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Reactive Road Trip – Lessons Learned

Although we did have a few reactivity issues, overall, I was very impressed with Odin’s behavior during the trip. It goes to show how much his training has paid off. When we took him to a beach in Carmel last year, it was nearly impossible to get him back and leashed up when it was time to leave. This time, he was very focused on me, recalled very easily, and allowed us to leash him with no issues! Although I do A LOT of training with Odin, I was concerned that it wasn’t going to be enough for him to ever be an off leash or public dog (especially with him wanting to meet every dog he sees). This trip was a nice reminder of how well he is behaved in most situations. For most of the time in cities while seeing other dogs, we were able to manage his reactivity and he heeled/listened to commands even in the presence of distractions.

This trip showed me how far we have come in his training. Sometimes I get worried about Odin because we can’t always do the things that normal dogs do. He has restrictions at the dog park which means he doesn’t get to socialize as much as we would like him too. And because of his reactivity, we don’t get to do a lot of things in public (i.e. going out to dinner, or bringing him to the local downtown area). During this trip, I could see how far he has come along and how much all the time spent training has paid off. I hope this can inspire some of you to continue along the journey of diligently managing your dog’s reactivity. This is something that does take time. There is no overnight cure for reactivity. It is a bunch of little baby steps forward usually followed by a step backwards. Keep going and be persistent in your training. If you would have asked me a year ago, I would have never believed Odin’s reactivity would have been managed this well. Yes, there is still a long way to go in his journey, however this has made me hopeful and it was the energizing boost I needed to continue with his training.

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Coming out of the trip, there are a handful of things that we learned that we need to work on in addition to his reactivity. The two big things we need to work on are (1) reduced barking when one of us leaves the room and (2) working on him settling/relaxing. Although no one complained about his barking, it was not something I was proud of. Every time one of us left the room, Odin would worry and bark. Also, while we were in the hotel rooms, he had a hard time relaxing and would be constantly looking for something to do (this included trying to steal the bathroom towels, toilet paper, and trash cans in the hotel room) even though we had provided him with plenty of chews/puzzles. In the near future, I will post how I will be tackling each one of these issues and hopefully if you run into the same issues while traveling, they can be used as a guide.

One of the biggest things that helped me with traveling with a reactive dog was all the planning I did ahead of time. I researched beaches, trails, and locations to ensure that we were taking Odin to places where he could be successful. Bring Fido (website and app) and All Trails were very helpful in facilitating this planning. Bring Fido has information on dog friendly restaurants, hotels, activities, and dog parks all over the US. I utilize this app quite often as it is loaded with information. I used All Trails to find local dog friendly trails and found ones that were labeled “low traffic” to help ensure that we were reducing the chances of running into other dogs. Also, I had given myself soo many activity options that if we couldn’t do something, we had about 5 other things to choose from. My Oregon Road Trip travel binder was jam packed with all this information and was one of the biggest reasons for our successful trip.

Overall, these are the pieces of advice I found most helpful while traveling with a reactive dog:

1. Be flexible

If you get somewhere and there are too many dogs/triggers and you know that your dog will not be successful, skip it. You may not get to see what you wanted but your experience will be ten times worse if you try to do the activity and both you and your dog end up frustrated. If your dog is happy and calm, you will be happy and calm and be able to create happy memories.

We had to do this a handful of times during our trip. We decided not to do the Mount Pisgah Summit or Cannon Beach because of the large amounts of dogs visiting these places. We made the decision to not stop at these places during the trip and found less stressful things to do instead.

2. Avoid the hassle and order in

For almost every dinner during our road trip we ordered in as we knew it would be hard to eat out with Odin. This made eating significantly less stressful which made everything more enjoyable. We made sure we had hotels with nice views so we could have cozy dinners in our room every evening.

This is a big stress saver for both you and your dog. Also, you can eat in your pajamas in bed. What could be better?!

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3. Travel during the off season and do activities during off times

Go when you know there will be less people. We knew that traveling during the rainy season in Oregon meant less people and less dogs. This was one of the main reasons why we had lots of the places we visited to ourselves. The Oregon Garden and many of the state parks we had all to ourselves because it was not the high season. It was colder for us, but it made everything about our trip more enjoyable as we did not need to worry so much about other dogs.

