Because you know 65’F in mid February in New England is totally typical. So the creepy crawlers are out with a vengeance. That said besides the ticks, it is a lovely day to hang with the crew in the yard
Because you know 65’F in mid February in New England is totally typical. So the creepy crawlers are out with a vengeance. That said besides the ticks, it is a lovely day to hang with the crew in the yard
agility, competition, coping skills, Dog Behavior, Dog Training, Dogs, handling skills, impulse control, intelligence of the dog, leash walking, obedience, perspective, philosophical, play, progressive training, puppies, relationship, safety, thinking ahead, thoughts, training humans
The other day during a lesson with a long time client who has a new puppy she asked me, so when do we start teaching The Basics and how long will they take?
I looked at her blankly. The Basics? As she’d said The Basics with capital letters, as if what we were already doing wasn’t The Basics.
“You know, the six basic commands…sit, down, stay, come….”
Oh. (Though I can’t for the life of me figure out what the sixth one might be. Sit, down, come, stay, heel and what? Stand maybe? But how many people outside of the competition world really use a formal stand cue?)
When I think about the education I want my puppy or new to me dog to have I have an entirely different list I’d call The Basics. My Basics revolve around a dog learning to navigate the human world they are in as safely, comfortably and confidently as possible. Sure sometimes obedience cues may be involved, but they aren’t a key component or feature even.
Here are The Basics I strive to teach. As once these Basics are solid teaching those more formal cues is most often a walk in the park as the foundations are now in place. I take The Basics very seriously for the dogs in my life and spend a tremendous amount of energy, time, care and thought into teaching them.
1. Humans will help you. When in doubt, find a human and ask for help. You don’t need to take care of problems alone.
2. Humans are safe. We might be a little slow to understand sometimes, and we make mistakes, but we are safe and can be trusted. If we do something you don’t understand, it’s ok to forgive us and know it wasn’t done maliciously.
3. Humans will keep you safe. No matter where or what’s around. You can go anywhere and be anywhere and know I will do everything I am able to keep you safe.
4. Humans are trustworthy. I will not lie to you. I will not set you up to fail. You can trust me to help you, to be safe, to keep you safe, to be honest, to be accountable, to be who you need me to be. You can trust that if I ask you to do something, you can do it.
5. Body awareness. Know where your body is in space, how to move it in different ways in different places. How to control your body at various speeds and directions, and on different surfaces and objects. Understand your body in relation to other beings, bodies and objects. Learn what your body can and cannot comfortably and safely do. I use this Basic when teaching sit, down, heel, stay, come among other skills.
6. Emotional control. How to go from 0 to 60, and from 60 to 0. Ie the learning and ability to be aware of and understand your arousal levels. With various stimulus and places. How to control yourself emotionally. When you are tired, excited, unsure, Etc. How high is too high. How to recognize that feeling. And coping skills for what to do safely to calm yourself and to handle your excitement or insecurities depending on context. I include in this learning to keep your mouth and paws to yourself when interacting with humans unless otherwise invited. And how to settle. I use this Basic later when teaching stay among other skills.
7. A default automatic leave it response. Assume that everything in an environment is not for you unless otherwise invited to engage with it. This includes: food, objects, other people, other animals. If you want to interact or engage with something either find a trusted human to include in the decision, or pretend what you want isn’t really there. This Basic also ties in heavily to Basic #1. I use this Basic when teaching leash walking, stay and come among other skills.
8. How to hold the need to void, despite needing to go, until taken to an appropriate place. Ie house breaking and toileting. Totally one of my Basics. Don’t pee in the house, don’t pee in my bed, don’t pee because it took me 15 seconds instead of 5 to get my coat on, don’t pee on the tunnel because a dog before you just did.
9. How to be relaxed when confined or restrained. In various ways, environments, contexts. Everything from grooming, to vet procedures, to car rides, to leash walking. From crates, to muzzles, to leashes, to harnesses, to hands.
10. How to be alone. Even if activity is around you.
11. How to play. With people. With safe other animals. By yourself. In different places. With different things. How to feel relaxed and safe enough to be vulnerable, silly, playful. In that how to confidently make mistakes, to confidently try, to take chances and risk.
I think those are my Basics in a nut shell. If my dog has learned those 11 things well, then teaching sit, down, stay, come, heel and the who knows what 6th are a breeze, along with so many other things I may ever wish to teach or do.
What do you consider are The Basics?
I think I need to consider renaming my Thursday night advanced class “Mechanics.” Or maybe “Laugh till you cry” as that seems to be what we do each week. Lol.
