Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Day 1

Since I am still furloughed due to the US government shut down, I was able to take advantage of the entire day and spread out multiple training sessions.

In the morning, I took all 3 dogs to the nearby pet stores. The small town that I live in has 3 pet stores ... apparently we love our animals around here! In each store, we hung out and chatted with the employees and other shoppers. We wandered the aisles, and I allowed Bennett to explore the surroundings. I let her sniff anything she liked, calling her name on occasion to bring her attention back to me. I rewarded recalls with soft treats and lots of happy praise. While walking, we focused on keeping a loose leash. Because Gio and Romeo were with us, Bennett was happy to walk with them, so loose leash wasn't a problem. She hasn't shown any tendency to pull or forge yet, so I'm keeping up the verbal praise and happy clapping while she is beside me. She will occasionally balk at going through doors or on/off curbs, but she generally powers through with a little bit of verbal encouragement. By the time we got to the third pet store, she was not having any door or curb problems. She was consistently responding to her name and was offering sits for treats. She is walking confidently with the other dogs through stores and outdoors to and from the car.

I have started to introduce the concept of sitting and waiting nicely while we load the car. She has a lovely sit at the side of the car and, while I was standing on her leash while I unlocked the back and loaded in our shopping goodies, she held her sit despite people and cars moving past us.

When we got home, I switched her from her collar (a limited-slip martingale at this point until she proves to me that she won't slip her collar) to a harness and long-line. There is a great empty field just behind our condo complex that the neighbourhood uses as an unofficial off-leash park. I grabbed some poo bags, more treats, and the camera and off we went! Gio and Romeo got to run and explore off-leash, and Bennett enjoyed her first glimpse of pseudo-off-leash long-line freedom. Our neighbourhood Schnauzer buddy, Jasper, was in the field playing as well, and Bennett greeted him very happily and appropriately. Polite sniffs, no paws in the face, no pulling. And when Jasper initiated play, she was more than happy to oblige him in some bark and chase! Lots of exploring and sniffing, found some deer poop and ate some grass. I interspersed recalls while she was out running and sniffing, with lots of fun games when she got back to me. Her recalls are really nice, and she responds quickly when her name is called.

Potty time, BIG drink of water, then nap time in the crate. All four of us enjoyed a nice afternoon nap.

The evening training session was a little more formal. I introduced the clicker to her, loading it briefly, and then marking for hand touches and sits. She has started to pick up the idea of offered behaviors and seems to be beginning to grasp the concept of "click = treat". She offered me lovely focus for 20 minutes of clicker training, split up with multiple breaks for rubs and wrestles, of course! She is a very keen worker with great food motivation! I cut the training session off after 20 minutes before she lost focus or started to get confused, and we went outside for a potty break. Romeo's neighbourhood boys were out playing on the grass outside our door, so I called them all over to introduce Bennett. These boys all live in the condo complex and routinely play near and around the house. They are fantastic with Romeo and Gio, and will often come to the door to ask if "the dogs can come out to play". Romeo adores them and will sit at the back door watching them play for hours. But, of course, being young boys, they are loud, rowdy, and pushy. Bennett was a little put off by them, but warmed up a bit when I gave them hands full of dog treats to give her. She doesn't love them yet, but eased up a bit for the treats. I plan to take her outside whenever they are around to work some focus and redirection, and get some more treats from them.

As would be expected, there is one VERY VERY tired little puppy in the house this evening! She's currently sleeping on the couch beside me, letting me type this longer than intended blog post.

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