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Hopefully, my postings can provide with some value and hope in terms of owning a reactive dog. When I first found out that Odin was reactive, I thought we would never be able to do something like this. However, with the right planning and mindset, it can be done.

If you have any tips or advice from your experience from traveling with your dog (reactive or otherwise) please comment below to share your experiences with others!

Disclaimer: Odin has moderate reactivity and can be managed to ensure the safety of all parties. Not all reactive dogs will be able to go on a road trip and the ability of your dog should be assessed by you and your reactivity trainer.

Reactive Road Trip: Day 7 & 8 Update – Driving Days

I wanted to post this entry last night while we were in Dunsmuir, however the very sketchy Travelodge we were staying in had no WIFI in addition to the phone lines being down. Also, there was very little data coverage in the area so it made it almost impossible to do anything online. So here is the late post for Day 7. I included it with Day 8 as both days were rather uneventful. They were driving days and we did not really do anything exciting.

Day 7:

Today we are traveling from Newport back to Dunsmuir. Since we knew we would be driving for 5.5 hours today, we wanted to start the day off at the beach and play Frisbee with Odin before spending the day in the car. The beach was right below the Hallmark Resort and it was rather isolated. I watched the beach while we were packing and getting ready for the day and saw that the beach had very light traffic. I had only seen 1 person walking along the beach while we were getting ready. It was really nice being on such a secluded beach as we didn’t really need to keep an eye out for other dogs. We were able to put all of our focus into having a good time.

Little did we know that we had an audience watching at the hotel above the beach. The hotel’s breakfast area was located directly above the beach where we were playing. When Odin and I went to the lobby to check out, two families came to tell me that they were watching and were impressed with his tricks and Frisbee skills. Odin got many pets from them before we left. I was very proud of how he behaved in the lobby. He remained focused on me when we entered and approached the desk. Even after he had finished getting petted by the families he remained focused on me and was perfectly heeling while we left the lobby. All of the focus training we have been doing at him is paying off.

We had a long drive to Dunsmuir. We made a stop in Shasta (about 20 min north of Dunsmuir) to stop and play Frisbee in their local dog park. The dog park at Shastice Park was very nice and had a good amount of trees in it which was nice. We were the only ones at the park and we played until Odin stopped bringing the Frisbee back. From there we went to check into our hotel.

When we pulled into the parking lot of the very secluded Dunsmuir Travelodge, we instantly knew we were staying in a less than average hotel. The main check in area was in an empty detached diner and the guy checking us in was a little grimy. Once we had checked in, the front desk guy informed us that the phones and WIFI in the hotel did not work. Also the location had very little cell service and data coverage. It reminded us of something out of a horror film. Also it probably didn’t help that during the 5.5 hour drive we had been listening to murder and serial killer podcasts… But we did survive the night so I guess it was fine.

Day 8:

This was another uneventful day. We packed up for the last time and loaded ourselves into the car for the 4 hour drive home.

Overall, we had a very good trip. I was very impressed with how well Odin’s training and reactivity management was coming along. We still have a few things to work on which became apparent during the trip (ie. barking every time one of us leaves the hotel room), but all in all, it was a very fun and manageable trip. We had a great time and we were all a little sad that the trip had come to an end. Time to plan our next adventure!

Reactive Road Trip: Day 6 Update – The Oregon Coast

Today we left Astoria and started our journey south back towards home. Our journey along the coast started at Del Rey Beach. Nothing exciting here. It was a secluded beach, nothing too spectacular. We played a little Frisbee and after about 6 throws we saw a dog coming down the beach so we left.

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View from Ecola Point Day Use Area

We were off to Ecola State Park which is located off of highway 101. We started our exploration of the park at the Ecola Point Day Use Area. There were two dogs in a car when we pulled into the lot, however we got lucky as the dogs remained in the car.  I hooked Odin up to his leash and we were off the explore the Day Use Area. The Area had overlooks of Crescent Beach, Bird Rock, and Chapan point. The Area was small (about 1 mile of trail total) and easy to walk with a lot of open space, which was great for Odin. If we needed to dart away from upcoming dogs to manage his reactivity, this area had plenty of space to do that.