Last night, per the group’s request, we focused on teaching a number of tricks that built off of skills they already had in their tool box.
We laughed so hard. “Guys, stop a minute, MECHANICS!” As the humans contorted and twisted. We broke the movements down and wa-la the dogs got it.
By the end of the hour we had a group of circus dogs! Weaving through legs, circling canes, leaping over legs and through arms, crawling. It was a hoot and a blast. We all, humans and dogs alike, left smiling and happy.
I teach a cue to my dogs that means reach your head through the hole extended. Primarily I use this for putting leashes, collars, and harnesses on. Though it has proved useful if they need to wear an Elizabethan cone or muzzle for medical recovery. They are to shove their head through what ever opening I hold up. This is part of cooperative care for my dogs and I. As I do not reach toward the dog to put the gear on, if they aren’t willing to come toward it and place their head through the opening, I know we need to work on increasing their comfort with it before moving forward.
And it’s a really fun trick.
This morning Zora, Tom and I were playing around, being silly with their doughnut toy. And I thought “hmm, can Zora fit her nose in it?”
Yes, yes she can.
I play a lot of cue control games with toys. Working so they can interact with their toys in different ways based on which cue is given. “get it” to grab it with their mouths, “push it” to push it with their nose, “chin” to rest their chin on it, and so on. This is the first time we’ve had a toy that we could do “put you’re head in” and it was a fun addition to our games! Poor Tom though, his nose is way too big to fit in this toy! LOL
Today began day 1 of 2 of the pre-trial. The pre trial is essentially a normal agility trial. Similar to any weekend agility competition we might go to throughout the year. The only difference is the location, i.e. At the same venue as the championship event which begins on Thursday. The pre trial gives competitors a chance to acclimate to the arena, see how your dog does with the surface, and get a chance to get a feel for the equipment.
The pre trial today ran 2 rounds each of the touch n go, weavers and tunnelers classes. Tomorrow is 2 rounds each of hoopers, jumpers and chances.
The elite classes were huge! Each nearly or over 100 runs! So after we ran round one which was pretty quick and as the heights ran small to tall today, we had a good few hours before our next run.
I was pleased overall with both of our touch n go rounds. We earned a qualifying score in each round and first place in our jump height. so that was nice. To me it felt like we were running our usual speeds and way but my husband said oh no she was smoking it out there! And our YPS (yards per second) said that too! Which was exciting
Because I can’t seem to figure out of to embed YouTube videos using my iPad here is a link to our touch n go round 2 if you would like to see it: https://youtu.be/URonU6cDcCI
our weavers rounds were definitely slower. Round 1 the 3rd set of weaves she didn’t even realize they were there. When I walked it and saw they were a set of solid dark green poles I thought, “hmmm….” it was rather comical during our run. As she ran past the set she turned slightly and went “Hey! There are weave poles here!” And started to weave at pole 3 or 4. She had no clue previously that set of poles was there. Round 2 though she found them and weaved beautifully. Though on the first set in round 2 she popped out twice to sniff in the dirt. She came back quickly but that was a bit annoying, 2nd time through that set though she stayed focused and on task good girl. I know we qualified with another first place in weavers round 1. not sure on our score yet for round 2 as we left for the day before they posted the results
Video link to our round of weavers: https://youtu.be/hGk-Qbujc-c
I decided to scratch the 2 rounds of tunnelers. I was getting tired and starting to have sensory issues and there was no real reason for us the run those. Our touch n go and weavers runs gave me tons of useful data on how zora is running and doing in the arena. So instead we took the dogs to the back fields to play whiffle ball and go for a little off leash walk. Which was a nice way to end our day at the trial.
Tomorrow we are going to skip our morning runs at the pre trial day 2 and head back there in the early afternoon to run maybe chances and jumpers and then check in for the big event! I hear they have some awesome surprises in our check in bags this year. Can’t wait to find out what’s in store
I often find myself struggling with philosophical questions, and delving into explorations about how others through the ages have attempted to find answers or puzzle over them. A while back my reading travels took me to learn about Gretchen Rubin and read some of her books. The concepts of her Happiness Project intrigued me, so I’ve been mulling over elements of a project of my own.
I’ve done elements of happiness projects in past, my computer monitor is covered with life reminder sticky notes. Helping me remember various habits and thought processes I’d like to repeat to help me shift existing or old patterns.
