This morning Ron and I went to play mini golf and left Syn and Spider in their crates in the truck in the shade with the windows open. Didn’t hear a peep from them, so he’s got the idea of being quiet in a crate in a vehicle, not just when it’s moving. Good to know.
On the way back we got them some soft ice cream. Not sure he’s purebred. He’s a dainty little tongue-dipper. Syn kept looking at him like “hurry up! Are you stupid? You can eat the styrofoam dish too, you know!”. I’m sure he’ll figure out how to eat a gallon in one bite when he grows up.
Then back to the trailer for a nap and then for a walk in the (slightly above freezing) forest where we sat down on a log and ran through our Level 1 behaviours – Sit (mostly on cue), Down (on hand lure), Zen (he recognized the Zen hand first thing and stayed away), and Target (is he starting to see the difference between a Target hand and a Zen hand? Yes, I think he is).
With half his lunch left to go, we started working more on eye contact. I had both hands where he could see them so it took a few minutes for him to stop flicking his eyes from hand to hand and glance up. Yes! It was a slow start. I couldn’t help but think of Syn, who had eye contact in the litter box. While all the other pups were squealing ME! ME! PICK ME!, Syn was quietly following me with a firm grip on my eyes. Still, by the time we were done, he was mostly coming back to my eyes right away. I thought I might get some duration towards the end but… nope. Not yet. OK, I can wait.
Then a lovely mostly-loose-leash walk back to the trailer. He jumped after a dragonfly, but otherwise was only pleased to see children and adults and bikes and cars. Lumps of grass and fire pits were more of a distraction, but he got lots of treats and we managed. Dear little tat.
In the evening when it was cool we went for another walk. We worked on walking on a loose leash. I gave him a LOT of treats for keeping the leash loose, and more for thinking about tightening it but realizing that might mean treats so coming back to me instead. We found a volleyball game FULL of kids that was especially fun as they kept knocking the ball out of bounds and chasing it. He only tightened the lead a couple of times and came right back when he felt it tighten. When he walked out to the end of it and stood like a European show dog watching the game, I let him look as long as he wanted to. What a gorgeous puppy!
More kids on bikes, lots of shouting and whooping from the volleyball game, the smell of cooking burgers, hot dogs, and s’mores. We walked by a smaller dog tied on a long line, yapping its fool head off. The owner apologized, saying “she’s only a year old, she doesn’t know any better. Not like your big guy! How old is he?”
Snicker. He looked at the screaming mop for a second, then turned back to me and sat for his treat.
I was planning on doing some shaping on the walk, but when I found a picnic table to it down at, he climbed up on it so we did a bit of Relax work on his side (which was harder than usual because I had a chunk of wiener on the table by his head). Then I took him down to start shaping but he remembered this morning’s work on eye contact and was doing such a good job that I stuck with that until we walked on.
All week the hardest part of our walks has been coming back to the trailer. He wants to rush to get back to Ron and Syn. Tonight he walked three steps forward, stopped and looked back, got a treat, walked three steps forward, stopped and got a treat. It was beautiful.
Good night little man.