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View from the Indian Beach Parking Lot

Our next stop in Ecola State Park was Indian Beach. This was a great place to stop and play. Since we had gotten there early, it was only us and the surfers. The parking lot was a great viewing point for the beach below and Submarine Rock.

Making our way down to the beach was fun. At the bottom of the path was a pile of driftwood logs which made a great parkour obstacle course for both myself and Odin. We spent about an hour walking up and down the beach. I had Odin, while my husband, Derek, drove his RC car alongside us. Odin usually does not like the RC car, however, I think he was enjoying the sights and sounds of the beach so much, he did not pay too much attention to the RC car. This was with the exception of when I tried to drive it. If it was me driving, it became the devil incarnate and Odin needed to kill it and banish is back to the depths of hell. But as soon as the controller was back in Derek’s hands, the RC car was no longer a threat. I think he may have been making a comment about my driving skills…

Odin was very curious about the surfers. He has never seen a surfboard let alone a person wearing a wetsuit that covered them from head to toe. He would tilt his head with curiosity whenever we passed them on the beach or he saw them out in the shallow waters.

When we headed back to leave, Derek went ahead of us to check the trail and the parking lot for other dogs before we brought Odin up. The trail was single lane and the parking lot was up above the beach which made visibility difficult. Derek made it to the top, checked for other dogs and gave us the all clear. We were really lucky on our timing at Indian Beach, as we were leaving (Odin was already in the car), 5 other dogs entered the parking lot and were headed to the beach. Overall, we had a great experience at Ecola, however, I think we were lucky in how empty the park was. During peak visitor hours and seasons, this park is probably packed with people and dogs. The park has a lot of parking space and overflow parking, so I assume they expect to get a lot of visitors. I would be skeptical about bringing your reactive dog during peak season or times. If you do want to bring your dog, I suggest getting to the park early.

Cannon Beach was just short drive from Ecola, and as it is an iconic beach we wanted to stop there. It was very packed and there were a lot of dogs. Within a handful of minutes of getting onto the beach. Odin started showing signs of reactivity. He barked at one dog and one lady with hiking sticks so we fled the beach to avoid a larger reaction. This is a very popular beach. I do NOT recommend this beach for reactive or nervous dogs. On a Tuesday morning, it was packed. I cannot imagine what that beach is like during the summer on a weekend.

Next on our itinerary was Oswald State Park, however, we decided to pass on the park because of the large number of cars and dogs in the main parking lot. Staying at the park would not have been a good choice for Odin.

A “hot” spot I wanted to hit up was Four Paws on the Beach, a pet boutique store, in Manzanita. I had read about the store in an article about dog friendly things to do on the Oregon Coast. I love going to pet boutiques to find unique pet products. We picked up a new West Paw toy for Odin, a border collie magnet for our fridge, and a dog themed sweatshirt for me. The store was really cute and had a wide variety of products. Odin got spoiled with treats and love from the cashier.

The boutique was next to a Mexican restaurant so we decided to stop and order some lunch to go. Manzanita is a very dog friendly town and there were many dogs on the main drag of the downtown. Ordering our food to go and eating somewhere else made it easier to avoid other dogs while we were eating (Hey look! I’m following my own advice! Strategy #3 Avoid the hassle and order in). We had wanted to eat lunch at a bench near the beach however, we were unable to find a spot to sit at so we ate in the car.

The spot we parked at had a great view of the beach and we were able to gauge whether or not we wanted to take Odin to play there. We had only seen a few dogs (about 3) go by while we were eating so we decided to take Odin down there to play. I hooked him into his GoPro Harness and grabbed his Frisbee and we were ready to rock-and-roll. Once we were on the beach, I unleashed him and pressed record on the GoPro. Odin took off ready to play some fetch. We threw the Frisbee around for a couple of minutes and once we had a handful of minutes of footage, I removed the harness and resumed throwing the Frisbee for him.

