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Discussion Starter #1
After so much rain, yesterday was a perfect day. A sunny 70ish. The only problem; it's Saturday and Little League baseball is in full force. So my choices of where to take him will be somewhat limited, though I do have quite a few spots that I have found over the course of time and a bazillion hours of driving around looking for them. I call them adventures and Sonny is at the door lickity split when I say it. His reaction always puts me in a good mood.

I actually started in the back yard intending to just play for a while. But we were of one mind. The back yard seemed boring and we both wanted to get out and about.

As we get in the car, I'm calculating the spots and which ones are the best bet. I drive by the town park and, as assumed, it was crowded with games going on, families and people walking their dogs. Just too crowded for my taste. He lets out a small whine as we pass. I ignore it. My brain is busy thinking.

A few miles later, I'm parked at another ball field. My boy is antsy. He loves this spot. It's four fenced in ball fields with free space between them. I scan the area; calculating. There is a man with four kids practicing in the front right field, a man with two kids in the field behind that one. The left front feld is empty and a man just got out of his car to use the portable potty. No dog in his car. Safe enough for us so we hop out and head to the left side and turn following the fence to get to the very back end.

My boy is a happy pup. Nose to the ground sniffing for anything and everything. I'm relaxed and just scanning when I see another car come in. Shoot and darn it, a guy with his dog. The dog's head happily hanging out the window. I feel the need to leave and head back to my car hoping to get there before the guy parks and gets out. I'll have to pass his car to get to mine. The guys dog sees us and starts barking aggressively. My intuition was correct. My boy is fully aware but not one peep. Just silently walking and very observant but no stiffness. To my surprise, as soon as the guy's dog went off, he turns to the street and leaves.

So I pause a little then turn back round and continue our walk. Sonny is happy again, but I kind of felt bad for the guy. He must be out doing what I do. Scouting safe spots.

We were walking in the back field for a while when I notice a man, woman, and three dogs playing, off leash now occupying the front left fenced in field. I'm parked in front of that field. The entrance to the fields have no gates. I stop and again listen to my gut. We head back to the car but follow the path that skirts the other side where the kids are practicing. As I get closer I watch the dogs and owners. All are exclusively intent on each other. Not really a threat. My boy is relaxed. A little more curiosity from him as we get closer but he loads up fine.

For a moment I watch the humans and dogs just for the fun of watching them. I look at my boy and he is watching with easy curiosity also. I wish I could hear his thoughts. he may have been thinking it would be fun to join in. I take off to the next spot.

A few minutes later I'm parked at a high school. Good. not much going on and the back end is empty. My boy is fidgety as I get out and scan for another moment. Sure enough, a woman is walking and her off leash dog is keeping up at his own pace, i.e. running here trotting there, keeping her in sight. I watch as they head away from us. The area is huge and I'm pretty sure I know where she is headed so safe enough for us.

I open the door and off we go in the opposite direction. It was a nice quite walk. Large field with woods abutting. No request for obedience other than slow down from time to time. I drop the long line and let him not feel me. Funny but when that line is dropped that's when he feels me the most. He doesn't like like it when I wander from him. And when he runs to check in, I give him the same OMG I missed you where have you been reaction he gives me when I come home. He gets all wiggly and excited, zips through my legs a few times and with a atta boy pat I send him off so he can do more sniffing. We both love this ritual.

We are behind a building now and it's getting quite hot for his black coated body. Time to head back. I choose to continue around the building rather than retrace our path since there could be a chance the woman will come back that way. On the side of the building theres another parking lot with one car. Probably the woman's car. I turn the last corner of the building and as I approach my car, I see the woman and her off leash dog heading back also. I love my intuitive gut. We hop in the car and head home. My boy has the happy tongue out smiley face and lets out a small whine as he sees our house.

It was a good day for us.
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I certainly know the struggle of scanning surrounding and having dogs pop up everywhere. I also have a hard time finding places without people for my reactive cattle dog. We have made great progress but we aren’t fully there yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
@konathegsd just a suggestion, I have found that if I am driving down main road with lots of houses and there is woods in the back properties, if there is a church on that road, it is worth checking out the back side.

I am conscious about asking permission if there is someone in the church but if not, I will explore anyway. I have found some wonderful empty woods and large empty lots. (Sat and Sun aren't good days for this. Just saying :) The reason for the need for empty areas is that I have him on a diet and he's doing really well with the weight loss but building up the muscles is a bit of a challenge because his most comfortable exercise is a gaited trot and he needs freedom to do that on comfy woods or field grounds.

I don't know how long you have been working with the reactivity but mine is now almost age 7 yrs and at this point he knows what I expect of him so he minds his p's & q's. I've also noticed as he ages, there has been a settling of sorts. He's not so quick to spend unnecessary angry energy the won't get him anywhere. Kind of like humans acquiring wisdom. Lol.
 

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YAY!!!! It's amazing what you can accomplish when you and your dog are in tune with each other, and you take the time to create good experiences that build success for the dog. Your dog is very lucky to have you as an owner -- great job!
 

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And I am another one who understands the struggle of finding unused spots to let my dog relax and enjoy. We have worked hard but I still tense a bit when I see off leash dogs.
I have driven for hours to get Shadow out of the way so we can both relax and enjoy.
I do the same thing, mapping other peoples potential routes in my brain and avoiding, and yes you get that "spidey-sense" thing going on. I have found that 4am is a good time for walks. Lol.

Glad you both had a good time.
 

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Your Story & the Pic = Big smile on my face....Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #7
@Magwart, thank you for the kind words. And what so many here say about their own, I'm the one who is lucky. I really do feel blessed to share life with him.

As for trapsing around at 4AM @Sabis mom (back atcha on the mention) not doing that no way no how. You're braver than I even if accompanied by a GSD.
@Shanes' Dad thanks for letting me know it brought a smile as that was the reason why and where I posted it. Dog aggression and or reactivity can be so hard and can be an emotional roller coaster, especially as a first time owner which I am but I have a few yrs now under my belt learning and managing it and I wanted to let people see that there is joy to be had with these dogs when out and about every day. Along with the training classes we took, I've found that it's not very hard as long as I use my noggin.

Thanks again
 

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Your story was not only a good read, but really educational for me!

Just this morning, we were coming up the trail and a man with a big dark dog (I couldn't see clearly) saw us and paused. To my surprise, he waved at me, TURNED AROUND and they went back the way they came?! My first thought was, wow, does Rumo really look so wild that he is afraid to pass us? I also felt bad for them because there is only one way to make a loop on that trail (unless he cuts crosscountry ). Then I realized that maybe his dog is like yours, and needs its space.

Other friends with dog-aggressive dogs have had horrible incidents. One friend's dog bit a puppy and rarely gets walked anymore. Another friend's dog, after lots of training and work by my friend, bit a human. This friend's dog only gets to walk on a treadmill now. So, you're giving your dog this life...is a great thing.
 

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I am so glad you had such a good day. It seems like lot of GSDs suffer from dog reaction/aggression. I am also struggling with this. Good to read your story and know that we can be happy with our dogs, even if "it is what it is." Thanks for sharing your day.
 
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