Working Play Date

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Yesterday, Tanya called me to ask about a play-date with Glimmer at our local dog park.  She wanted to do some distraction work with Lacey, and since both the park and Glimmer are huge distractions for Lacey, she thought it would be a great place to work.  Glimmer needed some play time outside, too, so I agreed to the date.

When I arrived to pick them up and Lacey saw us, she began whining with excitement. She was very happy to see me and Glimmer, and I have to confess I was happy to see her, too. Despite the issues she has, she has a pretty big piece of my heart.  We made a quick stop at the store to pick up some water, and while Tanya was inside, Lacey was looking out the window and whining. This was a new behavior from her; she never used to do that.  When Tanya returned, Lacey stopped whining, and we headed for the dog park.

Glimmer’s work was started at the gate. She had to go into a sit and wait to be invited through the gate.  Three times, she broke position when I opened the gate.  Each time, I put her back into the sit position and asked her to wait to be invited.  On the fourth repetition, she held the position and waited to be invited. Once inside the gate, she forgot herself and tried to pull ahead so she could smell everything.  Each time she did that, she was corrected and brought back into position.  She needed to understand that just because we were at her favorite place, that didn’t mean she could do what she wanted. Once she figured that out, we were good to go.

We chose the small-dog enclosure to work and play in because almost no one uses it.  We also chose it because both Glimmer and Lacey need work on their recall and the enclosure is a safe place to work that lesson.

Glimmer did a fantastic job working on the long lead.  We worked on loose-leash walking, sit, sit-stay, down, down-stay, heel, “here” (sit beside instead of in front), and heel. She also did a great job of ignoring Lacey when Tanya walked her past us.  The distraction lesson was repeated with Tanya putting Lacey in a down-stay position and having Glimmer and I walk past her.  We both did this exercise several times.

A lady came into the enclosure with her French Bulldog while we were working. Lacey immediately broke away from Tanya to greet and chase after the dog. Glimmer and I walked back to where I had her water, and to my tremendous surprise, she actually greeted the Frenchie.  She was confident and calm about it, and the Frenchie gave her the same respect. Lacey, however, tried greeting the dog with excitement, jumping at him and trying to initiate a game of chase with him.  He didn’t like that, but instead of biting at her to correct her, he calmly turned his back on her and totally ignored her.  He visited with Glimmer for a minute, and then he wandered around the enclosure. Lacey tried to jump him a few more times, but each time she tried, he turned his back on her and completely ignored her.

Glimmer did a fairly good job on her recall, but Lacey did not.  Tanya repeatedly called Lacey to her, but Lacey ignored her and tried coming to me instead. I asked Glimmer to ignore her by moving her away from Lacey so that Tanya could work on taking control of her. When Lacey tried to nip at Glimmer’s face and jump her, Glimmer deflected the nip by turning her face away and then she gave Lacey a low, warning growl. I did not correct the behavior, because Glimmer was standing up for herself for the first time in a very long time and I didn’t want to interfere with that. Lacey continued to show disrespect, but Tanya took control of her leash and pulled her away from Glimmer and me.

Glimmer really surprised me. She dealt with Lacey calmly but with confidence and assertiveness, she did excellent with her recall and loose-leash walking, and she even chose to introduce herself to another dog.  She does need work on her recall – I can’t walk her off-leash in the open area of the park just yet – and she does need more work on her walking position. But overall, she did much better than I expected, and by the time I released her from the exercise, she was a very tired, very happy dog.  I am definitely open to continuing working play dates with Lacey.

Have a great day, everyone, and remember to stay calm and lead on…

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