Tessa and I are enjoying play class. It is actually a lot more of a challenge than I had anticipated and it is very humbling in many ways. It is really pushing Tessa's comfort zone, and probably mine, as well. But it's good. There is good fruit coming from it already and in the long run I think it will help Tessa and become a better team.
The first type of play that we covered was toy, and this was a difficulty from the word "go". Tessa was very clearly intimidated by the presence of the toy when it was just her and I trying to play with it. She would go to her safe spot and just plant herself there, very unsure of what she was to do. And she did not like that.
To build toward a more positive association with toys, I was to turn away from Tessa and play with the toy by myself, then leave it there and turn and give Tessa lots of love and belly rubs. Tessa liked this. She soon started to relax more in the presence of the toy.
The idea, and I really don't know why I didn't think of this myself, is to associate the sight of the toy with good things to make Tessa want to see that toy!
It is already having a bit of an effect. She isn't playing with the toy yet, but I am seeing her start to like our "toy sessions". Also, she is grabbing the ball and capering around with it when the other dogs are playing even more than before!
Now we have started personal play and that is going better. She is still tentative, but far more receptive to this. We are working on building up her little "bursts" of excitement that she has every now and again.
Personally, I am looking forward to food play the most. I think this is the area where Tessa is really going to shine. But I am recognizing the value in pushing the comfort zone on the other types of play.
If it builds Tessa's confidence overall, then it is a very good thing.
Some videos will be posted when I get something that I actually want to share with the world!!