Fabulous day at the park

I had a hair appointment on the other side of town this afternoon. It was raining and overcast so I took him along. He lay quietly in the crate in the truck for the half-hour I was inside, then we went to the park again.

Things we worked on:

- walking on a loose leash. Brilliant. He remember the routine from last time - look around, enjoy the sights, check in, get a treat. The only tight leashes we had were towards goose poop.

- giving to collar pressure. A bit of latent learning happened there. He didn't appear to have a clue last time we worked on it, but today he's moving left and/or right with very little thought.

- goose poop. Since there's goose poop all around, there's no opportunity here for advance and retreat (as I mentioned before), so I just tightened the leash when he saw poop and waited for him. Staring at poop isn't at all rewarding, and he couldn't make me move closer to it, so this worked. It's a long block from where I park the truck to the edge of the lake where we meet and greet, and the same long block home again. The first block I stopped him maybe 10 times, waited for him to realize he wasn't getting any closer to it. Then he'd look back at me, get a treat, and we'd walk on. On the way back, though, he had the Plan. a) he stopped scanning for goose poop and looked instead for leaves and twigs, and b) when he did rest his eyes on poop, he sidestepped away from it and turned immediately to me for a treat. I think I stopped him once all the way back to the truck, though he got a full wiener's worth of treats for looking at me.

- eye contact. He's almost got the looking-in-my-direction part, and he's starting to think that my eyes are involved as well. Still scanning the horizon trying to figure out what I'm paying for for too long for me to insist on eye contact though. I'm out of practise with beautiful black eyes - Syn's eyes spoiled me because they're so easy to read:

Syn

- sit and down. He already knew Sit when he came, but he made good strides on sitting to a hand signal as well as a voice cue, and he's now understanding that standing up from a sit when I'm luring a down is counterproductive. He pops up nicely into a sit from a down on a hand signal.

- name recognition. Did a little more simple pairing of his name and a treat.

- distractions. Am I crazy? Is it possible that Spider won't HAVE any distractions in another couple of weeks? I suppose if that's true it'll change when he discovers girls, but for now, WOW. 15 feet from a dozen Canada geese, he's offering me focus. 5 feet from joggers he's offering me focus. The same 5 feet for teenagers on skateboards and little kids on bicycles. 10 feet from other dogs. 5 feet from running motorcycles. He looks at all this stuff and then he looks at me with a big grin on his face. Ha ha, can't fool me! He's amazing. Sometimes he doesn't even look, he just flicks his eyes over and then back.

- relax on his side. He had a little trouble with this today. He really wanted to wrestle with my hand, but he did relax, and I did lift his feet, examine his teeth, and play with his toenails.

- talking to people. That's going to need help from some trained people. He still thinks love bites on the chin are an appropriate way to greet people. For some reason some people don't like that. Still, he is just enthusiastic, he's not insane about greeting. In fact is not insane about anything. He's really very sensible. I guess I forgot that about Giant Schnauzers.

- when we got back to the truck, I opened the crate door and he tried to climb right in. It would've been super, except none of his feet were where he thought they were. He tried to get in twice, and then I picked him up and helped him. I'm sure by tomorrow he'll be able to retrieve the truck, never mind climbing into it.

What a fabulous outing. We are going to have so much fun together! And I've got the night off because he's going to be exhausted.

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And... he's not exhausted. Unfortunately, we are going to have either a real fight, or a serious Come To Jesus. He had such a good time grabbing Stitch's tail yesterday that he's continuing it. I just rescued it from him TUGGING on it. Sh won't hurt him too badly when she flips out on him. I hope he gives up immediately when he sees that she's serious. I don't want him to hurt her.

Because the little wretch wasn't appropriately exhausted, I chose tonight to introduce him to hard drugs. I know he's had soft stuff before, both at the breeder's and here - jeans, shirt sleeves, flirt toys, etc - but tonight I brought out the hard stuff. A tennis ball. It was a real experience watching his little pupils expand, his expression soften. The best part was that he was generous enough to want to share with me - he kept bringing it back close enough for me to take. Sometimes he'd lie down partway back and have a little personal time under the influence, but then he'd get up and offer it to me again. He even brought it back into the house with him when we came in. He can really handle the stuff - his mouth is so big it's hard to tell when he's under the influence and when he isn't. Two good things came of this evening - he should certainly be exhausted NOW, and he's going to sell me his soul for a fix for the rest of his life, he's well and truly hooked now.