It is so confusing sometimes
Last year I put my boy in group obedience to help us with his dog reactivity/aggression. It did us a ton of good. Soon after the classes ended (Nov), we started Nose works (Jan). It's now July and aside from 1 medium incident at the beginning of NW Classes there has been no reactivity outbursts from him either in class or out and about. Now granted, I still keep a healthy distance between us and other dogs when out around town but he is so much more relaxed.
No outbursts until last week. We were walking and I have been feeling really good about all of everything. So good that I start questioning if maybe I labeled him incorrectly. Should I really be marking him down as reactive/aggressive on the NW registrations for ORT and soon trials. Thinking all this while walking along, feeling really good and then wham! I didn't see the woman and her dog cross the street to our side. Didn't catch my boys early signals in time. It was honestly a mild reaction compared to where we were over a yr ago and he was quick to respond to the correction but darn it all I really wasn't looking for that kind of answer to my "wondering if question".
Then to confuse me more, this morning, we were walking to the town park. Just before crossing the street to go into the park I stop and observe who is there like I always do. I see a man with his 2 yr old female dog. We have talked before. I really like this guy and his dog. He trains her and is conscientious. So I go in the park and he recognizes me and we wave hi. As he's leaving the park, I ask him if he would mind if I parallel walk with him keeping a bit of distance between us.
Aside from an initial mild stiffening and a quick mild collar pop, my boy was walking nicely. He was doing quick glances her way but I swear he was just making sure she was staying where she should be (next to her owner) it wasn't the same as the precursor stare that is one of his signals.
The guys dog was doing well also up until she went off on a truck that went by. At that point I stopped walking as the guy gave his girl a firm correction and a solid down command. I was paying attention to him when I realized how slack the leash felt so I turned to look at my boy and he is in a down also. A very relaxed down not a stiff muscle in his body. Soft eyes, open mouth happy face. What the heck??? Good boy, so proud of you but what's up with all of this.
I did get the feeling that maybe the parallel walk could have stressed the guys dog and she may have directed her stress on the passing truck (I'm not sure as it was just a feeling) so when he had her by his side and all was calm, I thanked him and headed back to the park.
I can usually puzzle stuff out and my first thought, because he downed from the guys command, that maybe my boys memory of the obedience classes kicked it. The trainer would call out "put your dog in a down" and the whole group would do as told. I just don't know. Also, and I just thought of this, her aggression towards the truck did not trigger an aggressive reaction from my boy.
Would appreciate any thoughts.
"If you can't see his soul when you look in his eyes, then you need a seeing-eye dog"