Ms Rubin’s book got me thinking about it all much more formally though. So I’ve been thinking more concretely about what actions, behaviors, patterns, habits go in to my feeling happy, content, satisfied. There have been a number of things, and some of them are patterns, behaviors, habits I used to do yet have fallen out of practice. Usually because I think ‘I should be being more productive right now’ and discounting that what I’m doing right then that I find fulfilling and satisfying isn’t somehow productive.
Therefore lately I’ve been recreating some of my old habits in addition to working to create some brand new ones. One of which is the re-addition of Morning Time with the Dogs into my routine. I’m a morning person, and over the years have come to be incredibly possessive about my mornings. They are MINE! I like the quiet early time where I can go at my own pace and be in my own world at no one’s beck or call. As mornings are MINE adding in and re-creating practices I’ve found fulfilling for no other reason than they make me happy to my morning routine seems like the perfect space for them.
My morning routine always includes caring for the dogs, and includes our walk, but it also includes a lot of other things like emptying the dishwasher or making my daily to-do list or checking voice mails and emails. I go through my little routines, all while the dogs sit or follow me around wishing I’d engage with them. And I think, “I should stop this and go be with them…” then I go on with whatever I was doing like making the grocery list.
When Zora was little every morning I’d sit or lay on the floor with the dogs and we’d have unstructured morning us time. Where we played or I petted them and they got to tell me what we did and how we did it. Where we just were together for no reason other than we all wanted to be. And I loved it. They loved it. It was a great way to start my day.
Then Zora got older. And more able to self regulate. And not get into mischief in the morning. And I stopped doing it. This seems to be a pattern I’ve done with just about all puppies past. We have morning us time, we all love it, then as they no longer seem to ‘need’ it, I stop doing it. Despite that we all love it and it helps the day start off right.
I’m re-instituting Morning Us Time. I’ve decided we all still need it. The dishes and grocery list can wait. The dogs and I need unstructured us time. I’m loving it. The dogs are loving it. It is still a glorious way to start my day.
Every once in a while someone, like a taxi driver, or waitress or random person on the T will ask me, “Does he ever get to be just a dog?” Does Tom ever get to be just a dog?
That answer is both yes and no. And I guess depends on what you mean by “just a dog.”
Does he get to have play time? And social time? And family time? And lots of love and attention with his harness off? Yes. Quite often actually. Being a guide dog in public can be stressful, so I feel it’s not only important but critical to my guide dog’s overall well being to have time when he’s ‘not on the clock’ so to speak and can do doggie things like sniff and run and swim and get petted by my family. Tom has learned when his harness is on he needs to keep is focus on his guide work and ignore others except me, and when it’s off and I cue “ok go play” or “ok go visit” he is free to be social and do his own thing. To a degree.
The to a degree is the no portion of the answer because even when he’s off the clock there are some rules Tom is asked to follow that maybe other people don’t have for their dogs. Like he’s not permitted to take food from other people unless I specifically cue him that it’s ok to do so, if they tell him it’s ok to take it but I haven’t he isn’t allowed to take it. And he’s not permitted to take food off the floor if someone drops it, or if someone calls him over to ‘help clean up the floor’ he isn’t to listen to them. And if I’ve asked him not to cross a boundary, like at my aunt’s lake house when we arrive before I take his leash off I remind him he’s not allowed to go up the stairs that lead off the deck, he’s not to go there even if another person tells him it’s ok. Basically the ‘no’ portion of Tom having time to be just a dog involves him ignoring other people telling him to do things and remembering what I asked him to do or not do even if someone else is telling him something contrary. And it involves his behavior around food.
The other part of that is even when he’s off the clock, Tom prefers to keep an eye on me himself. For example last night we were at a family gathering at the lake house. Tom and Zora came too, and were off leash roaming around the deck area with us all. Being social, swimming, getting petted, visiting with people and the like. But anytime I moved, Tom checked where I was and where I was going. When I was in the lake, he wanted to know where I was. When I came out, he wanted to know where I was. If I changed seats he wanted to know where I was. He checks in with me, gets a bit of a pet, and then goes wandering off to socialize with others once more. And when he’s done with socializing, he comes and finds me.
So yes, Tom gets to be just a dog. A civilized dog with healthy boundaries, but time to be just a dog all the same.
Whether you live with a chronic condition that causes fatigue as I do or you are exhausted after a busy day at work, your dog still needs exercise. Many people think exercise the dog = walk the dog. Well when you’re exhausted and walking the dog means making your tired brain and body move off the couch, yea don’t know about you but not likely.
