Don't you wish you knew!
...but the main thing is, he's back!! On our very first post-swap walk together, Alfie was happy to work and we started off with the basics. Curb work, straight line, sit, down/stay were all great, as was his attention. If anything, those areas were better than ever. He seemed more grown-up, less distracted than I remembered from before.
With all that going well, I decided it was time for the big test and asked him to find a trash can. Immediately his head went up, sniffing and scanning, tail went up wagging, and he trotted off quite eagerly...but my heart sank as he led me PAST not 1, not 2, but 4 trash cans...and finally stopped in the customer service area (which had a seat, trash can, and a counter...all things he used to find...)and just looked at me with a puzzled expression. Oh dear! Well, at least he was trying, I told myself (which is apparently more than he did before!) With trial and error, he finally figured it out. This procedure replayed three more times as we v-e-r-y slowly found a couple more trash cans and a seat. Then, all of a sudden, it was as if something clicked. Alfie's old confidence came back and the rest of the afternoon he found everything on the first try as he'd done before.
Alfie gets a treat for "finding the girls" (ladies' room). He's sitting incorrectly - he shouldn't be at right angles with me like this - but I was so happy he found it I sorta forgot about correcting him, oops!
Today's walk was similar. When I asked him to find a trash can he sort of walked up near one but then circled around noncommittally, unsure of himself. Inside the store I asked for a seat and he led me past several before finally indicating one. But the rest of the afternoon went almost perfectly. One time in a shoe store he "found" me a seat stacked high with shoe boxes -- so he technically found the right thing, but I couldn't sit there because I didn't want to sit on top of a customer's shoes! The command for that situation is "sort it out"-- which basically means, "good job, you did it, but there's a better answer." He did "sort it out" perfectly, leading me to the very next seat and impressing the shopper whose shoes it was! Hooray for victories! He was especially happy to do all the bathroom finds, leading me confidently and quickly to each one. When he "found the sink" for me, there was a little girl there washing her hands with her mom's help and she said, "Oh look, Mom, that dog knows where the sink is!" Alfie knows when he's doing well and looked up at me all pleased with himself. Funny boy!
Alfie in a down/stay at the mirrored seat in the shoe store.
Michelle asked me to make a note of all this on his weekly report, as it will be important for his trainer to have on record when he eventually leaves us for advanced work. We may also try to arrange a couple of short swaps in the interim to see if the "on strike" behavior crops up again and if so, what's at the root of it. For right now, I'm just happy to see that he's back working happily and doing a great job of it. One day at a time!