Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Poodle vs. Tractor Supply Co

Perri and I went to the library for therapy dog detail tonight and followed that up with a short trip down the highway to Tractor Supply Co.  It was either that or Petco and I thought that TSC on a foggy weeknight would be a little more low key.  I didn't expect the "peeps" for sale and Perri would probably have given a toe for three minutes inside of that little baby chicken enclosure.  Meek and sensitive she is, but forever a chicken killer.

I didn't have any expectations and I kept it simple.  We hung around the store and I gave Perri soft praise and a charlee bear if she looked at me.  I figured out in about three cookies that a cookie throw along the floor was a lot more rewarding to her than just being given a treat.  Perri was interested in the peeps and she was worried about the store.  I filled my pocket with about 25 cookies and we stayed in the store until they were gone and then left.  It didn't take long.  There is no reason I can't work this into our weekly routine, here and there.

Perri relaxed into our little game and I did start to get more offered attention, but she was definitely highly absorbed in the environment, for multiple reasons.   I will be very interested to see how we move along through this.  I am surprised by how much I enjoy this.  Just studying my dog and watching her.  I was watching Perri tonight and thinking, "Look at her.  How on earth can I expect her to enjoy working with me when she is this overwhelmed?"
But it can improve.  And it will.  I'm in no hurry and I am looking forwards to future sessions.  Perri does enjoy working with me, I know that.  It's time to help her relax into that.

I did this with Molly last night at Petsmart and she progressed far quicker than Perri.  I brand Molly as my resident "Bad Girl", but it does make sense.  Molly is very food motivated, we have a longer standing relationship than Perri and I, and Molly is far less worried about everything.  She once smashed headlong into a trash can at an agility trial because she was too busy staring at the piece of cheese I was carrying.  This is not to say that Molly was glued to me the whole time at the store, but she definitely relaxed into what paid off much quicker.  One very cool moment was halfway through my pocket of cookies, Molly went to sniff a dog food bag (her favorite thing to do ever at the pet store.) but whipped her head back to me.  We even did a little bit of work and Molly was happy to play along.