Thursday night we joined our training group for training in a closed-down retail store. There are lots of obstacles such as elevators and escalators, and retail equipment to tunnel through. It's good training for dogs in service such as Therapy Dogs (like Juno) and cracked-up dogs (like Loki).
"Princess I don't know about you, but I don't like the look of that monster next to you."
"Hey mom, can you believe this girly-man? Why don't you give him one of those blue pills in your purse that you take when I chew up your shoes?"
Loki had a complete melt down on the escalator. He went up the first time no problem. On the second floor we did some basic obedience. In hind sight I should have just went up and down the escalators instead of giving him time to think because when it was time to go down, Loki cracked out. He bucked. He reared up. He barked.
So I went down with Juno and left him up there on his own. Either Juno is quite sane and does anything I tell her to do, or she smoked a doobie before class and just went with the flow. The escalator was no big thing to Juno. She went willingly and enjoyed the ride. She even recalled down an escalator to me on her own while a trainer held her from the top (we took her leash off for safety) .
"I'm so not even going to look at that monster!"
"Dude, this is THE invention of the CENTURY! The Dog Gods must have made these for chicks like me who like to exert minimal efforts in getting places."
While I was down with Juno, I hoped Loki's cracked-out pack drive would escalate him over his fear. Usually, if I want to get Loki to get over an obstacle, I put myself on the other side of it and recall him and he gets over his fear. He once climbed down a ladder (with no prior teaching) when he saw Mr. Wild Dingo drive into the parking lot of the training field. This time, instead, he ran around the second floor and barked and refused to use the escalator. Sigh. So up I went. I tried to heel him on easily. He bucked. I lured him with food. He reared, terrified. So we went down in the elevator with both dogs. Neither seemed to mind the elevator. Then I tried to go UP the escalator which he had done in the first place, again. Still no go. At some point, my ego got in the way and I actually tried to force him by dragging him by the leash. For the record, I don't recommend this method for cracked-out dogs.
"Listen Daddy-O, don't be such a pansy. These stairs ain't no big thing!"
"I'm sooooo not loooooooking!"
"Oh Cheeses! You're such a sissy!"
"Look, you just put one foot in front of the other."
"Why is it that I always where the jodhpurs in this family?"
I'm lucky that my classmates and trainers know Loki by now and can read his behavior as fear and not aggression. It was similar to what he used to do on the first day of class and most people read his behavior as aggression. I wish I had known then. I would have managed his fears much differently than I did. Everyone likes him and pets him and plays with him. But when they saw him break down, they were so sad and knew he was terrified. I wasn't proud of myself for how I let my ego get in the way of his real fears for trying to force him. In the end, I got him onto the metal platform and eating. But he never did ride the escalator again. Maybe another day.