Todays walk was a very water logged affair after the downpours through last evening and during the night. Ayla and Rossi thoroughly enjoyed running through massive puddles and jumping into the ditches full of water.
We are fortunate to have many different terrains on the heath, sandy beaches, gravel paths, gorse and heather, brambles and ferns, and throughout the year there are regular maintenance groups run by volunteers to help conserve the natural flora and fauna and all the lovely creatures and birds that live on it too.
Today we were blissfully unaware of anyone else being in our area and the dogs had run ahead to their favourite part of our walk where we regularly play games on a big expanse of sand. As I followed them and rounded the bend Rossi came running back to me with no ball in his mouth, closely followed by Ayla and as I walked a bit further I could see in amongst the trees were a group of volunteer workers having a coffee break, sitting in wheelbarrows, and leaning on spades and there were several wheelbarrows laying around across the area too and big piles of foliage and dead fir trees.
They both looked a little spooked and felt the need to show me that things were not quite 'as they normally were' in our playground and Rossi was concerned enough to drop his ball and not want to go back for it. I just continued walking and the two dogs were happy to follow me until we had passed the 'alien invaders' and then we had our usual game a bit further along the beach. I have to admit that the lady sat in the wheelbarrow looked quite strange to me too :)
I was reminded again about how 'dogs learn in pictures' and how from time to time things crop up in the normal view of their surroundings that cause them to act differently. Sometimes this can be a tree that has fallen down across the path, or a branch that has broken off and wasn't there the last time they walked there, or the balloons that we encountered a few months back. How we respond to their concerns will influence how they behave and making sure that they have the opportunity to move away from things that they perceive to be scary is a very important option to make available.
So next time you are out and about and your dog behaves differently or alerts you to something that seems strange to them, always take notice and help them overcome their uncertainty in a mindful and gentle way so they will have a positive memory to associate with that scenario in the future.