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GoPro Image

Another dog down the beach saw Odin running and playing fetch and wanted to join. He, a black labradoodle, came running towards Odin with his owners trailing behind him. Odin saw him approaching and immediately wanted to play. He came back to me and dropped the Frisbee and went to greet his new friend. They happily ran circles around us, playing what looked like the doggy version of tag. Both dogs started to get a little far from us, and I saw that Odin had noticed a tennis ball being thrown, as soon as I called his name he turned and did a beautiful recall back to me. He gave me a perfect front and sit while we waited for the labradoodle’s parents to leash him up. Once the labradoodle was far enough away, we resumed playing Frisbee for a couple more minutes, then it was time for us to head out. He did great at the beach and we all left feeling confident and successful.

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From Manzanita, we had an hour drive to our next stop, Cape Meares State Park. We were on the fence about visiting this park as we had already done a lot and Odin seemed tired. But we thought “What the heck! When is the next time we are going to be here?” and we decided to take the extra 40 minutes to go to the park. This ended up being a great decision. The park was very secluded and empty, once again we had it almost to ourselves.

We spent a lot of time venturing around the viewpoints, the Octopus Tree, and the lighthouse. Since there was no one around, Odin got a little rebellious and broke the no rock climbing rule.

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The park had magnificent views of the coast line. While we were heading back on one of the trails, a small off leash dog came prancing up. The owner made her way around the corner and Derek asked her if they could meet. She said yes, and we gave Odin the cue to “go say Hi”. Once again, this worked. He happily pulled towards the other dog, tail wagging. They said their hello’s and Odin pranced alongside me as we left the other dogs, extremely happy with his interaction.

Now we had a 1.5-hour drive to Newport. We had wanted to make one last stop for the day at the Devil’s Punchbowl, however is was dark by the time we drove past the park. Oh well, it had mediocre reviews. We are staying the night at the Hallmark Resort in Newport. We were very excited to find a doggy goody bag in the room. It had a doggy water bottle, a Frisbee, and a bag of treats. This was a really thoughtful touch. The hotel overlooks the ocean and has beach access which we will utilize in the morning. For dinner, we are ordering in again. It’s just easier than trying to find somewhere that allows dogs and we are hungry and it’s almost 7 pm. Looks like I am following my own advice again about eating in (Strategy #3: Avoid the hassle and order in). That’s twice in one day. It must be good advice!

Today was a great day with Odin. 99% of the interactions with other dogs were great and he had an amazing day. Here’s to many more days like this one!

 

 

 

Reactive Road Trip: Day 5 Update – Fort Stevens State Park and Astoria

Bright eyed and bushy tailed, we left Portland towards our next adventure, Fort Stevens State Park. The park is located a handful of miles outside of Astoria and would be a great way to spend the day. Fort Stevens was once the primary military defense installation in the three-fort, Harbor Defense System at the mouth of the Columbia River and is now preserved as a state park. I head read online that the park was a very popular tourist spot during the summer and experienced less crowds during the winter.

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We almost had the whole park to ourselves. It was nice not really needing to be constantly on the lookout for other dogs and could focus all of our efforts on having a good time and enjoying the park. The park was very dog friendly and we could bring Odin everywhere. We ventured in and out of the remains of the fort and its numerous batteries. 

While walking around the fort, we found ourselves on a path that paralleled the fence line of the local neighborhood. One of the house had a chain link fence and two very excited dogs that barked at Odin as we passed. Although we were a good distance away from them, I was proud of Odin’s ability to play the “Engage Disengage” game on his own. He would look at the dogs along the fence line, then look back at me expecting his treat. I was very happy seeing him offer this behavior instead of needing me to ask for it.

In addition to the fort, the state park is also home to Battery Russell. This place was super creepy. We did not bring a flashlight so we used the weak light of our phones flash light to light up the rooms and hallways. There was a ton of graffiti scratched and drawn onto the walls which enhanced the eeriness of the place. It almost reminded me of the Blair Witch Project or something similar. After a good ten minutes of exploring the place, we noped out of there before we could become the plot of a scary movie.

The park also had a handful of turnouts that provided access to the pacific ocean. We stopped at 3 out of the 4 turnouts and explored the lookouts and beaches they gave access to.

From there we headed out of the State Park and back towards Astoria to check into the Cannery Pier Hotel. The hotel is situated on a pier with and excellent view of the Astoria-Megler Bridge which spans the Columbia River. From our room we were able to watch large ships pass in and out of the river.

