I've shared before how much Alfie likes his work, and he does. But the whole truth is, he likes part of his work...the active part! He loves commands like "let's go!", "find the...", "steady," "heel," and "watch me." He likes getting out and going places, and he loves walking...walking...walking...you get the picture. But oh man, he does not like to lie still and wait. And guess what, Alf...that's a big part of being a guide dog!
So yesterday on our family trip to the library, instead of browsing for books as usual, I just had him find me a seat, and we practiced down/stay. The whole time. He was one unhappy camper! He did a nice "tuck in" (getting under my seat and out of the way)...
...but then spent the rest of his time undoing it with his jack-in-the-box impression. He'd sit up, I'd frown & give him the hand signal to "down"...he'd do it for about a minute...then sit up hopefully, as if to say, "Well, now can we do something fun?" I'd "down" him again, a couple of minutes would pass, and - pop! - up would come his furry face asking, "OK, how 'bout now?" Sigh...I could tell this was going to be a long lesson!
I also have a hunch that Alfie, being the assertive/dominant personality that he is (yep -- he looks like a teddy bear but looks would be deceiving!), is especially reluctant to keep a down/stay in public because it is such a submissive posture for a dog. He'd yawn, and snort, and pant, and show me in a ton of little doggy ways that he'd rather not do this. Those of you who know me...know that only strengthened my resolve!
All right Alfie...we'll be here just as long as it takes!
Well, he's far from perfect, but we did make progress! All in all, I felt it was a good day and made sure that Alfie knew I was happy when he did the right thing. After the kids checked out their books, I rewarded him for his patience by letting him find me some trash cans on the way out. That got his tail wagging!
...But the funniest thing to me was how he acted when we got home. He was completely zapped. Now, this is a puppy who can literally walk for miles, come home and play fetch, and never miss a beat. But that "down/stay" business exhausted him! He found a quiet corner, curled up, and was out like a light.
It's harder than you think! Really!