Today we went to the skateboard park. It was a good day for it – there were several boarders but only one at a time. The park is fairly large, so a full circuit takes several minutes. That means the pup can relax between flybys. Spider stood up the first time a board went by. The second and third time he watched from a down. By the fourth time he was mostly interested in being sure that I remembered to pay him for seeing skateboarders. No big deal. Even when one of them did something fancy and his board made a big slamming-to-the-concrete noise when it landed. No big deal.
We worked on Level 2 Communication Step 4 – dog untangles a leash from around a pole and from around the handler. That went well. He didn’t have much trouble figuring out what to do when the leash got tight as he tried to go the wrong way around a tree. It took longer than I expected for him to realize that the point wasn’t only that he learn how to fix the resulting problem when he went the wrong way around a tree but not to get into that situation in the first place. He did get it eventually (10 reps?) and after that he only made the mistake once or twice more.
Then we worked on getting him to understand that crossing my path without an invitation also results in problems. We left off with him being fairly easily able to fix the tangle problem but not yet understanding that crossing from left to right was what caused it in the first place. Good start.
We moved on to L2 Come Step 1 and 2 – dog comes 10′ and dog comes 10′ to get the leash put on. We’ve done so much work off leash on the farm – indeed, about the only time he gets the leash on is in the last part of a run when he’s done his share and it’s time for Syn to get her wind sprint in. I invite him into the Gator, put the leash on, and give him a treat. Then he lies on the floor watching with a snug leash while Syn runs. That means getting the leash snapped on only means time to rest and time for a treat – nothing bad.
Finally, we watched an old Mini Schnauzer get scared senseless and bowled over by a large black dog on a long line. The guy saw I had a Schnauzer too (we’re like the motorcycle clan, never miss an opportunity to talk Schnaut!) so came over. I held Spider on a snug leash and he was polite and friendly. The Mini enjoyed the opportunity to sniff and the guy said he was generally afraid of big dogs so he was happy too. I don’t think the guy saw The Paw come up but I did and I knocked Spider a little off balance with the leash before he could whap the little dog.
Spy did find something a little bit scary – finally. It was a Kleenex blowing around in a nook in the park. He didn’t avoid it, he went right up to it, but he dropped down a couple of inches into the “creeping up on scary things” stance. Once the wind wiggled a but of it and Spider flinched but kept right on approaching it. When he finally got to it and realized he’d been stalking a Kleenex, he stood up, tasted it, and moved on to more interesting things. Maybe a bit of a fear period to go with his newfound idea of the difference between Us and Them?
He did a little attention bark at some people walking by the park, but he redirected to me immediately as I thanked him for warning me of the “danger” and gave him a treat. It really was a nice little “look, people!” burf rather than the “ohmyGodohmyGodyoubetterstayaway!!” bark he tried out last week. This is perfect. I don’t want him unaware of what’s going on around him, but I want him to trust me enough to take my word for what’s really dangerous and what isn’t. Another perfect session.