I spend a lot of my time on the couch, sitting in a chair or leaning against a wall, tree or fence. And have come up with lots of ways to exercise my dogs from those stations. Now this doesn’t mean I don’t also get my dogs out in the world, I do. I go for a walk with them nearly every day. But for many dogs (mine included) that isn’t enough. And when I have days where I can’t get out, these types of things are my go-to.
So here we go: 10 Ways to exercise your dog when you’re exhausted!
Oh how I love hide and seek and all of its near endless variations!
Version 1: If my husband is home or my nieces and nephews are visiting hide and seek means I sit on the couch, they hide. They call the dog, dog finds them. I call the dog back to me, the hider hides in a new spot. Over and over. Until dog is bright happy eyes and panting exhausted. If the hider gets creative there are lots of ways they can hide even in a small area. Some favorites are in the bathtub, behind an open door, on the bed, in the closet, and hidden in plain sight by quietly standing up against a wall in a dark room. Zora especially Loves loves loves this game. We use praise, treats, and petting to reward her, and practice her staying with the person until the other person calls her, not just racing back and forth. This waiting until called gives the hider a chance to really hide.
Version 2: if your dog has a favorite toy, instead of hiding a person you can hide their toy. If your able to get off the couch, hide the toy in various places in your house and send the dog to find them. Practice your dog doing a sit or down stay while you hide the toy and finding it when you cue “Find It.” If you can’t get off the couch, hide them in various spots on the couch. Under different cushions and such.
Version 3: the good old shell game using treats. Hide a treat under one hand, dog has to indicate which hand has the treat. Or under a blanket. Or couch cushion. Or if they’re handy under actual cups.
2. Kibble toss
A fun easy game that can be played at meal times if you feed your dog dry dog food. Or at other times using a couple of treats.
Version 1: Call the dog to,you praise them then throw a piece of kibble across the room. After dog chases and eats the treat or kibble you tossed, call them back to you and repeat. Dog races back and forth across the room and gets tired
Version 2: add some obedience into the game. Ask dog to sit or down then stay as you toss the kibble. Then release the dog to go get it. Or ask the dog to stay, toss the kibble then ask the dog to do another behavior (sit, down, touch, come) before releasing them to go get the food.
3. Fetch with a toy
Simple. Take a toy your dog likes and play fetch in the house or outside leaning against the fence. Zora prefers super bouncy chuck it balls for this game. They fly off the walls making for a fun erratic game of fetch. Though be careful you don’t take the tv out if your a bad thrower as I am. Practice your dog bringing the toy all the way back to you and dropping it in your hand or on your lap so you don’t have to bend your aching body down fighting gravity to pick the toy up. If you and your dog are up for it, add in some obedience. Or multiple toys. Teach your dog to sit or down stay and wait for you to cue ‘Get it’ once you’ve thrown the toy. Or teach your dog to get the toy you point to, even if you’ve thrown 2 or more, in the order you point to the toy.
If you have the hand and arm strength and a bit of upper body energy play tug from your spot on the couch. Practicing your drop it and grab it cues.
My dogs and I do so many stupid tricks from the couch. Get creative, make shit up. Let’s see we play E.T phone home (nose touch to the tip of my finger), we play back up, we play crawl, and lots of targeting games. They play running from place to place in the house, on your bed, now on the couch, now back to your bed, now in the kitchen, now on the rug! They practice jumping over my legs. And crawling under my arms. We place shark avoidance (I take the fish toy and sing the JAWS theme, the dogs practice abandoning ship! aka jumping off the couch and “saving” me from the shark aka taking the toy and shaking it.) And I never have to move. Tossing treats or toys to reward.
6. Learning toys by name
Where’s your fish? No that’s not the fish, find the fish. Yay! That’s the fish! Now how about your ball? Yay! Now blue ball, where is blue ball? Close, that’s red ball.
and so on. My dogs love that game too. And again I never leave the couch.
7. Scatter kibble
An easy one. Take your dog’s meal and toss it on the floor. Either in the house or in the back yard. Let the dog snuffle around finding their dinner kibble by kibble as you rest.
8. Puzzle toys
Make or invest in some puzzle toys. Some that involve you too and some that your dog can play alone. There are so many different ones on the market now, it’s awesome. Lots of styles to choose from. Get some variety, so you and your dog have different ways to solve the puzzles.
