Sometimes I get asked why I still take Silas to places like PetSmart. The answer is: Silas adores PetSmart. I can’t explain it, aside from the fact that we went there a good bit with him as a puppy.
More importantly, the big-box store environment gives us a lot of training tools. There are people, and those people are usually busy with things besides Silas. Sometimes there are dogs, but most of those dogs are used to the environment and good with other dogs. Because I never go when it’s crowded, it is impossible for us to get boxed into any one situation that we can’t get out of.
Yesterday we fled from the lawn maintenance people to the local store, because it was threatening to rain. While we were there, Silas had what I’m hoping is a breakthrough.
We stay in the store about five minutes. I keep a keen eye on Silas’s stress, and the second he starts to get the least bit iffy, we’re out the door. He was doing really well yesterday, and I decided to get on out while we were ahead. On our way in there had been a lot of dogs being picked up from grooming, so I didn’t want to stress him too much in advance of needing to go back through the crowd.
About halfway through the store on our way out we ran into a pair of employees, one man and one woman. I caught them before the dreaded reach and told them that Silas was shy. They knelt down to let him come over.
Silas gave them each a quick sniff, and then (brace yourselves, people, I almost cried):
He walked away.
For a long time he’s really only had two greetings in his arsenal, and neither one of them is great. His friendly greeting is too excessively sweet and pitiful (it sometimes includes peeing on the floor), and the other greeting involves barking.
Yesterday he said, “No, thank you.”
(We now have a twitter account for the blog. Look for it in the sidebar. Also, twitter “outed” me to all my real life friends, which makes me cranky.)