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!