 

After unpacking our bags and changing Odin into his favorite Marvel bandana, we hopped back into the car to explore Astoria. The first stop on our list was the Astoria column. As we circled the column in our car, we saw there were a handful of dogs in front of the column and playing fetch on the grass across the way. We parked as far away from the dogs and we could and took turns going up to the top of the column so someone could be with Odin in the car at any given time. By the time both of us had finished with the column, all of the dogs had left and we were able to bring Odin out for some pictures and sniffing time. The views from the top of the hill were amazing and provided a great 360 degree view of the area.

Next, we attempted to see the house used while filming The Goonies, however the street had a sign posted asking tourists to refrain from visiting the house or the street it was situated on. We respected their wishes and headed downtown with an hour of time left to explore. We walked along the streets and everything was going well. We saw two dogs and we were able to manage his reactivity and pass the other dogs with no signs of stress. However, while turning around a corner, we were surprised by a dog (large and also reactive) and Odin threw a large reactive fit. We found a closed storefront to hide in and used a pillar to block the other dog from his view while we calmed him down. This is when we decided it was best to find the restaurant to order our to go food and head back to the hotel. While we were waiting for our food order (we ended up ordering food from Fort George Brewery; the food was excellent and traveled well), a dog approached from around the corner of the restaurant. Odin and I bolted away from the oncoming dog to the backside of the restaurant, and unfortunately we encountered another dog there. This was a reactivity fail. With two dogs on either side of him, he was inconsolable and barked/lunged at both dogs. Once both dogs had passed us, I worked on resetting Odin while my husband went to grab our to go order. Once we were leaving the restaurant, a lady on crutches walked by and Odin decided that this was not okay and that she was a major threat to our safety. Fortunately for us, from there the rest of the walk back to the car was uneventful.

Sometimes I wish there was a rhyme or reason to his reactivity. Sometimes, people with walking sticks are fine, other times they are not. Some dogs he cares about, others he has no feelings towards. Overall, today we had a great day and it was only near the end that his reactivity could not be managed. Since we started training and working on his reactivity, it has gotten significantly better and we are seeing great improvement, however, we still have a long road ahead of us in terms of completely managing his reactivity. I’m happy to say that he must have greatly enjoyed his day because he is currently passed out on our hotel floor at the foot of the bed.

Reactive Road Trip: Day 4 Update in Portland

Today was a no-travel day and we wanted to spend the day venturing around Portland. We headed into the city at around 10 am ready to do some walking. We parked in the Downtown and headed towards the water. I stopped to grab a coffee at a nearby Starbucks and left Odin outside with my husband. While waiting for my coffee, I notice out of the window that another dog is approaching Odin. As the owner made a point of bringing over his dog to say “Hi”, my husband told Odin to “go say Hi” and all went well. Odin and the other dog interacted without issue. This was a great way to start off our day. Odin saw that he might be able to meet some of the dogs he sees and this will sometimes reduce the frustration he experiences when he sees other dogs. Most of the time, Odin becomes reactive because he is frustrated that he cannot play with or meet the other dogs he sees. Another theory I have in regards to his reactivity is that he does not know if the approaching dog is a friend or foe and assumes everyone is a foe until he is told otherwise. By using the “go say Hi” cue, we are informing him that the dog is a friend and he can go meet them. Regardless of what causes his reactivity, we are learning that the “go say Hi” cue is a good tool to have when we know that the other owner is okay with the dogs meeting.

From Starbucks with a skinny mocha in hand, we head towards to water. Once we get there, we notice that there are a lot of dogs, bikes, and geese on the waterfront path. We decided that it will be best to avoid the pathway and instead walk along the city street that runs parallel to the water. From there we are able to observe other dogs across the street and Odin does fine. He plays the engage-disengage game with me and does not seemed bothered by the dogs across the way. We continue walking following the water until we reach Oak street and turn back towards the city in search for VooDoo Doughnuts. VooDoo ended up have waaayyy too long of a line so we noped out of there and headed to our next destination, Patagonia.

img_3244Patagonia provided a great training opportunity for Odin. Dogs are allowed inside and Odin came in with me and we practiced heeling and focusing on me rather than the clothing and other people in the store. We practice tricks and greeting people who wanted to say “Hi”. One of the workers in the store came over with treats in hand and asked Odin to perform a handful of commands (which he did perfectly). Overall, I was very impressed with him and his composure inside of Patagonia. I even overhead a couple of customers commenting on how well behaved and trained he was. This always makes me feel very happy as a lot of times I feel that people only get to see the reactive side of Odin in public rather than the well behaved, focused boy that I know and see every day. It makes me feel very proud that he is my dog.

