One of my favorite dog trainer bloggers did a terrific blog recently on practicing saying “no” to folks who you don’t want petting your dog while out walking. The phrase “no, but thank you for asking,” is, indeed, a very good one to practice so you’re ready to use it as needed. As a dog walker, I use it often.
With Gracie, however, I’ve had a lot of practice with the opposite. As a budding therapy dog, meeting lots of people nicely is part of her practice, and I spend a lot of time responding to requests to pet her with “Yes, and thank you for asking.” (That “thank you for asking” is soooo important…good reminder to those who approach us. and so appreciated by those of us who walk dogs.) I usually follow the request to pet her with the cue Gracie knows: “Go say hello,” so Gracie knows it is okay to engage.
Gracie and that cute little face is an absolute magnet for folks. I can tell many feet away that people want to pet her. I can also identify, from a good distance away, those folks who do not want contact with her, and my challenge is continuing to teach Gracie that “leave it” applies to people as well as objects. Gracie simply cannot believe that ANYONE could possibly bypass the opportunity to interact with her, and as we walk past, nicely, she will look back for many steps, checking to see if by some chance, I got it wrong. No, but thank you for asking, Gracie!
We are enjoying a little break from obedience type work for now, though some practice is still part of her daily life, of course. She was at the vet recently for a Lyme vaccine booster and I discovered she’d gained an entire pound between mid-August and mid-September, which for a (now) 12 pound dog is a lot!! So maybe it’s a good time for a little break from handfuls of training treats!!! She’s good at 12 lbs, but I wouldn’t want to see her gain much more. We’re enjoying a class in outdoor nose work, and tomorrow she starts an agility for fun class. More treats, but at least she’ll be actively working them off.
And tomorrow evening she has a pet therapy appointment at a place I have long wanted to take her and that I think she’ll really enjoy. Stay tuned.