Friday, May 28, 2010

playtime, overexcited

We tried playing with Buddy today, the little male, intact miniature poodle. Well, it was interesting. Not perfect, but interesting. We didn't actually set this up; Buddy was just bouncing around off leash and came zooming up to us when Vanya and I were on a walk.

Because I suspected Buddy might be around, I had muzzled Vanya before we walked down the road near their house. When I saw Buddy come charging toward us, I did manage to get Vanya to focus on me for a microsecond.

( If I had been setting this up properly, I would not have let Vanya interact with Buddy until he was politely walking on his leash and watching me when requested. I would have asked Lyle to put Buddy on a leash, and we would have played the penalty yards game, walking toward Buddy as long as Vanya was being polite and going backwards back to the start line as soon as he started pulling or vocalizing. We do this when he wants to greet new people. Anyway, so much for best-laid plans.)

Buddy came zooming up to us and Vanya and Buddy started dancing around--no vocalizing, no heads on shoulders. Vanya tried a couple awkward play bows (good boy!) and then he started getting pushy, shoving himself into the little poodle. Buddy wasn't impressed with full body contact, so he snapped at Vanya. Unlike a well-socialized dog, my little tarzan reacts to being told "back off buster" by getting all pissy and snappy (which is why I was glad he had his muzzle on).

Buddy retreated, I called Vanya back to me, Vanya shrieked with frustration and started offering little yips and play bows, Buddy came dancing back over, and we repeated this several times.

Shirley (she's the mom of Lyle, who owns Buddy. Shirley loves Vanya, heaven knows why) was watching all this. I think both Lyle and I were ready to call it quits, but Shirley suggested that we let Vanya off leash, thinking that he might be better able to interact a bit more without setting Buddy off. So we tried that for a moment, but then another yippie dog (Happy) came bouncing out, off leash, at us and a curious cat came walking up. Ok, too much excitement. Can we all say "over threshold" together!

At the point, I grabbed Vanya's leash, Lyle put all their critters inside, and Vanya got to go climb into Shirley's lap and give her kisses. Then Lyle came out and Vanya got to lean up against him and grin with joy as Lyle scratched his chest for a long, long time.

When it was time to go, Vanya of course decided that he didn't feel like it, because life was obviously a lot more exciting at the Huuskos. So he put on his display of "I'm a terrible toddler having a breakdown." Impulse control? Hello? How many years have we been working on this? Sometimes I think it's getting worse, not better.

 When a car drove by with neighbors, and they stopped to chat, Vanya shrieked like his little heart was breaking when they drove off. At this point, I lost my temper,  put on his gentle leader and made him alternate heeling and sitting the rest of the walk home.

So what did I learn from this little playdate?
1. Vanya may adore tiny poodles, but they don't adore him. He was too big, and more important, too unsocialized and rough in his play style for Buddy the miniature poodle. I really wish I had a big, tough, mellow, calm, lab who likes full-body play.
2. Vanya has pretty good play skills with Tiva, but none whatsoever with other dogs. Stay tuned for: "can this dog's play skills be saved? Or is he condemned to a life of plush dogs for pals?"


  1. If you think you'd like to try it, Andre is big, mellow and used to Amber's play style which I would guess is very similar to Vanya's.

  2. Thanks, Lana! That's a great idea. I had a lot of fun working with you and Amber on BAT yesterday, and I'm looking forward to our next session.