Observing the "new" puppies at class, reminded Lisa and I how cute and frustrating young Labradors can be. We questioned why we would ever want to raise another puppy. Yesterday, Monte attended a Mites hockey game in the morning and Badger hockey game at night. We were reminded how difficult it is to deal with a ten month old Labrador with unresolved issues (which should have been dealt with at a younger age). We questioned why we raise puppies of any age.
Our lovable companion cried and whined the entire morning. Two of his issues combined (fast moving children and hockey action) for an unbearable morning for us and other spectators. We tried everything to get him to relax and be quiet with limited success. Eventually we gave up and hoped that it would work itself out. Great idea, but rarely works. Thankfully the game ended and we could retreat, tail between our legs, to a calmer environment.
After spending the afternoon practicing magic tricks, my hope was that Monte's behavior would magically resolve itself before the evening game. No such luck as he was the worst he has ever been, whining uncontrollably for the first period. I knew we we in trouble as soon as we entered the parking ramp, Monte sensed where we were and was very excited. In our seats, I tried everything I could think of and he would not relax.
Sitting in the front row, being watched and bothering everyone in our section, my initial thought was that we need to get out of here and get rid of this dog. My second thought was that we would get through this night and then stop bringing him to hockey games, events with children, activities with any action, ... Both options were essentially the same, admit failure and give up on Monte ever being a guide dog or children's visual companion dog, which sounds better and better every day. Fleeing this situation was close to an actuality, but would help no one.
Just before my complete submission and meltdown, I recalled some training advice that we had provided Abbey last week. Not the same situation/issue, but the method might be helpful. Since things could not get much worse or more embarrassing, I decided to give it a try.
Always eager to please, Monte complied with my DOWN command. Then I physically rolled him on his side, holding him down, patting his side, stroking his head, asking/hoping/willing him to relax. Keep in mind the hockey game is in progress, we are in our front row seats surrounded by other fans. After he calmed down, I released him.
Now I would love to write that this application of calm assertive energy, a la the Dog Whisperer, changed Monte forever. However, that did not happen. Although not an immediate transformation, he seemed better and the process was repeated every time he appeared stressed. He spent the bulk of the second, third, and overtime period lying at our feet with his head resting on the wall in front of us, alert/aware but quiet. Until the Badgers score the winning goal with 8 seconds left in overtime - too much energy. We returned home emotionally exhausted.