Trial By Storm
While waiting for the shock collar to arrive, and getting a little tired of the hustle, I decided to take Maui out for a walk, not just around the yard, but outside. I know my neighborhood enough to know where the safe spots are, where cars don't go about, and where the stray and outside cats roam the least. It has been an odd hobby of mine to track the activity of cats when I go out for my routine stuff. This hobby has paid off! I guess.
Maui still has some kind of beef with the outdoor cats, but now I want to see how he will respond to the open world. Sometimes, in order to see potential problems, we have to run something through its course. Not to mention doing homework for everything I need to do is starting to get quite tiring.
Here's me also hoping that Maui's problems with other cats will decrease through this. By exposing him to the rest of the world and its chaos, it may desensitize him a little bit, perhaps enough to push my plan of peace and harmony into fruition.
Or maybe it will just increase Maui's anxiety over them. Hopefully, my previous leash training sessions and obedience training with Maui will pay off. Either way, I will get important information.
I just wished I took the time to get another kind of important information for this walk.
So, with the retractable leash, the body harness, and a small bag with some boiled, dried liver, we went out. It was a decent day, not too sunny and not too hot, as I would not want Maui to walk on hot asphalt. I hope I remembered some of the training processes correctly.
As expected, there weren't many people outside. Just the usual people tending to their plants out their gates and a few passersby. As I also expected, Maui's training badly needed reinforcement.
We were fine around a few minutes, then Maui started pulling. I stopped to deny him the walk (Negative Punishment). He kept pulling for about a minute, then perhaps because of his low attention span, decided to stop pulling. I gave him a food reward for that. (Positive Reinforcement). This went on for a while. Sometimes, Maui would stop as soon as I stop, but there are some moments where he would pull in a different direction with all his strength. The body harness doesn't choke him in any way, but it requires a lot of strength to resist the pull. If I had a regular neck collar, I could apply gentle pressure by pulling, so I'll get a proper flat collar at some point.
I understand that sometimes, I have to let Maui have a go and whichever is catching his attention. Dogs leave their "messages" around everywhere and sometimes, some dogs want to reply with their own "messages". In some cases, it's better to get it over with than continuously fight Maui throughout the walk.
This seemed to have worked. Walking about for 10 minutes now and reminding Maui of our yard walking training seemed to pay off a little bit. He's pulling less now, and when I stop, he quickly returns, likely expecting a treat. I still feel that it's some kind of bribe. I wonder if it will pay off in the future somehow?
And this was the time when I regretted not looking into the news before I came out. I didn't notice how gray the clouds above me were. The next thing I knew, thunder rolled above and it began to rain suddenly and heavily. Suffice to say I didn't have an umbrella. We were at least 10 minutes away from the house. I had 2 choices: either to look for a place to take shelter, or rush home. I prefer a more optimal solution. If I waited for the rain to lessen, it could take twice the time I would have gotten home, and if Maui doesn't sit still for the duration, I could just end up rushing home, wasting my time waiting.
So, we rushed home. I tugged the leash and began to jog. He followed suit, and to my surprise, kept pace with me instead of leading. Is there something about the rain? Do we both understand that we need to go home? Or do we both just don't like being drenched?
I sped up, pushing this average paternal body of mine. Up to an almost sprint. Maui wasn't planning on getting left behind, Maui was running with me, even keeping up pace with me. The only time he would slow down is when we make a turn, but when we start running straight, he instantly keeps pace with me.
Even with the other neighborhood dogs barking at us, he didn't get distracted at all. Perhaps in his head, there is only running, raining, and perhaps both our dislike for getting drenched. However, by the time we got home, we were quite drenched already. Maui shook as much of the water off of him and my wife promptly gave both of us towels, and a mild scolding for not bringing an umbrella.
After a while, I noticed that Maui making himself comfortable inside the office inside his crate, perhaps still a bit cold. Either because it's warm, or because he actually had a good time and got tired. The lightning storm is still rolling by, but Maui seems fine. That's thunderstorm anxiety off my list.
Which then got me thinking. Maui needs some of this pent-up energy out. This may be half the reason why he's so unruly recently. Perhaps he was fine on his first few weeks since he's spending most of his mental energy trying to adapt to his new circumstances. Now that he's adjusted to it, he doesn't spend as much mental energy as before, and it all gets pent up. I may have missed a few subtle signs of anxiety back then.
Something to add to my routine now is to see if I can jog with Maui outside, perhaps in the morning. I live a rather sedentary lifestyle, optimal, but sedentary nonetheless. Jogging does not, a sedentary lifestyle, make. I'm just whining, as I know the benefits of this activity. If I can do it more often, not only can I help Maui release some much-needed energy, I also get a bit healthier. Perhaps Maui can be more responsive to positive reinforcement training.
Yet another thing to add to my ever-growing list of things to do as a Pet Parent. This time, however, this sudden storm has given me something that may reduce some of my worries. Thanks to this, I understand Maui a little bit more.