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From there we headed off towards a location that we knew had a handful of food trucks. On the way, we passed by multiple dogs (all were on the other side of the street or intersections) and Odin did great. No reactivity or signs of stress. He was doing great and feeling very confident. We found the trucks and a great place to call home-base while my husband and I took turns grabbing food. Odin was very happy with this spot because he got spoiled with food. One of the vendors brought him some lamb to try which he enjoyed after earning it by performing a handful of tricks.

The food trucks were only a handful of blocks away from Pioneer Square so we were going to make that our last stop in the city. Once there, we took a handful of pictures and that was when I should have realized Odin’s change in demeanor. He was tired and not focusing as well. We stayed a couple of minutes too long taking pictures and that was when another dog came into the picture. The other dog was halfway across the square, but that meant nothing to Odin. He was tired, cranky, and went straight to being reactive upon seeing the other dog. We rushed him out of the square, however the owner and the dog were going in the same direction. We finally found somewhere to hide and get the dog out of Odin’s view. It took a while to calm him down enough to try to leave the square. This was my fault. We were out for too long and he was too tired. We had spent 2.5 hours in the city and I did not consider that he could be mentally tired. It usually takes so much to tire him out that I did not realize how mentally tiring this excursion had been for him.

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Although the day ended on a sour note, he still did wonderfully for 99% of the day. I was impressed with his behavior and we had a really great day. We explored a lot and got to see and smell so many new things. I learned a valuable lesson today and in the future, I am going to make sure that I do not extend his outings for too long and consider his mental stamina.

Since he had such an eventful day, he passed out asleep in his crate when we got home. My husband and I took this opportunity to venture out on our own. We ended up going to the Oregon Zoo (highly recommend) while Odin was safe in his crate, dreaming about the wonderful adventure he had.

Reactive Road Trip: Day 3 Update and 3 Strategies For Eating Out

Today was a short driving day (only 2.5 hours total from Eugene to Portland) so we had plenty of time to stop and explore both Silver Falls State Park and the Oregon Gardens in Silverton Oregon.

Silver Falls State Park would be a great place to visit without a dog. The park has 8.7 miles of trails that pass by and through 10 waterfalls. When planning the trip, I misunderstood the dog rules and didn’t realize how limited the dog friendly areas were. However, since we were there we made the best of it (and it gave us more time to spend at the Oregon Garden later). There were 2 waterfall viewpoints that were dog friendly and one dog friendly trail that led to a waterfall. We stopped at both viewpoints and although there were a couple of dogs, we were able to successfully avoid them. We made our way to the trailhead of the only dog friendly waterfall trail and watched the trailhead for a couple of minutes to ensure that no dogs were going in a head of us as the trail was an up-and-back trail (we planned on turning back if we encountered any other dogs). We made it to the waterfall without seeing any other dogs and stopped to take pictures. When we turned to leave, we saw another border collie heading towards us. The path was very narrow and there was not going to be enough room for us to successfully pass or avoid the oncoming dog. I sent my husband up ahead to talk with the other dog owner. Sometimes we are able to avoid Odin’s reactivity if he thinks he is going to play with the other dog. My husband got the okay from the other dog owner for them to meet and gave the signal that we could head over. I looked at Odin and put on my most excited facial expressions and said “let’s go say hi!” “Go say Hi” is a cue I use with him at the dog park which means to go interact with the other dog. Sometimes he is too ball/Frisbee focused, he forgets that he is there to play with the other dogs and needs to be reminded. This idea worked like a charm. Odin got very excited and relaxed and pulled towards the other dog. The nicely met and sniffed each other; Odin even tried to initiate play. Once we were ready, we continued on our way back to the trailhead. After a couple of minutes, I noticed two off leash dogs up ahead and the owner did not make any attempt to leash them. I looked down at Odin, fingers crossed that this would work a second time. “Go say Hi!” I tell him and he pulled towards the oncoming dogs and greeted them nicely. Both of these experiences were the best we have ever had with him and other dogs on trails. I do not recommend trying this with your dog unless you know they will not attack the other dogs. I always have a backup plan of picking up Odin (it reduces his reactivity) if he showed any minor signs of becoming reactive.

