Yesterday I took Elsa to the harbor. I was not feeling well and thought that some sunshine might just help; it was also our alone walk day. Luke and I had a short walk at the park and then Elsa and I head out. When we arrived but before getting out of the car; I could see that there were a lot of dogs present, nice. I love when Elsa has a chance to do some on leash socializing and the dogs at the harbor tend to be a little more friendly than some places. So out we got and hit the path to say hi to some folks and dogs.
Notice her tail is up and she is comfortable enough to look around when standing right beside the beast.
Pulling into the harbor I had noticed an elephant statue that I hadn't seen before. Once we were on our walk and had rounded a corner we came across another one. These were new here; how new I didn't know. But I did know that Elsa was not going to like it. She'd been to this harbor many times and she had been where this elephant statue now stood. I knew it was coming so I was ready; and as I had anticipated she barked at the intruder...it just stood staring at her. It had big bug eyes and was frozen as most statues are. With the staring eyes and frozen posture Elsa alarm barked once again.
I immediately loosened my posture and approached it. I bent down and made like I was tying my shoe right beside the scary beast. The elephant stood on a platform that was about a foot high so I tossed a treat onto it. Elsa reached out as far as she could without getting any closer to grab the treat. I knocked on the side of the statue and read the plaque. These were from the Elephant Parade which aims to raise money to help Asian elephants. I wondered then how many dogs had alarmed at this elephants presence.
Many dogs would not even notice this big elephant with it's staring bug eyes; but dogs who are very aware would. Elsa is dog that doesn't miss a thing so the large staring eyes got her attention immediately. As I tossed treats onto the platform she started to relax; but she was not going to let her guard down completely. After all this was a large ominous looking creature. She trusted it enough to stand beside it alone as I snapped a photo.
How you react to situations is all important to how your dog will react. Helping your dog means taking a "no big deal" stance on the situation. "We don't even care about these things," is how I like to put it. Keeping the leash loose, your body relaxed and voice calm; you will be able to convince your dog that this scary thing (whatever it is) is not scary at all. If Elsa would have been younger, needing more work with the elephant I would have stayed and sat there with it until she was good. But being that she has had a ton of work on these type of things we moved along on our walk quickly after a quick photo.
Never push, coax or cajole your dog into dealing with a scary situation. Instead give off the "we don't even care about these things" attitude and you'll be on your way much quicker.