Dog trains man

Friday, April 3, 2015

Trusting Tilde

We arrived at the corner of a shopping street filled with people slowly strolling by the shop windows, ice cream stands and bakeries. Tilde's tail starts to wag in anticipation. The sight fueled her excitement. In a minute we will be in the middle of the melee. She could hardly wait, it's a Valhalla for an extrovert like Tilde. I would have to be on my toes though.

A devious plan grew in my mind. Maybe today I should let go. For the last year I have been training with her not to jump up on people and not to mouth strangers as a greeting. She was doing better, although she still needed my constant attention, my last piece of help by the perfectly timed mentioning of "Sit" during that split-second where I could see she was bracing for a new jump attempt.

Not today. Today I would be an irresponsible dog owner. An observer of my own dog. I put Tilde on a six feet leash and grabbed my camera. Not to take photo's, but to wave it around in front of my face, looking at the opposite direction of where Tilde was. The perfect disguise of the laissez-faire dog owner, a warning sign to everybody approaching, although I cheated, as from the farthest corner of my eye, I never let Tilde out of my sight.

While I was pointing the camera at the shop window of a outdoors lifestyle shop, behind me Tilde observed the faces of the people passing by. A tail wag and a smile on her face revealed if somebody had made eye contact - an irresistible magnet for dog lovers. Soon the first person stopped to pet her, and she wiggled back and forth between the man's legs, who started to laugh, "Oh my, you are a friendly one, are you!". Tilde's move to disappear between his legs made him bend slightly over, and Tilde met him halfway up in the air, and he received his first kiss. I came out from behind my camera, as if I was ignorant of what was going on around my back, and gave him a friendly nod while he moved on.

The next one drawn in by Tilde's friendly smile was a lady, and as soon as she reached for her pocket Tilde jumped. The lady made herself tall, slightly moved her side to Tilde, who sat down, her tail still wagging in anticipation of the treat she was about to get. The lady rewarded her immediately for sitting down instead. "Thank you" I said, turning towards her from behind my camera, realizing what a big help she just have been. She made a firm nod with a slight smile at me. I expected a preach, but she decided not to waste her time with such an irresponsible dog owner like me, she must have thought.

When a toddler approached holding an ice-cream in his fist on Tilde's eye-height, I decided to temporarily stop the experiment. We continued through the street, meeting more people, with mixed results. Tilde had a great time. She even learned a little without me. It made me realize I usually are too much of a control freak when it is about my dogs. I observe her through my behavior-glasses and plan constantly what to do next about this or that. Today I visited an opposite attitude and it gave me a better opportunity to enjoy the outgoing character she is.

I might have to try this disguise again, maybe it helps me to find middle-ground.


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