WOW! Danny and I have great news!

I’ll tell you how it all started:

I walked into class on 10/22 and realized I had forgotten to register for the class that day ahead of time. The trainer was nice enough to say it was no problem and that she’s waiting for one more person to show up and then we’ll start class. I walk into the arena and nobody else is there! AND, the other dog and handler didn’t come because they were sick; it was another private lesson! 

Knowing our Levels Two-Month Membership package would be over on Saturday 10/26, I was psyched that we got to sneak a final lesson in and talk openly about my focus–being ready to start the pet therapy. Robin told me how she recommends I don’t renew my membership and continue with Levels but rather sign up for the four-week course Pet Therapy Prep (which includes the certification test during the fourth class). She said Danny has mastered the basic skills and innately possesses the most important trait — love of humans. She thinks with the three classes of review he should be able to pass the test for the fourth class. I was pumped!

She geared our 10/22 class toward talking to me about this four-week course and walking around with a walker or wheel chair just to see how he’d react. He went right up to her and wasn’t even spooked. In fact, he put his paws up on her chair as if asking to jump on her lap. I think this is bad so I’m going to continue practicing having him sit and placed on peoples’ laps. 

The Pet Therapy Prep course begins in the middle of November and is structured a bit differently. Instead of signing up for whatever classes you can squeeze into at your own pace and schedule like in the Levels program, this prep course is strictly late Saturday afternoons for four consecutive weeks. After passing the evaluation on the fourth Saturday, I will attend an information session about liabilities/procedures/contact information (without Dannyboy). Then, Danny and I go into a facility with a mentor (a pet therapy handler who is certified to chaperone) who will guide us through our first visit and answer any questions while evaluating me and Danny one final time. If all goes well on that visit, we’ll be all set to sign up for therapy visits on our own through Creature Comfort!!


Day Two Level Three

Feeling pretty confident, Dannyboy and I entered our second Level Three class. I’m not sure if we’re going to graduate from the levels program or simply pass far enough to be able to pass the pet therapy test. Either way, we attended class on 10/15. 

Once again we did the sit stay with me going to the end of the leash. But when I tried to clap at the end of the leash as a test for him, he stood up. Danny and I have more practicing to do before his sit stay and down stay are perfect! 

We also worked on the “now,” or “come” command. Like I said before, I like to use the word “now” for when he’s far away and “come” for when he’s on the other side of the house. Anyway, ready with our long leashes and lined up with about four other large dogs, Danny and I took a few steps backwards. Immediately he began to follow me, expecting me to turn around and practice having him walk on my left side, which is why he was surprised when I took a large treat out and threw it in the opposite direction that I was walking. He started heading toward it and I turned and jogged in the other direction (the one I was walking backwards to) and yelled “Danny now! Now Danny!” and he turned around and came bounding toward me, ears flopping in the wind and tail swishing behind him and all. I was told to reward him with lots of treats and praising and petting for about 20 seconds, which I did. 

I’m pretty proud of our progress with this command. The other day I was on the deck and he was in the yard and I was trying to get him to come to me on the deck and I shouted “DANNY NOW!” and he sprinted across the patio, up the deck stairs, and into my arms like a good doggie. 😀 

Lastly, at class we practiced “Leave it” for when there’s an object, food, or person which we don’t want our dogs near. Robin the trainer was impressed when I had Dannyboy lay down while I placed a treat a foot from him, told him to leave it, and he stared at me, leaving it alone! (Jokes on her, I taught Danny to “leave it” 1.5 years ago) Even strolling passed the food item on the floor, Danny still left it alone when I asked him to “leave it.” 

Robin ended class with a reminder to practice touching our dogs’ paws, ears, muzzles, and anywhere else a vet may touch so as to properly condition them for awkward petting. She also said that Danny especially should practice sitting for attention from strangers AND family members and wait to be petted. Being in the class because I’m interested in pet therapy, I found these reminders very helpful! That’s all for now, no class on Saturday because it’s Sunday instead, at a public dog-and-people festival for Morris K9 Campus (which I cannot attend because I have to work :/) I’ll be at class on Tuesday night though! Until then, Danny and I will be doing a few practice sessions at home (hopefully)! 

Thanks for reading!

Day One Level Three

Wahoo Level Three! Danny and I were stoked coming into this class on 10/12, but were definitely nervous when we spotted the two Labs and the Bernese Mountain dog who are also in Level Three! 

