I took Silas to a store on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. It turned out to be busier than I expected, probably because it shares a parking lot with the grocery store. Three clerks and four customers, in a tiny strip mall store with a lot of merchandise.
Once again, he was great. He started getting a little overly excited/playful by the time I was done checking out, but he was happy. He even greeted almost everyone appropriately, only jumping up on one person.
Which has me pleased, but puzzled.
I’ve always said that he’s better with people who don’t surprise him. So, going into a store doesn’t bring up nearly the issues that, say, going through a drive-through window does.
There are, no question, still some issues with people. Even at his best, he can get too excited, which can lead to some (usually inappropriate) attempts to ask people to play. He can be hesitant to “warm up” to those people who have surprised him. But these seem to me to be pretty “regular” problems, especially for a young, sensitive dog. His reaction to being surprised needs a lot of work, but it’s a much easier job if there’s fundamental good will beneath the barking.
What I’m puzzled about is the why and the how, so to speak. Did I do something that actually helped him? Was that last round of obedience class really that useful, even though we worked with people comparatively little? Was this whole anxious-about-people thing just puppy adolescence (Silas is officially 18 months old on the 30th)? Or, was I just making a mountain out of a molehill the whole time?
Right now I’m feeling pretty optimistic. Next week after we come back from another trip home, where we’ll have to do a lot of managing, I’ll try to come back and read this all again, and take a deep breath.