Mom and Dad want me to walk with a loose leash without an easy walker or other harness. When I was a young pup, I wore a Gentle Leader leash, but I absolutely hated it! I ran away when I saw it and only came when they offered me treats. I pawed at it and tried to take it off, but I was so energetic they knew they needed it to help to keep a hold of me. By the time I turned one, my parents let me wear an Easy Walker leash as I continued my training. As I approached my second birthday, mom's goal was to walk me with the leash attached to my collar without a harness. So she started practicing in the Petco Store where we go to training. Then she started taking me to the bus stop with the leash clipped to my collar. This is actually going very well! However, when we go for a walk I still get excited about squirrels and bunnies and choke myself so she clips the leash onto the Easy Walker for that two mile hike. She wraps the leash around her waist to keep her hands free and prevent yo-yo arm and she stops if I pull the leash taunt. I have learned to look at her and take a step back, but darn it, I really wish she walked or ran at my faster paced speed.  But I am definitely learning what to do. 
As we walk, she stops at every intersection and expects me to look at her. Once I do, she  either points which way to go or offers me a choice of this way or that.  I always have an opinion and signal with my nose. However, once in a while, she doesn't have much time and says we are going back home after two blocks. I dig my heels in and refuse to budge, but once I realize I'm not going to win I agree to go. Sigh. If only I could be in charge!!!
Mom still puts the Easy Walker on me for hikes or public access work, but to go to the car, bus stop, dog park or training she simply clips the leash to my collar. I am really growing up!
 
I love to play and play big, but for some reason not every dog wants to play with me. I get very excited when I have recess at training class or am at the off-leash dog park. Unfortunately, I jumped on a couple of people and they do not want their dogs to play with me anymore. This usually happens when I first get to the park and especially if there are loud barking dogs or circling border collies.  Some of these dogs are older and some are protective-reactive if I get too close to their parent or they are protecting their ball. I don't care about balls and mostly want to run. So mom is trying to help me learn how to calm down when I get over-excited with a short time-out and to redirect me away from the dogs that don't want to play.  My favorite dogs are the big ones that like to run. I play well with most of the golden retrievers and labs, a Russian wolf hound, one young boxer and an Old English Sheepdog. Bull dogs don't seem to like the way I look and most of the pointers and hounds don't care to play.
Mom takes me to the off-leash park every day she can. After about a half-hour when it is warm or an hour in cool weather I am content and ready to focus for whatever task is asked.  We often go to a store on the way home and the people complement me on my fine public access manners. Then I go home and have a nice long nap. 
 
Mom takes me to the nine-acre park most mornings for a 30 - 40 minute run. Usually there are some dogs that like to play, but the weather turned cold and there are not as many dogs. I was able to run with a few dogs who were chasing balls and mom took me to the gated pond where I jumped in and out hoping to engage the ducks. Dang, they kept swimming away! On our way out, mom was walking towards the gate when a family with a boxer and an older dog was walking by. I wanted to play and danced around doing  my "ready" bow and "play with me" bark. The boxer didn't appreciate my invitation and pounced on me.  Mom thinks I need to learn better dog language when the other dog doesn't agree to play because I just kept jumping and asking. The boxer got upset and the parents had to pull us apart. The boxer was mad and answered me with bites and growls.  I quickly resorted to "I'm submissive" body language but the boxer was so mad it kept attacking me. I was so scared I was frozen while mom grabbed my collar and lead me to the gate. There was bloody saliva on me so mom checked me all over, but there were no apparent bites. Mom waited for the other parents to come out and asked if everything was ok since she had seen blood. They appreciated mom asking but retorted that I need better park manners. Many dogs there just want to walk with their owners while I want to run and engage play. Mom is concerned and says if I don't behave we may not be able to go there anymore. What? Chase that squirrel! Mail-carrier with treats! Street walking dog to engage! Chase that chipmunk! Send the black birds flying! Woo hoo! Oh, remind me, what did you say?
 
Mom is really tuning into me and learning to understand dog language. When I circle around her she understands I am asking for something and she follows along saying "show me" as I herd her towards my desire. Usually I take her to the bin with chews, but today I took her to into the kitchen. I looked at the leashes, looked at the garage door and then looked at her. She was super excited about how I showed her I wanted to go somewhere in the car. She already had a plan to take me on an adventure, but I'm wagging my tail at how well we can talk to each other. Yea, awesome family I have here!
 
On the way to the bus this morning little girl said "Look! Rocky loves me! He made me a heart shaped hole."
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Little girl's valentine
 
Little girl loves me. Everyday she tells me how happy she is that I am her pal.  I'm seven months old now and understand not to jump or pull on little girl's clothes even when I'm excited. She likes to hang out with me when I'm relaxing. She knows human hugs make me feel trapped and lets me decide how close to be.  I'm the luckiest dog in the world.
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I try so hard to talk to my people but they don't understand. I was barking to go out, barking to go in, out, in. Sigh. Mom was getting frustrated. She knew I had chewed on a bully stick and ran around the yard and house with some toys. But I needed more. She finally got the message when she reached for my collar and I gave a big old air chomp. Then I picked up a stick and looked at her. Ah-ha moment! She went and got a brand new bone out of the freezer for me. Thanks, mom! 
 
So Mr. Marbles the cat chased a mouse under my crate. Mom heard me scratching at the tray on the bottom of my crate starting about 5:00 a.m. She thought it was unusual but shut her door and went back to sleep. When she came down to let me out she found Mr. Marbles right outside my crate playing with a toy mouse. She got busy taking me out for my morning walk and little girl fed me. Meanwhile, Mr. Marbles went into my crate and sat on the spot where I was pawing. Mom decided to investigate and found a squished mouse right under that spot! Mr. Marbles and I kept coming back to try and dig until She and dad lifted up the crate up to show us that the mouse was gone. Rocky the wonderdog aka assistant mouse catcher!
 
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chilling out on a rug
Trainer lady showed mom and dad how I could lay on a rug next to their chair. Since I will be a therapy dog I have to be able to lay down quietly when out with little girl in public places.  They are using towels which are easy to wash. I like it, and mom told little girl it is like the carpet squares in preschool. I know where to go and they even let me in the office when they are working, as long as I stay on my rug. Trainer lady told them to quietly toss a few bits of kibble on the floor when I am laying down to help me remember this is a good idea.  Trainer lady pointed out when I lay down with my hips sideways that I am very relaxed and calm.
 
So trainer lady reacted strongly when mom  said she read people have to be alpha.  Trainer lady doesn't like "a certain celebrity" who promotes those methods and asked mom to read about Sirius training methods by Ian Dunbar. She also recommended Turid Rugaas and her dog communication articles.  All training is done with lots of love, rewards and treats.  That makes me happy because none of us dogs wants to be shamed, yelled at or hurt. I'm glad mom listens to trainer lady, she has some great ideas.