We tried something new a couple weeks ago…we went to a dog park.
Let me explain…
I have a friend who is a dog trainer. She also organizes a weekly occurring small dog play group. In the summer the dogs play off leash in a safe fenced in area of the off leash dog park. This is a great (secured) open space where puppies, or dogs with unreliable recall, or small dogs that don’t do well with an over zealous 70+ pound shepherd/lab/rotti/husky/what-have-you cross in their faces, or a dog like Wheaton, can do very well with off leash freedom & safe play!!
To be honest, at first I was very worried that Wheaton was going to still be a jerk when I took his leash off…even though other experiences had lead me to believe that his jerkiness is anxiety not aggression. As a human with anxiety, I get it, anxiety makes me an asshole too! I got your back there Wheatie Boy!!
Anyway, my friend was offering an “I’m an Asshole on my Leash” training session – No not the actual name of her training lesson but yes…basically this was what I needed so that I could help Wheaton with his issue. Well, our timing didn’t work out that day so we we missed the training but we did get there in time to join the play group. Of course, all the way across the open area of the dog park (on his leash) Wheaton was barking and freaking out….and I was just hoping and praying he wasn’t putting a big target on our backs as I just wanted to get across the field and get to the penned in area.
We made it, we went in the gate, the moment of truth……
I took off his leash. Off he went sniffing, calm and curious about these other little dogs. Daisy by his side.
This was success. This experience made me feel so happy for him! His first real play with a group of strange dogs and he did so well!! I was such a proud Momma!! Yes, he and Daisy were a bit aloof but that’s perfectly fine….not everyone needs to be a social butterfly!! 🙂
Nothing else mattered but this look…..this is the look of a happy Wheaton! I swear he is smiling. He is not intimidated, he is not afraid, he is not nervous or anxious or concerned about anything else but sniffin other dog butts and peeing on stuff…oh yeah, and, “if all these other humans have these little pouches around their waist like my Momma does…does that mean they ALL want to give me a treat!!??!”
Momma’s good boy!