...We're talking about Alfie's respect for Katharine, which needed a little shoring up. He's always tested her more than the rest of the family, possibly because she's the youngest and he thinks he might just get away with it! We started off earlier by putting her in charge of his meals (including the obedience routine he does before each meal). This helped him tune in to her, but I could tell more work would be good. So Michelle decided to have us meet her at the mall for a training walk...only this time, Katharine would be walking Mr. Alphini! As Katharine put it, "I feel like an underage driver!"
Although Katharine's pretty familiar with the whole puppy-walking drill, it's different to be the one actually holding the leash. Michelle gave her a few helpful tips and they were off. I mainly bit my tongue (the urge to shout out random things to your puppy like, "No, leave it, in, steady, watch me!" are surprisingly deeply ingrained)...and avoided making eye contact with him. Katharine needed to be in charge, and Alfie needed to get his information from her. At first he kept glancing over his shoulder at me, like, "Hellooo back there, help me, is this OKAY?!" ...but with Michelle's coaching, Katharine coaxed his attention back to her. They did surprisingly well!
Hmm, think she'll let me cruise over and check out the food court?
And below, 5 seconds of gripping action footage! Grab your popcorn!
You could tell they were both tense, not in an antagonistic way, but just because they were unused to communicating on this level. We walked and walked...at one point, to give them a break, I took over the leash and they both got a little breather. There was a train in the mall -- first time we'd seen that!
Alfie: Are trains allowed in here?
Train guy: Are dogs allowed in here?
Katharine worked Alfie some more...taking a break and putting him in a down every so often. It was very cool for me to see Alfie do so well with her...following her commands, "checking in" with her, and wagging that tail like crazy when she praised him.
Aaahh, a well-earned break.
At the end of one full tour around the mall, Alfie was more exhausted than if he'd walked several miles with me. Such a good mental workout for him! Katharine is committed to ongoing obedience mini-sessions with him outside the home, which should help keep him tuned in to her. Relationships are always better the more you work on them, don't you think?
Katharine's pretty fun!