As we left “The Country Puppy Comes To Town Part 1“, we had stopped for a drink, and he had carried his water dish around for a while, and then we started down main street. Captain Jack was prancing with his head up high when he suddenly stopped in front of a store in mid-prance. He literally just stopped, then he backed up and barked, just a little. A cute little quiet tough bark. Standing to the left of a store doorway was the biggest, (well, to him it was the biggest) two foot tall, concrete lion. He was fixated. He didn’t like it. He moved up, he backed up. He moved up slowly, he backed up quickly, he gave a little bark, he moved up, he backed up quickly. It was all very cute, but not funny. Well, it was actually pretty funny.
It didn’t seem like he was going to work this one out on his own in a timely manner. Jack could get even more scared if anything else had happened out there, like a loud truck, horn or someone going by really fast or really big. Since this was a place we would pass often in his future, and he needed to be safe there, I intervened. I threw a treat down on the ground right in front of him, he liked that, ate it and looked at me for more. I obliged this time a foot in front of him. He took a step, ate the treat, looked at me and waited. I saw that he was moving into his learning mind and out of his scared mind. From then on I would wait for him to look at the statue and then to me. When he did, I threw another treat in front of him. Soon I had the clicker going and within a few minutes Jack was eating treats off the lion’s hand and nose and having a drink with him. I may have let him work it out for himself if we were somewhere more quiet or private, but seeing I had no control of the environment, I didn’t want it to become worse. It’s so important to try to control your environment when working with your puppies and dogs. Of course, it doesn’t always work out because you are in public areas, but if you have a plan, a program and an escape route set up in advance, you can avoid some obstacles along the way.
Jack stayed there with his new best friend, “the lion”. He had some snacks, a drink, a few cuddles and we were off again. Just on the other side of the door was the other “biggest lion” in town. Jack pranced by it without a notice and continued on his walk. Now when he walks down that street he doesn’t even stop to say hello to his old friend, he just walks down the street like the “Brave Man Dude” that he is.
Later that week Jack went to his first art fair. It was at a lakefront park and it was a little windy. There were colorful booths and lots of people and loud music and Jack was a little stressed. Not a lot, just a little, but not being able to control our environment, we took the escape route. We revised our plan and one human spent time with Jack away from the crowds and the music while the other ones shopped and got food. We made sure he was calm and safe and we strolled around the perimeter of the action so he could stay relaxed. He was with his favorite peeps, eating his favorite snacks and he was comfortable 100 feet away from the chaos. As we were leaving we brought the brave Captain over to meet up with the rest of his “family of friends”. We brought him to one of the booths that had a back exit and he was so brave helping his mom pick out a dress. It was a great lesson in keeping him below his stress threshold and a slow beginning into his more advanced socialization skills.
The puppy went to a few art fairs his first month here and except for the few surprises of blowing flags and shaky booths he was great. His favorite part still is meeting all the different people, getting treats from some of them and hearing how cute he is. He loves that part.