Day Three Level Two

WOAH It feels weird being in the same level for three whole days!

Tonight we practiced the hand signal commands with chairs again, and made the dogs sit while we tried to walk around them (almost like a “stay” command–which Danny knows but isn’t perfect at).

His best stay is definitely a Lay Down so I will use that for my go-to position for what Danny should do if we’re not moving but connected by a leash. We practiced the one where I’m walking backwards while luring him and then turning with him ending up on my left side again. Danny’s getting the hang of this one, but once we do it in random space instead of in a vertical line he gets a bit too distracted still. 

We also learned “touch” which is where the dog’s nose touches the palm of my hand and then he gets a treat. Apparently this will be very useful in avoiding distractions, in games, and as a building block for more complex behaviors. Danny already knows this command, so I ramped it up a notch by having him touch my hand to the side, up high, down low, and even between my legs!

Good news!–> He wasn’t as hungry this time, which made the training treats desirable but not absolutely-urgent-feed-me-nows. I actually almost ran out of treats tonight D:

I might need to get Danny a no-pull front-clip harness so that he learns to walk more properly on a leash! 😦 $$$

Hopefully our next class is Saturday!

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Day Two Level Two

Last Wednesday 10/18, Danny and I attended our second Level Two class! We saw familiar faces in the three other dogs and their handlers. Just a quick summary tonight about last week:

We practiced the hand signals for sit, lay down, and pose (stand) in our chairs, but we didn’t get too close to each other in our chair arrangement this time. 

We also practiced this new thing Robin calls Sticky Dog. The purpose of this is to train the dogs to walk on our left side AND walk without pulling. I had to lure him by waving a treat in front of his nose while he faced me and walking slowly backwards. Once I had his attention I had to turn my body to the right so that he was still being lured but was now on my left side. I gave him the treat as we turned, and we practiced this several times. I really like this because leash-walking is a HUGE thing that Dannyboy needs to practice. 

Also, we worked on sitting in front of other dogs. I had to walk my dog up to another handler and we simultaneously made our dogs sit, facing each other, and gave them treats. After a three-second hold, I gave another treat. And again. Then I lured him to turn around and be on my left side as I walked away from the other handler team. Danny was surprisingly okay at this!

He was especially hungry and ornery because I hadn’t fed him much that day. Note to self: pre-feed him a little bit but still keep him hungry enough for class!

Day One Level Two

Last Saturday 9/14, Danny and I took our first Level Two class! Two other medium-sized dogs were also there, but Dannyboy didn’t seem to mind (which is HUGE!) Again we worked on turning away from other dogs by luring them with treats. Then we practiced the voice command with the hand signal for sit, down, and stand. (I call “stand,” “pose.”) Because we don’t practice the stay command until Level Three, we didn’t attach a word or hand signal to the dog’s action of staying in place–either in a sit or down. I gave him treats every few seconds when he held his position, but the second he moved, I turned my back to him and waited about 10 seconds for him to regroup. Realizing he didn’t perform the way I wanted, Danny was all game next go round. He’s pretty good at the “stay” in a down position, but needs work in the sit position.

Then, we moved our chairs into a circle and practiced our sit, down, pose commands from a seated position. Danny was surprisingly good at being so close to the other dogs. I had to troubleshoot though, moving my chair back because the black lab on the left was getting a little too close to my dog. He’s definitely making progress though!

Lastly, we practiced the recall command. I were given 15-foot nylon leash to practice with for ten minutes. What we had to do was throw a treat far ahead of us, allow the dog to run and get it, and then call them back. Because “come” is thrown around pretty loosely in my house and this training is for important situations, I used the word “now!” After a few trials, we had to give the leash back because class was over. I hope we can practice that one more, though! 

Danny is making lots of progress—especially with other dogs!

Day Two Level One: Where is everyone??

On Wednesday, 9/11 Danny and I attended our second Level One class. We hurried in, thinking we were late and were surprised to find that nobody else was coming–private lesson! 

Because Robin knows Danny and I are in the levels program so he can pass the Creature Comfort’s Pet Therapy Test, she geared our private showing into a therapy-oriented lesson. When she sat in the wheel chair and wheeled up to him, he calmly approached her and sniffed her. SCORE. However, after a bit of investigating he gently put his two front paws up on her legs, asking permission to jump into her lap. Although polite, this action will not help us pass the test. But overall he was generally good. Then came the crutches. Between the noise and the movement Danny showed signs of apprehension by side-stepping the instrument and appearing disinterested. Not-so-score. Thankfully, Robin said these were minor issues and will be very easy for him to overcome.

After practicing some more reps of Lay Down and Sit. I used hand signals as well as the voice command and he complied every time. At the end of our 45 minutes, Robin said she’s going to pass us into Level Two!! 

YAY! Danny only needed two days of Level One and got a private lesson during it! WE WERE PSYCHED

Day One of Level One

Hi! Sorry it took me so long to post! 

Two days ago Dannyboy and I attended our very first obedience class. Going into it I was very nervous because I didn’t know how he’d react to having other dogs so close by, nor did I think I’d be able to actually keep his focus. I am, however, VERY happy to say that we made it through with minimal glitches! 

We first walked in: four chairs were set up in different spaces all facing each other. I tried to sit there and have him sit with me but he was too anxious, especially with three other dogs nearby. But I did my best to keep his focus by walking him around the chair and having him sit or lie down for treats. 

Once class began: There were two dog training instructors. One was more of a sidekick-assistant and the other lady was definitely more in charge. Robin, the head trainer, used the dog across from me to demonstrate how to have the dog (on the leash, of course) sort of pace back and forth with you as you made a kissy-noise and gave him a treat. This was to get the dogs in the mindset of training and also get them moving around/being distracted then snapping into what we need them to focus on.

As class progressed: Robin used a different person’s dog to demonstrate how to make him face you and sit. Then lay down. Then transition into sit again by bringing the treat back over their heads. After practicing this a few times with our own respective dogs, we did a different exercise. I led my dog to another dog-and-handler team and once my dog started to notice the other dog and hone in on him or her I took a treat and waved it in front of his face. Then I moved my hand so as to lure him away from the other dog, back in the opposite direction, and finally gave him the treat. We did this a bunch of times to practice impulse control. 

Also: In class, we did another impulse-control exercise. We put treats on the floor, cupped our hands over it, and when the dog finally stopped digging for it, I let him have it. Another point was I told Danny to sit and then politely wait to be hand-fed (without jumping up to pry my hand open). He was very good at this! He waited almost every time, watching my hand move around until it lowered to his head and opened.

As a result: I’m very confident that Danny and I will fly past this level. He seems to have done a very good job this past Saturday–despite his typically unkind behavior toward other dogs–and I can’t wait for our next Level One course on Wednesday!

Ten Hour Countdown

OUR FIRST CLASS IS IN 10 HOURS. 

It’s a 45 minute Level One class, and I’m very nervous. I’m afraid that Danny won’t be able to focus on the class because he’ll be too nervous/anxious about the other handful of dogs in the room. I hope he makes me proud! We fed him only half his dinner tonight (he doesn’t get fed breakfast) so hopefully he’ll be nice and hungr…I mean eager to oblige tomorrow! Crossing my fingers anyway..