Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"PeteyLEAVEIT"

...That's his new name.  Or at least, that's probably what people thought at Town Lake yesterday!

Petey, big black German Shepherd, and I are standing in front of a low stone wall; he's in his work jacket; the water of Town Lake is behind us and the Austin skyline in the background
Petey and I take on the hike and bike trail...watch out folks...

I'd been warned that my biggest challenge with Petey would be on walks.  At an immature 7 months, he still reacts instinctively to moving objects and it's up to me to anticipate these temptations and be proactive so I don't wind up at the end of a broken leash.  My thought was that for our first walk, I needed to take him somewhere with lots of distractions so I could figure out just what I was dealing with.  At the same time, we needed to be away from traffic.  So the Zilker hike and bike trail, winding along by Town Lake, was perfect. Loaded down with joggers, baby strollers, dogs, birds, and squirrels, it was sensory overload for the Petester. 

The outcome?  Pretty much exactly as I'd been told.  Petey has a great "watch me" and responds well to "leave it," just as long as you use those cues before he gets engaged in whatever's distracting him.  If you'd been behind us, I'm sure you would've thought me a bit obsessive with the PeteyLEAVEITs, but it seemed to work.  We successfully negotiated a big party with balloons bobbing in the wind...joggers...even flocks of pigeons clattering away at our approach!  Our proudest moment was when we calmly passed a little boy and his dad feeding crumbs to a flock of rowdy ducks, geese, and swans.  Hooray!!

a beautiful white swan and brown duck swimming; the water reflects the blue sky above
We DIDN'T chase these tempting birds...

Our most embarrassing moments?  Pretty much every time another dog came within fifty feet of us!  Petey would tense up and let loose with a volley of barking...sigh!  German Shepherds have a reputation for being vocal, and he's no exception.  It's something he has to stop as a guide dog, that's for sure!  The sad thing is, the barking gave everyone the impression that he was a wild beast of some sort, not the goofy guy he really is.  In fact, even when he was behaving perfectly, people gave him a wide berth! 

closeup of Petey's face as he sits in front of some greenery along the path; he is leaning forward, pink tongue lolling out, and he is staring intensely at something

I can't help it that I look so intimidating...

After lots of obedience work and many LEAVE ITs, we finally succeeded in passing another dog without barking...a big victory for us, and a nice note to end on.   You better believe he got a lot of treats and praise for that!

Petey sitting in the grass at home, looking up happily, head cocked to one side
I'm really trying my best, honest!

6 comments:

Lisa, Ellie and Hosta said...

HA HA - I'm impressed you could remember Petey's name. When we switch, I am constantly calling the new sittee my dog's name! Good job ending on a positive note. Those distractions were HARD.

Becky said...

Sounds like quite an adventure to have a dog switch and agree with Lisa would probably be using the wrong name. I still sometimes catch myself calling Cricket, Pantera.

Sarah and Vance said...

Good job though! Sticking with his training and then ending on a positive note. Give him time and I'm sure he will do great :)

Mimi and CC Cabana said...

You're brave to tackle a hard walk first! You sound like you've got your hands full with Petey. Oh my!!

1000 Goldens said...

Great job Petey, we're so proud if you :)

Ruby's Raiser said...

Yep, we feel ya! Other dogs are our biggest challenge. Looks like you made some nice progress together!