This behavior drove me crazy this morning! You may be thinking, “What behavior? I see two dogs calmly resting in the grass. How lovely.” Well, it’s what happened BEFORE this picture that was pushing my buttons. We had just come back from our morning walk and play time in the park and I was looking forward to having more coffee and some breakfast, no big deal. We arrive at our front yard, I close our front gate and let the dogs off leash as we move toward the house. The next thing I normally do is head to our side yard to rinse off my dog’s feet, before heading into the house for breakfast. This is our daily routine, every day, at least 6 days a week. But not today! It was a warm morning and we were at the park later and longer than usual. Vivi, my standard poodle, enjoyed lounging in the cool, wet grass while I visited with friends, the dogs were tired, it was a good day. Or so I thought….
As I moved toward our “cleaning station,” Vivi stopped dead in her tracks and just looked at me. I called her again, completely in vain. What the heck? She knew what I wanted her to do, how could she not? So I walked toward her to guide her into the yard and then it was “game on.” She started leaping around me, running back and forth, frolicking in the yard. I’m sure she was laughing at me in her head, while playing a great game of “catch me if you can, but you can’t!!” Ugh, I wasn’t in the mood for this, all I wanted was more coffee!
My dog trainer brain had to click into gear before I wanted it to. I had been noticing over the past few days, that every time I called Vivi into the house, she wasn’t so excited about it, she would respond, but begrudgingly. Then I realized that in the past week, we had been enjoying more summer days and nights outside, spending more time in the yard, just hanging with our dogs. Every time Vivi was coming in the house, she felt play time was over, this was not good news for her. Today, she was trying to tell me that she wanted to hang outside for a longer period of time. This was fine with me, but I wanted her in the back yard, not the front yard. I had treats on me, and her favorite ball, which she would normally follow anywhere. I thought I could just show her that I had the goods and she would follow suit into the other yard. But no, not happening; the frolicking continued, and my frustration was growing. So I took pause, and took my own advice – take a deep breath, calm down, and try something different.
I played a quick game of fast sits with her. As soon as she responded to my cue to sit, I cheered her on, tossed a treat up in the air for her to catch, and celebrated as if we had just reached the summit of a tall mountain. The fun was working, the game progressed into fast sits, then collar grabs, where Vivi had to move with me to get her treat and return to play. We quickly made it into the back yard, where I wanted her in the first place. This whole exercise took me 3 treats, 3 minutes, a whole lot of enthusiasm….and success! That’s when I took this picture of the dogs lazily resting in the grass.
Vivi keeps me on my toes, she keeps me accountable for those deposits into our emotional bank account. We needed to have more fun together, more play. I had been making too many withdrawals from our bank account by ending the fun and not providing another rewardable moment for my girl, who is a serious gammer. As I finished writing this, Vivi finished lounging in the yard, came over to me, and is waiting for me to wash her feet so we can go inside and get some breakfast.