If you’re making puzzle toys cardboard boxes can be your friend (hide treats in different boxes, or within within within boxes or wrapped in paper bags, etc). As can pvc (drill some holes in a large diameter pvc tube, put some treats in and cap the ends, Dog bangs it around to get the treats to fall out. Or get some lengths of PVC and different connectors, hide a treat in the maze of twist and turns, dog has to pull the pieces apart at the connectors to find the treat.). And empty soda bottles. Or muffin tins (take a muffin tin, put some treats in the wells then cover each well with a tennis ball. Dog has to remove the balls to get the treats). Basically anything you can create that your dog has to think and puzzle through in order to get their food or toy out of it.
Other ways to make puzzles for your dog can be making mazes or labyrinths out of boxes or couch pillows.
9. Arm chair agility
Use actual agility obstacles or create them out of things like chairs and pillows. Use treats and toys to encourage your dog up and over while you stay stationary. Note of caution if your dog is not an experienced agility dog, always use a spotter especially with the higher obstacles like the dog walk and teeter totter. And be sure if doing any jumping your dog is on safe surfaces like grass or carpet not concrete or hard wood floors
10. Arm chair obedience
Practice your dog’s response to cues. Try just verbal cues such as saying ‘sit’, ‘down’, ‘stay’, etc. And just hand signals. Practices puppy push ups: sit, down, sit, down, down, down, sit. Add in the cue to stand. Or stay. Or come. Or fetch. Or touch. Mix it up. Practice your dog responding to the cue you give without anticipating what you’re going to ask them to do.
Remember when doing these things with your dog, the goal is fun, happy and tired. So smile, laugh, and enjoy your time with your dog. Help your dog engage both their brain and their body. Playing these games can be super fun with your dog and low energy expenditure for you. A tired happy dog is so nice to live with.
It’s a lovely day for some Pie! What better way to celebrate a snow storming Pi Day than with Lemon Meringue? None that I can think of. Isn’t math awesome?!
And what better way to celebrate a snow storm than out with the dogs? Also none that I can think of!
Zora would like me to hurry up and throw the ball as Tom tries his best dalmatian impression. Zora loves the snow. Tom tolerates it. Usually he stands there turning white following me around the yard looking pitiful. He enjoys our snow woods walks slightly more, that is until his feet get cold. Tom has high tolerances for most things, except cold feet. He hates cold feet. Can’t say I blame him. And good luck asking him to walk when they’ve salted the sidewalks, it’s just not worth it. Tom’s favorite thing about snow days? Getting toweled dry once we come back inside. He demands it.
He’d make a pretty cute dalmatian, right?
And the throwing of the balls. Wally the doodle is super fluffy and very cute. He seems to like my Holee Roller! Zora says she’s sticking with her Jolly Ball, thank you very much.
Wally is visiting with us while his mum is on holiday. We’re working on his ability to resist grabbing the corgi when she’s running to me. He needs a lot of practice with that. Yesterday we made good progress with it, him coming to me running beside Zora instead of fixating on her trying to grab her scruff. This morning he forgot what we practice yesterday, and needed help to make good choices. He has though figured out that my dogs won’t chase him when he has the toy (which he laments, he really really wants someone to chase him when he has the toy). Instead Zora just lies watching him patiently waiting until he gets bored or distracted and drops it. Then she swoops in, grabbing the prize. Tom could really care less about what Wally does as long as it doesn’t involve bothering him. Nuff said.
Not to be left out, the ducks are glad it’s not quite so cold out anymore. They don’t mind the snow as much as when it goes below freezing. As it did here a number of days this past week. This morning they were thrilled I brought them a head of lettuce to enjoy. Happy Duckies! Then again their eggs did make my delicious Pi Day celebration possible. Thank you Ducks!
Ted belongs to one of my clients. I love Ted. And his owners love Ted. They care immensely about him. They are good people.
When I first met Ted he was around 8 or 10months old and already having a lot of problems.
Primarily it boiled down a lot to Ted wanted to be a dog. A really doggie dog dog. Like run the woods, muck in the swamp, roll in dead stuff, chew bones, walk on the floor, chase balls, doggie dog dog.
And Ted’s owners wanted Ted to be the shih tzu they’ve always had. For decades. The shih tzu who likes to be brushed and picked up and petted and snuggled upon and be that quintessential lap dog they’ve had. Dog after dog. For decades.
Which Ted is not. Ted wants to be a german shepherd I think. Or maybe a doberman. Yea probably a doberman, something that doesn’t need much grooming. And that people think twice about before they get all lovey dovey fru fru in your face with.
Ted has always wanted to be a doggie dog dog. But also didn’t really know how to be that, since he’d not really had much opportunity to. So he was/is pretty socially weird. As my husband says, “Ted is the bug eyed micro wookie” and yea, I think that pretty well sums up Ted in a nut shell.
