Yet another delay for his therapy test due to the snowstorm this past Tuesday…so close yet so far
Danny’s test got rescheduled until Tuesday at 1:30!
The last private sesh of pet therapy training was last thursday! For about 30 minutes Danny and I went through the therapy test with Robin, performing each task about 3-5 times just to stick some extra training in there. I only fed him sparingly because treats cannot be given during the actual test and I wanted him to adjust his mindset that he won’t be getting food every single time.
We ran through our usual routine like I’ve been posting about, and Robin said if she were to be harsh on us she’d give us a 21.5 out of 24 and you need at 17 to pass! It was .5 point off for getting up during the lay down and stay, and 2 off for not following me closely enough/sniffing the ground too much during our loose leash walking.
Of course, I’d like to get a perfect 24, but at least we’re gonna pass! I’m very confident but still slightly nervous…
1. Be especially patient with your humans during this time. They may appear to be more stressed-out than usual and they will appreciate long comforting dog leans.
2. They may come home with large bags of things they call gifts. Do not assume that all the gifts are yours.
3. Be tolerant if your humans put decorations on you. They seem to get some special kind of pleasure out of seeing how you look with fake antlers.
4. They may bring a large tree into the house and set it up in a prominent place and cover it with lights and decorations. Bizarre as this may seem to you, it is an important ritual for your humans, so there are some things you need to know:
- don’t pee on the tree
- don’t drink water in the container that holds the tree
- mind your tail when you…
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Oh I almost forgot! Danny responded well to the wheelchair and cane again. He also improved with his walker-liking. I have to practice using my kitchen chair as a walker to make him still want to come up and be pet by me.
Danny was very happy because the treats for this class were little ham bites with a few dog treats, unlike the usual dog-treat-only method I’ve been doing.
They just adore him and his loving pet therapy personality there, though!
Okay, that’s all!
Today was the second out of three lessons in the Pet Therapy Prep class at Morris K9 Campus (for me and Danny anyway!). That’s right, folks, another private lesson! This one was only about 45 minutes because we didn’t go through that evaluation sheet like last time.
Instead, Robin had Danny and I practice loose-leash walking, sit, down-stay, come, meeting a friendly stranger, sit for petting, noisy crowd, enthusiastic petters, and some handling/restraining hugs.
For the loose-leash walking I had Danny on my left side and said “let’s go.” He walked with me at my side and then Robin–imitating the evaluator–told me to turn 180 degrees to start walking toward her again, then turn left, then turn right, then stop, all with Danny watching my body for cues and staying calmly on my left side. He had a bit of trouble walking on my left side as I turned to the left quite spastically. After a couple of minutes of walking around turning in all different directions, he caught on and did well when Robin asked us again. 😀
Then, we clipped the long-leash line and I had him sit (which he did) and lay down (which he did) and stay (which he did). Then I walked to the end of the long line, turned around, came back to him, and gave him a treat. I walked out into a different direction turned around and called him, releasing him of his position. We repeated this a few times because after the first treat, (whether I had food or just petting) Danny stood up. Although he stayed in his spot, he still got up so I made the correcting ah-ah noise and asked for a lay down again. After a few tries we were done with this exercise.
Then we met a friendly stranger, which was really just Robin along with a dog Danny had never met before. We did this a few times with this one medium-sized dog and at the end of class we did it again with a larger dog and then a large dog. This is the one where Danny and I approach them, he sits, the other dog sits, and the owners shake hands. Then the owners turn and walk away, with their dogs showing no signs of aggression or stress.
We did another noisy crowd and enthusiastic petting (separate events) like I posted about last time. We also did a restraining hug and ear-and-paw-touching, the former which still bothered Danny a bit but not as much. I have to practice this with him more before next tuesday which is our evaluation!
Thursday is our last class/private lesson before our test on Tuesday, which I have to leave school for! Although Robin believes Danny and I will pass it, I’m still nervous about the test :0 !
I wish my mom would stop laughing and encouraging when the dog jumps because it’s going to cause me points on Tuesday..
Okay so when we finally arrived to our private lesson, we jumped right into everything. Robin went through this rubric that each dog handler team goes through during evaluation. She had us perform each task a couple of times (with rewards, which aren’t allowed during the evaluation but are allowed on therapy visits). She scored us on a scale of 1 to 4, 4 being mastered this skill without being stressed and 1 being dog is stressed and takes time to recover/doesn’t listen to handler. Danny (because he’s so AWESOME) got mostly 4’s!
^The deal with this was that she played with his ears, paws, hips, and lips to test temperment. Danny was cooperating, just letting her do her thing, but he was a bit tense, so at home I have to work on handling him more like a vet would.
^The restraining hug is very awkward. Dannyboy loves to be cuddled and picked up and held in any position, except this one. Robin sat on the floor next to him, put her arms around him like an awkward child would, and pulled him close–keeping his feet on the floor–for about ten seconds. I don’t know about you, but as a human I’d hate that, too. So I have to practice that and giving him treats as it occurs.
^The wheel chair and crutches were a piece of cake. Danny and I walked up to a dog trainer at the school whom we’ve never met, I picked him up, and then placed him onto her lap/let her pet him. He’s very good at this.
^The same woman grabbed a walker and hobbled toward us. Danny was a bit anxious about this one, though. He wasn’t growling or barking or shivering or anything, more like kind of trying to ignore the walker but failing. So we fixed this by putting treats all by the walker and having the woman feed him, too. He just hasn’t seen it before, but I can tell he’s gonna get over the walker issue by next class.
^Danny wasn’t overwhelmed by the four people walking by loudly chatting and dropping a dog dish. If anything, he wanted to go up to them (a good sign for a therapy dog!). He still wasn’t perfect, but I’m sure by next class or so he’ll have no issues with this or the group petting where these strangers lean down to pet him.
^Danny already knows the “leave it” command, as I’ve talked about before. It isn’t perfect by verbal command, though, and sometimes it requires me to physically block the forbidden item, but he gets the hint very quickly. We’re working on this at home to ensure his success on 12/10!
^Sit and Lay Down are two commands Danny perfected long ago 😀 His best “Stay” is in a Lay Down position, and from here he stays until I call him.
^Come is another one Danny is great at. He comes after I release his stay command.
^Meeting a friendly stranger is a bit unusual for Danny. Normally, Dannydog wants to go up and greet the person, or at least sniff them. But he has to sit at my left side as Robin walks around him and me and then faces me and shakes my hand. Danny did great with this, although he switched from sitting to standing, but that’s okay (apparently).
^Meeting a neutral dog is always tricky for Danny. This means he has to practice self-control and keep his attention on me. Danny and I approach Robin and her dog, with our dogs walking nicely on our left sides as usual. Then we each ask our dogs to sit. Then we shake hands and turn to the right to leave. It’s a big deal because Danny comes practically face-to-face with the other dog and has to chose to turn and follow me. I give him huge rewards as we walk away. Robin and I had to practice this with our dogs over and over because this is a biggie for Danny and can only really be practiced with her during class.
^Danny always licks a treat off a hand nicely, without teeth, so there’s no worry about this last one (:
It was a one-hour long training session, and Danny overall got a great report card! Our next class is next Wednesday! Thanks for reading, I know it was long!