did her very first pack walk this morning and did really well until she, while being the lead dog, had a breakdown over some squirrels. It was awful but we made it through. Just remember what I kept telling myself, everyone is here and working on an issue!

  4. Awwwww, you are your own worst critic. When I first got Melvin we worked with a behaviorist and every session we would start off by introducing Melvin verbally so I could say out loud the things about him I need to accept (for that time being or perhaps forever). The more we did that, the more I announced him (and I started doing it outside of training) the more I came to move beyond the words that explained who he was, to realizing the dog he was. She also made it clear to me (and a trainer did the same with Jake) that they were always going to be works in progress, just like we humans are. Melvin is reactive, sometimes it’s excitement (people) and sometimes it is dislike (other dogs/cats), Melvin is also a love monkey and he likes to slobber and he’s exuberant at the worst moments. Melvin is Melvin. Try it, I swear it works!

  5. Aww, I can relate to this. The other week Sam and I did an impromptu KC test, we unfortunately failed one section, but we’d done zero preparation so he actually did fab. But in that moment I really lost control of the situation which isn’t like me, and I felt really disheartened, like I just wanted to flee the arena! I’m over it now and I’ve learned from it, so hopefully you can too 🙂 And feel a little more confident on your future group walks 🙂

  6. Oh, man. I feel ya. I’m always so much harder on myself, and that’s the most difficult part to overcome. How lovely that you have a non-judgmental group to walk with. I wish I had something like that here!

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