So that’s a little about Ted’s back story.
Ted’s owners took lessons and classes with me, but for a long time were still pretty stuck on the ‘we really want Ted to be more like the shih tzu we imagine. If we’d wanted a german shepherd, we would have gotten a german shepherd.’ When I stoppped teaching though I didn’t want to stop seeing Ted. Also, by then Ted trusted me enough to let me touch him and wash gunk out of his face, which after being kicked out of 3 grooming salons for his poor behavior was no small feat. And his owners were struggling to find someone else who would take the time Ted needed to build trust the way he needed.
So Ted’s owners and I agreed, I’d continue to see Ted. And ever since Ted spends usually at least 2 days a week here. He loves his ‘school’ days. And his owners have really come on board with Ted’s need to be a doggie dog dog over the past year. Makes me so happy. Like they now see Ted’s shaved down utilitarian hair cut as cute and adorable. Which is good because, Ted is so much happier with short fur and it’s the only cut I’m willing to give him (since Ted and I have a deal: I only do stuff that makes him feel better. Short hair cut makes him feel better. So shaved down short hair cut it is). And they have embraced that if Ted doesn’t get to go run in the woods, and walk for miles, and muck about twice a week he is miserable to live with. So they make sure he gets here twice a week. His vet report notes even now mention things about how much easier he is to treat and handle and how much he now tolerates, Ted used to get vet reports that included how many people it took to hold him down and how much they tried to sedate him with. Which is really good, because when you are a bug eyed micro wookie who wants to spend his life running around outside, you apparently end up with allergies and eye issues.
But that’s not what this story about Ted today is.
Today’s Ted story is: Ted now plays with other dogs!!!! I mean like happy, socially appropriate run and chase and be silly play!!
This has taken a year. Ok, well Ted is now 3 so really it’s taken 3 years. But it has taken a year of consistent 2+ times a week social interactions and trust building with the dogs he regularly is with here for him to decide it was safe to really let his inner awesome fun dog out to play with the other dogs.
Up to this point, Ted’s version of ‘play’ was really all about control. Making other dogs start or stop doing things. There was always an element of fear and mistrust in it for him. The humans always always had to be cognizant and aware of Ted’s mental state when other dogs were playing. Up to this point, Ted liked the other dogs enough to snuggle up and take naps with. Or to chew toys lying next to. But more than that, anything movement related he’d either avoid or try to control.
Now, this has now happened multiple times over the past couple of weeks, Ted is having fun with play! Chasing with Rock-It for example without trying to control her, chasing with her for the joy of it. Reciprocating play bows to then race around the deck with Zora. Smiling, happy, relaxed playing Ted is awesome! It makes me so happy to see!
When I think about what triggered his final turn around when it came to the other dogs, I think a situation between him and Zora that happened sometime last month was part of the catalyst to change. Last month, Zora was chewing on a bone Ted apparently wanted. So he decided to try going after her and ‘biting’ her to get her to give it to him. I put ‘biting’ in quotes because remember Ted is a shih tzu. He has a very smushed in face. And his attempt was to ‘bite’ Zora’s side. So because he’s a shih tzu with a pushed in face, all that resulted was him smashing his face into Zora’s side a couple of times, his ‘bite’ not actually doing anything. To which Zora looked at him puzzled, then looked at me puzzled, “What on earth is he doing??” A couple of angry face smashes without the desired result, Ted stopped, looked at me, looked at Zora and went, “Why isn’t this working? That’s weird. Doesn’t she know I’m fierce and ferocious and a threat? Why isn’t anyone upset by this? Hmmm” then he walked away. (I was right there less than a foot away this entire time. Had anything escalated further or Zora seemed upset in any way I would have of course interrupted and created safety and boundaries. The above all played out in less than probably 30 seconds)
I think maybe that gave him all something to think about. Maybe it was the last piece of the puzzle he needed to decide it was worth the risk to see if dogs really were safe and friendly to let loose and play with. Maybe Zora and I not getting upset at his attempt at an ‘attack’ helped him embrace that no one here is a threat. I don’t know. I don’t know what goes on in that mind of his. I do know that shortly after that incident, Ted’s attitude toward the other dogs relaxed a lot and really started to shift. And now he plays. Even with rambunctious goofy Labradors like my friend’s dog Rock-It.
How ever he came to it, I’m so glad he’s decided play with the other dogs is worth it. I love seeing Ted so happy and free. Makes me happy.