Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Off Days

I often hear people talk about how dogs are not robots and they can have off days. That's true (although if a dog has a lot of off days, the dog might not be suited to be a service dog). I think the important thing as a service dog handler is how we deal with those off days.

Today Isaac had an off day. I had a doctor appointment first thing this morning and as I was stepping onto the scale to be weighed, he tried to sneak a sniff of the medical assistant's feet. He doesn't do that often, but it happens occasionally. What was different about today, though, is that he did not leave it immediately when I told him to. 

I stopped everything to deal with my dog. When I first got Isaac, I would have felt rushed by the MA waiting for me to get on the scale and felt like I should put off dealing with my dog and just get the weigh in over with. But I've since decided I have to deal with dog issues right away. So I put him in a down stay, while the MA was saying "Oh, it's OK, I don't mind, he smells my dog," etc. Once he was lying down, I got on the scale.

And then he got up before I told him to. He never does that. I was getting concerned, but the rest of the appointment went OK. Had he continued to sniff and not follow commands fully, I would have rescheduled the appointment and left.

When I got back home, I had some cleaning to do. He was whiny and kept asking for attention while I was cleaning, which is not really like him. I had planned to run some errands later on, but decided not to since he was clearly having an off day.

 I don't know why he was having an off day. He does this sometimes when he hasn't had enough exercise but he's had lots of exercise the last few days. He has a minor ear infection, so maybe his ears are bothering him. I don't know. But I decided not to take him on any errands since he was indicating he would have trouble behaving. Instead, we went for a long walk.

If I hadn't been able to put off my errands until tomorrow, I would have left him at home. And if he still seems off tomorrow, I think we'll go see the vet to make sure his ear infection hasn't gotten worse. He can't tell me when he doesn't feel well or needs a day off, except with his behavior. It's up to me to pay attention to that and make sure his needs are being met.

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