In class we practiced “stay.” To do this, I asked Danny to sit and put my hand up like a stop sign while saying “stay!” then I turned around and walked to the end of his leash. I quickly came back to him, gave him a treat, and turned around again. When I got to the end of the leash I turned around and said, “Free, okay,” which means Danny can release his position. He came running right over to me for another treat for “free, okay.” Adding onto this, I had him sit and while I was at the end of the leash I clapped my hands a few times to provide a distraction. Then I briskly walked back to him and gave him a treat before walking out again and then giving the release command/treat. Danny was much better with the laying down version of this.


We also practiced no-pull loose leash walking. Using his handy-dandy NEW HARNESS (YAYYY!) Danny and I walked with him on my left side. Every time he pulled, I turned around and walked in the opposite direction. I had to change directions so that he wouldn’t be able to be rewarded for pulling by me continuing in the direction he wants. 


Finally we practiced “roll over” and “settle.” Since Danny already knows how to roll over, we felt happily ahead of the class (: “Settle” looks like “play dead,” only it’s used as a command for the dog to relax and be still. Danny still needs to work on this one. I have to practice having him lay down and pulling a treat from in front of his nose to behind his ear so that he turns sideways and lays on the ground. 

That’s all for our first day of Level Three, but I can’t wait to see what else is in store for us!

Yay? Day Five Level Two

I had to miss last Saturday’s class (10/5) because I had to work. But on this past Wednesday (10/9), Danny and I had our best class yet! We practiced the entire class while borrowing a front-clip no-pull harness, and Danny worked so well with it! There were seven OTHER dogs, and when we each walked around aimlessly practicing the “sticky dog” dog on our left side without the dog pulling, Danny had no problem walking through a midst of other dogs — HUGE FEAT. (If you remember, in the beginning Dannyboy didn’t like other dogs/know how to socialize with them.) 

In this class we all practiced the sit, down, pose with our dogs while we were seated in chairs as well as while we were standing. We also continued to build on the stay command by asking the dog to sit/down/pose and hold it while we gave them continuous treats until they broke the position. Danny is very good at the down stay, is average at the sit stay, and definitely needs to work on the pose (stand on all fours) stay. 

We practiced some leash walking, too. Danny loves these new treats I’m using. They look like little gingerbreadmen (: 

At the end of class, I returned the harness 😦  (hopefully my parents will buy the harness for the dog as a gift??) and spoke a bit with Robin. She said she’d move me and Danny to Level Three!!! But she says we need to work on leash walking, which I’m sure will be 100% easier with a front-clip harness. She hasn’t accepted our mini-graduation into her system yet, so we can’t register for the Level Three class tomorrow at 1pm, but we’ll be there! I’m nervous! I don’t know if Danny belongs in the class or what! Fingers crossed for a good day =D 

Tonight :(

There was no class tonight because Robin is on vacation 😦 I tried taking Danny to the local park but between the marching band, soccer games, joggers, and other dogs he just wasn’t having it. He couldn’t focus on me or my not-so-tasty treats. I got frustrated because I thought he was progressing better than this. But at least I can say he’s been better at playing with other dogs, which is awesome!

Next class is Saturday :/ 

Day Four Level Two

Ugh, I’m not feeling so great about being stuck in Level Two for so many days. I’ve seen new dog teams cycle through already, and it makes me feel set back. Also, my membership at the doggy school runs out on 10/26. Which means I either need to zoom through four levels in four weeks or pay an extra ~$250. I don’t know how I can come up with that money, since it’s for Girl Scouts and all. 

Anyway, on Saturday 9/28 Danny and I attended our fourth session of Level Two. These unfamiliar faces were becoming more and more familiar. There was even another toy cockapoo there that day! How weird! Danny was much more focused and held the lay-down position as the go-to position for when he’s not doing anything. When he got antsy, we did a silent game of Touch My Hand When It’s In Different Spots. We practiced some of the walk-backwards-turn-treat-keep-dog-on-left-side movements before discussing the recall command. For this, I had to give Robin my dog’s leash, and run away shouting DANNY NOW NOW DANNY NOW (because I’m using “now” in lieu of “come”). Once I got far enough away and while I was still running away, Robin let go of Danny’s leash and sent him bounding towards me. He made it to me, but definitely looked at the other dogs as if in consideration of bounding towards them instead. 

We also did some of the work for “stay” but in a pose position (standing on all fours). This one is much harder for Danny to grasp, but he’s getting there!

I came so close to purchasing a front-clip harness that day, but they are $26 and I’m on the hunt for similar yet less expensive versions. Anyone know where I can find one??