Today we spent several hours in a new park. We meant to be alone, but there was an entire classroom of motherly-abled kids there, having lunch and playing on the equipment.
Spider really wanted to talk to the kids but I didn’t feel like wrestling with him and trying to control the kids at the same time so I explained that he liked kids so much that he wanted to jump on them, knock them down, and kiss them all over their faces. Kids were VERY respectful and didn’t try to approach, which gave us lots of opportunity to wander around near the group. Spider got a pretty good body-wave going (it’s not enough to wag his tail when there are kids around) but did an excellent job of maintaining his loose leash. He’s got a good handle on the idea that when he feels the leash start to tighten, he should turn back to me to get a treat. I need to teach him other things about those situations, but if that’s all he ever knew about them, that would be GREAT. Most of the time he’s not HITTING the end of the leash, he’s just being drawn inexorably away from me until he feels it.
There was one kid in a wheelchair who let out a scream every minute or two. The screaming and the wheelchair not only didn’t bother Spider, they didn’t even register as unusual. Kids running toward him (not close) and then running away was unusual, but looked fun, not scary.
One of things I want him to know is that he can look at interesting things and still keep the leash loose, so I started clicking and rewarding him when he was looking at the kids.
Since he’s doing so well with the leash, I did some work on not shoving a treat in his face every time he looked at me. That was a little annoying and he barked at me a couple of times, but he soon realized that he could wander around sniffing things, eating twigs and fallen leaves, and searching for remnants of kid lunches.
We explored the playground equipment. It’s an interesting park with spinny things and swingy things and balance things – perfect for parkour. We’ll be back with our new iPad tripod! In the meantime, he walked or jumped or climbed on or under each piece of equipment. Nothing bothers this puppy. He’s brave and interested and sensible.
Finally we were trained out so Barb and I sat down to chat. An owl flew over about 6′ over our heads. Spider watched it, and then watched a plane go over. I’ve never had a Portie watch planes, but most of my Giants did.
And finally something “bothered” him. While we were sitting there doing nothing, several groups of runners went by, including an entire high school class. He watched the class with interest, but when a guy on a skateboard came up over a hill, he stood up and started working on his big-boy voice. He wasn’t scared, he was just telling the guy that we had assumed ownership of that section of the park and he should keep that in mind. Pup was SO funny! In mid-macho, I stuck a wiener in his face and he almost got whiplash spinning around to face me, sit, and make eye contact. Apparently machoness disappears in the face of a wiener!
And now we’re home and I have to post his blasted ears back up. Thank goodness Ron got us staples to make the post so I don’t have to sew them together any more!