Oregon Gardens would be a great place to hit up any time of the year, however, I personally think going during the winter months is best for reactive dogs. Yes, not all the flowers are in bloom, however the scenery overall was absolutely gorgeous. The Oregon Garden is an 80-acre botanical garden in Silverton (a small city outside of Salem). There were multiple different garden areas that were extremely fun to explore. There was a conifer garden, a sensory garden, rose garden, etc… and a pet-friendly garden which educated people on pet safe and toxic plants. Going during the winter we were expecting there to be less visitors than during the summer months. What we didn’t expect was to be the only people there with a dog! Overall, we only ran into about 3 different groups of people, so this was the perfect place to leisurely explore. We went into their children’s garden which has fun play equipment and tunnels that Odin enjoyed going in. He posed on a butterfly styled bench. He sniffed and smelled every plant he wanted to for however long he wanted. We spent 2 hours wandering around the massive park. Once we were back in the car, Odin instantly passed out showing us that the trip was a success! Tiring out a border collie is no small feat.

We had a 1 hour drive from the gardens to our Airbnb rental in Portland. We decided on an Airbnb as we know there may be more dogs out in the city and it would be nice to have a place we could take and leave Odin. If there are too many dogs in Portland, we can bring Odin back to the Airbnb while we can head back out to explore the city. We settled on an Airbnb with a large backyard so we can play frisbee with Odin to ensure he gets the necessary physical activity on these days. The house was great and the backyard provided us ample room to play frisbee. Since it has been colder in Oregon than we expected, we decided on leaving Odin crated at the Airbnb so we could grab a quick bite to eat and not have to eat outside.

Eating has been a major challenge for us this trip and I am happy to say it is not because of Odin’s reactivity. It has been rather cold in Oregon (around 40 degrees) and sitting outside is not ideal for us. For the first two nights, we ordered in and enjoyed our food in the hotel. Tonight, we decided on leaving him behind (he is fully crate trained) so we could enjoy the ambiance of eating in a restaurant in Portland.

Below are 3 strategies I have developed from first-hand experience eating out with a reactive dog.

1. Eat during off hours

Avoiding prime eating times will greatly reduce your chances of running into other dogs at restaurants. Most people eat lunch between 11 am – 2 pm and dinner between 5 pm -7 pm. Opt for a meal outside of these times to avoid the crowds.

2. Do not choose a restaurant that has a dog menu

A surefire way to determine that a restaurant gets a lot of dog traffic is if they have a dog menu. This means that they are very pet friendly and have a high amount of four legged customers. Try to choose restaurants that allow dogs but are not focused around dogs.

3. Skip the hassle and order in

Overall, this is my favorite option and it gives me an excuse to choose nice hotels with great views and a balcony. Sometimes, it is just not worth the hassle to bring out dog out to dinner. Order a pizza or from a local restaurant that you want to try. Most places will deliver to a hotel. Also, this way you get to enjoy a nice meal with you best four legged friend. So far this trip, we have ordered in twice and we are planning on doing it for the rest of the trip. We pack our own lunches, which reduces the hassle and cost of eating out, and enjoy our dinners on our hotel balconies.

Another option is to leave your dog crated wherever you are staying, however, I know for most fur-parents is the least desirable option. I choose to do this only on very few occasions and ensure that we are staying in a safe area and will not be gone for too long.

As the parent of a reactive dog, it can sometimes be hard to move away from doing things that normal dog owners get to do. However, doing things a little different can be fun. Going to a restaurant during the off hours means you avoid the lunch/dinner rush and can linger longer without the pressure of crowds. Eating in your hotel means that you can utilize the views that you are paying for. Look for the positives that come out of challenging situations. Sometimes we get too focused on the negatives and forget that being a little different than the rest of the crowd can create new and fun adventures.

