Silas can’t have a lot of things to chew because he’s allergic to them. The ones he’s not allergic to are expensive, so they’re special occasion only. We’ve mostly filled this gap with cardboard boxes. Silas loves tearing up a good box, and he’s always very careful not to eat the pieces.
He has now used the cardboard boxes to invent a new game. Problem is, I don’t understand it. At all.
He will get a little scrap of tape off the box, then bring it to me, proudly. “Look what I’ve got!” If I act like I don’t notice it, he will push it further out of his mouth. “Don’t you see? I brought you this!”
Then he will act like he wants me to play.
This is where things get murky. If I reach up to take the tape, or the little piece of cardboard, or whatever it is, he shies away. Not like he’s playing–it seems more like a legitimate “I’m really uncomfortable with you reaching for my mouth to take this thing.” (He is not a resource guarder, so I have no qualms about respecting his rules.)
If I hold out my hand, he puts his face in it and play bows. “Why aren’t you playing tug with this? I’m trying to give it to you. See?!” If I can grab it at this stage, he’ll play tug, but who wants to play tug with a wet piece of packing tape?
I thought, “Okay, he wants to trade this for a treat.” So I ask him to give it to me, he spits it out, he gets his treat. Then he looks puzzled, finds a new cardboard, and starts the whole thing over again.
I’m perfectly happy to practice “give” with him; it’s one of his weaker commands. (He’s 100% consistent with it IF he can see the treat.) I just can’t help the feeling that I am somehow disappointing him.