Sunday, June 6, 2010

Dog parks, longe lines, and dogs making choices

It's Sunday morning, and Ellie and I go for our Meditation Walk. She settles in quickly, curious about her world of walkers, runners, birds, and the sounds of barking at the dog park that lies to west, beyond the ball field and tennis courts.

She's happy, tongue lolling, eye soft. She stops to let people by, with a doggie smile and containing her exuberance to her wagging tail.

Today I've brought my longe line, which we use for horses. My plan is to give her plenty of line, so she can more freely pursue her interests, and I can reward her for attention to me, and we can practice her recall away from home, working on distance. Her recall, offline and in the house and yard, is nearly 100%. I've got a few kinks to work out here, as she took off after some birds, and got too hard of a jerk back to the ground, but in general I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish. Time for the dog park.

As we got closer to the park, I saw there were about 7 dogs. Some she knows, some I had not seen before. She was her usual excited self as we made our way to the gates. I let her in to the ante-area, took off the leash, and the dogs rushed up to greet her through the fence. Two of the dogs were quite assertive, and then the other dogs arrived. Rather than just take her in, I decided to wait this out, to see what Ellie's choice would be. We've noticed that she gets overwhelmed with more than a few dogs, and we've noticed that she is uncomfortable around very assertive dogs.

After sniffing fence, sniffing noses, and making eye contact, she went to the gate - the gate to the outside, and waited. Pretty clear. I snapped on her leash, and we walked quietly home.

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