Today as I was driving to work I saw someone practicing street manners with a lanky young dog with floppy tipped ears. It was just beautiful to watch.
I first noticed them waiting for a stop light. The pup was sitting facing the crosswalk while gazing up at his owner's face and flicking his ears. His owner momentarily took attention off the pup and took a step to the side in order to push the crosswalk button. The pup's ridiculous ears shot straight up, and he stood up to follow his owner. Oops. The owner immediately returned to the dog's side. The dog relaxed back down into a sit, and the owner slipped him a treat. The pup continued gazing intently at the owner's face, occasionally flicking an ear to track a sound.
Then the light changed, and the owner stepped forward into the crosswalk. The pup enthusiastically bounded alongside, ears pointed forward with tips bouncing, tail jauntily waving side to side. The owner guided the dog to the sidewalk and then shortened the leash a bit. The pup popped into heel position, and the owner slipped him another treat. They continued down the sidewalk, leash short but still loose, pup gazing up at the owner with cheerfully bouncing ears and swaying tail.
There were several things I loved about this whole 30 second episode. One is that the owner was making the effort to teach street manners at all: wait at crosswalks, stick close on narrow sidewalks, and so forth. Another is that the owner recognized that human error- stepping over to push the button without preparing the dog- caused the dog to rise out of its sit. The dog got a treat for returning to the sit once the human was back in proper position. A third is that the owner cued the dog by shortening the leash but did not shorten the leash to the point where the dog couldn't escape the pressure. The dog felt no leash pressure once in proper heel position, and it got a treat too. And, finally, the attentive bouncy ears. This was a dog that was watching its owner and also enjoying its walk.