Stare-down

Last night’s training session with Lacey and her forever-family took place at our local Pisces Pet Emporium store.  Lacey got her first harness last week, and her “heel” position while walking has improved dramatically.  The isles at the Pisces store are a bit more narrow than those at our local PetSmart, but Lacey still managed to maintain an almost perfect “heel” position. And when people asked to pet her, she did a really good job of going into a “sit” position and holding it while she was petted.  She did try a few times to get on her hind legs and put her front paws on people, but she figured out very quickly that she would only get affection if she was sitting nicely.  All in all, considering that it was her first time in that store, Lacey and her forever-family did a phenomenal job.

We did encounter a couple of dogs who were giving Lacey focused, direct eye contact.  Lacey started to return the stare, and her mom immediately redirected her attention by squeaking one of the many toys hanging on hooks.  Lacey loves squeaky toys, so it was easy to redirect her attention.

Then, a customer came by with two very large dogs, and he didn’t seem to have very good control of them. One of the dogs saw Lacey and came to a stop, giving her focused and direct eye contact, and tension in his body. I noticed the tension, but his owner didn’t. Instead, he was busy trying to get his other dog set up for a photo.  Lacey’s mom was looking at various items on the shelves, so she didn’t notice what was happening, either. Lacey doesn’t understand that her boldness could get her hurt; because his owner wasn’t paying attention, it would have taken only a split second for the other dog to attack her. So, to prevent trouble before it could start, I stepped in front of her and blocked her so she couldn’t return the stare. The other dog looked at me, I gave him direct eye contact and calm, assertive energy, and he walked away.

It’s hard to have your eyes everywhere at once, especially when working with a dominant puppy.  Sometimes, you really do need an extra set of eyes.  But these are things Lacey and her family are learning, and so far, they’re doing a pretty good job. With practice and time, they will become adept at being able to assess various situations as they occur.

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