Sunday, August 17, 2014

Leia Goes to the Dog Park

This weekend I took Leia out to the dog park so she could stretch her legs and run around a bit.

She had a good time on Saturday and a mostly-good time on Sunday, marred just a teeny bit by an overly rambunctious and slightly rude pit mix who bowled her over and bullied her a while (then his owner intervened and he moved on to bowling over other young dogs. Not an aggressive dog, just an over-enthusiastic adolescent and maaaybe a bit of a bully -- he stood down and backed off quickly when Pongu and Crooky told him "lol nope," but if dogs were less assertive then he'd push them around).

This is from Saturday when Leia made some new friends:

And video:

Overall Leia seemed to really enjoy playing with the other dogs. She was completely socially appropriate with other canines: played enthusiastically with receptive dogs, left the uninterested dogs alone, participated in numerous role reversals (switching quickly from chasing to being chased and back), and was all in all an A+ dog park dog on that front.

She was less appropriate with the people in the park, but that's not too surprising as we're starting to creep into the Sad Temporary Dog Phase.

Like most of my foster dogs, Leia is extremely people-oriented, and right now there's a void in her life because she does not have a person to bond with. I've made it very clear that I am not and will never be her person. So Leia is sad, because she wants someone to love her and she doesn't have anyone who loves her right now. As a result of this, she spends a lot of time in the dog park making cute faces at everybody sitting on the benches, snuggling up to them, theatrically rolling on her back to invite tummy rubs, etc. Most of the people she hassles are charmed by this behavior (if they didn't like dogs, they wouldn't be in the park), but I'm never especially excited to see one of the foster dogs doing that stuff, especially since Leia tends to ask for attention by jumping on people and I am not a huge fan of that. I've pretty much extinguished the behavior as to me, but of course everybody at the park reinforces it, so... bleeeeeh.

The good news is that all this stuff tends to solve itself once the foster dog has a Person to focus on (my own dogs never pay attention to anyone else in the park -- Crooky peed on a poor unususpecting lady today and Pongu gave a bunch of dirty looks to people who tried to pet him; that's the extent of how much they care about random strangers); the bad news is that I can't really get rid of it until then.

On the training front, we have loose-leash walking pretty solid and she's graduated to walking regularly on a flat buckle collar, except when I'm walking the entire mob of dogs simultaneously. Leia is good at focusing solo, not so good in a crowd.

She does still need occasional click-and-treat reinforcement for good behavior on daily walks, but we had a breakthrough a couple of days ago and it's going much faster now. Her adopters should be prepared to continue reinforcing her on walks for a few weeks so she learns to pay attention to them too, and then I think she ought to be pretty okay with occasional surprise jackpots to keep things fresh. Ignoring critters is beyond her focus level right now, but she's little, so that can either be trained as a longer-term project or just managed, depending on the environment and the owner's goals.

We haven't worked on anything new since my last update, mostly because I've been spending a lot of time writing and not a lot of time on dog training this past week, and most of the time I did spend on training things was with Pongu. So, welp.

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