 

 

 

Reactive Road Trip: Day 2 Update and Following My Own Advice

After checking out of the awesome Railroad Park Resort (each cabin is a caboose. it’s awesome), we headed towards Mount Shasta.

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We were hoping that by heading out early (7:am) on a Friday morning (when most people would be working), that we would not run into too many people on the mountain. We stopped at the Sand Flat Winter Trail and prepared Odin for the snow. The trailhead we stopped at had a small turnout and we were happy to find that there were no other cars or people around. This meant that our chances of running into another dog were slim to none. Odin, attached to a 20’ leash, frolicked happily through the snow. Sniffing every discoloration and eating any loose snow. He had a blast at the spot and we hiked out about a quarter of a mile. It was nice having the trail to ourselves and not having to worry too much about other people. In this instance Tip # 2 (Avoid the Crowds) from yesterday’s post proved to work well for us! We left early on a weekday and avoided the crowds.

Next we were onto Eugene where Tip #3 and #4 would come in handy. After 3.5 hours in the car, we were ready to stretch our legs as we approached Mount Pisgah outside of Eugene. We had planned to hike to the summit of the mountain using Trail #1 to avoid the crowds as AllTrails.com said the trail was lightly trafficked. After waiting 10 minutes in the parking lot, we quickly learned that that this was not the case. The trail was highly trafficked and we saw 6 dogs enter the trail during our ten-minute wait in the parking lot. This was not the trail for Odin and it would not be a successful hike for him. We scratched that idea and decided to venture into the Arboretum next door which was less traveled and trafficked. This proved to be a great idea as there were very few dogs and lots of space to move to if there was an upcoming dog. There were multiple paths and loops to explore. Each loop had different plants and trees that were native to the area. Odin even saw and tried to chase a small snake that was on the path in front of us! As we spent significantly less time Arboretum than we had planned for the summit hike, we had extra time to do another hike on our list! From there we headed off towards Spencer’s Butte.

Sometimes it can be disappointing to not be able to do something you had planned due to unforeseen circumstances. Yes, I would have liked to hiked to the summit of Mount Pisgah, but, the Arboretum was a surprisingly fun alternative and it was something we otherwise would not have done. Being flexible with your itinerary is very valuable when it comes to traveling with a reactive dog. Spending time with Odin and my husband are the most important part of the trip, so changing the itinerary does not bother me very much. The best memories you will remember are built upon laughter and spending time with loved ones, not on the sites and views your see.

Spencer Butte was an interesting place. After having trouble finding the entrance to the park, we noticed there were more dogs than we had anticipated. We decided to risk it and if there were too many dogs or if the trail was not well suited for a reactive dog then we would turn around and go back the car (Tip #3). We when came up on the loop trailhead we saw that each direction heading to the Butte’s summit were labeled. To enter the loop from the left, it was labeled as difficult. If you entered from the right, it was labeled as easy. We decided to take the difficult route to the summit because I thought we would encounter less dogs on the “difficult” trail and “how difficult could it really be?” VERY, VERY DIFFICULT is the answer. Yes, there were no other dogs on the trail, but that was because you were ascending the summit at a very steep climb and some climbing up rocks was necessary. Lucky for us, Odin is part mountain goat and climbed gracefully and easily over any rocky obstacle.

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Once at the top, we needed to be careful. There was already one dog up there and there were two more on their way up. We hid behind rocks and ledges to keep the other dogs at of Odin’s view and once we knew we had a clear shot to the easy trail to finish the loop, we took it. Going down was fairly easy and Odin was very well behaved while passing other hikers. We encountered one other dog on the trail who was coming head on. We were able to move up the hillside to try and put distance between Odin and the upcoming dog, however, it was an unsuccessful pass. Odin become reactive while the other dog passed and I needed to pick him up in order to calm him down. The hikers commented on how cute Odin was in my arms and called him a “poor baby” as they passed by. They were very understanding about the reactivity and did not show any negativity towards Odin and his behavior. The rest of the hike was uneventful and Odin was completely pooped when we got back to the car. He even slept for part of the drive to the hotel.

Tonight, we are staying at a dog friendly Travelodge in Eugene and are relaxing and reminiscing over what a good day we had while scarfing down pizza and kibbles. Hopefully tomorrow is another great day.

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