Oh boy...what a day. Last night I stayed up past my bedtime and then had coughing fits throughout the night thanks to this nasty cold that entered into my life as I was preparing for this trip (go figure!).
We arrived a few minutes early to allow Dublin to run free before class started to burn off any "extra" energy. Judd took him out to the fenced area and also to the bathroom. Judd decided to take Jacey to Walmart to pick up a few items that we were needing. They also went for a drive through town and got back towards the end of the morning session. Jacey did not want to go to the play area, but preferred begging me for our backpack of stuff. It turned into a meltdown, seeing that there was nothing in the backpack for Jacey besides her water, graham crackers and fruit snacks. I eventually took Jacey over to the play area and held her. She wanted a deep pressure hug but as usual, I wasn't allowed to sit down and give it to her...so I stood and held her. It was nice to snuggle her as our other classmates worked. I heard most of what was going on even standing in the play area.
We reviewed our commands from the first day - "sit", "down", and "free". We continue to increase the amount of time we expect Dublin to stay in the command given. We added "jump" and "heel" to the list of our commands. Like I said yesterday, Dublin made me look like a pro with heel. There were only a few times that I had to correct him. I'm definitely learning about the times to praise and when to correct him. As other class members went to try out "jump" with their dog, I thought, "Oh, Dublin will get this one." Maybe not. When walking towards the table and giving the command, he would instead walk to the side of the table to where he wasn't going to run into and wouldn't have to jump up. He did this three times. Jeremy, the head trainer, had to up Dublins reward from dry dog food to a Beggin' Strip. It worked. Dublin jumped up on the table.
We will use the command "jump" when wanting Dublin to get on the bed with Jacey or in the car, etc. We are not going to allow him on any furniture other than Jacey's bed. I am definitely learning from watching others in the class. Jeremy will point out different things for us to observe as someone is working their dog or tell us what just happened and what we need to do. I was the spotlight on one of these moments when I put Dublin in a down and he shortly jumped back up to a "sit". I corrected properly but when giving the command for "down" again, I had a treat in my fingers that Dublin was sniffing to death. I didn't give him the treat but thought that I'd better verbally praise him since I didn't want to tease him with the treat. I guess when you have corrected your dog for disobeying, you do NOT give praise or treats...my bad! Hey, at least I'm learning and we still have nine days for perfecting (or something close to it) the things I am being taught! :o)
I took a quick spin around "4 Paws Market" with a shopping cart, simply walking around the room with the cart and having Dublin "heel". He did great with heeling and turning both left and right with the shopping cart.
We also began to add a few distractions for our dogs when they were given a command. I told Dublin to sit(no need to say "stay" because they are supposed to stay in that command indefinitely until you "free" them). Once he was sitting, I walked around behind him clapping my hands or snapping my fingers to see if he would break the command. He did very well with it. We also stepped over our dogs a few times and then would praise them for staying "down". We also tossed treats out away from our dogs to see if they would break their command. If they didn't we praised them and gave them a different treat other than the one on the floor. Jeremy is a great teacher and explained everything very well as to why we do it the way we do it!
I must say that Sushi, a golden retriever in the class was hilarious! Apparently she LOVES tennis balls. It was quite the challenge for her new handlers to keep her in her "sit" or "down" as a ball was bounced nearby. Jeremy took over to show exactly what should be done when the dog breaks a command. Jessa, a 4 Paws trainer, began to bounce the ball and you could see Sushi's head go up and down with the ball. The closer the ball came to her the more temptation there was to disobey. Jeremy told them that if they can master her staying where she is told with a ball rolling or bouncing by her, that going to the mall will be a piece of cake for them. :o) Sushi was so tormented by watching that ball bounce knowing that she wasn't allowed to play with it right then. I wonder what will be the funny thing my classmates think of for Dublin as I did with Sushi in this situation.
Another thing we did was change locations for where we were standing when giving our dog a command. I would place Dublin in a sit and walk behind him. I would then give him the command for "down" and he was very good about listening and paying attention to me. By doing this, it allows our dogs to learn that "sit" and "down" and other commands mean the same thing and should be done no matter where we are standing in relationship to the dog. This teaches allows Dublin to know that I expect the same thing from him no matter where I may be in the house. He did really well with this and always wanted to turn and face me as he moved to his new position. It was great to see that he is really paying attention to me!
Jeremy also went over the difference between "no" and "off". You would think that you could use them interchangeably but you can't! When giving the command "no", I am telling Dublin that this is a behavior that I do not want...EVER. For example, jumping on people. This is never allowed so if Dublin does this behavior I am to correct him with his training collar and a "no". "Off" is used for something that your dog may normally be allowed to do but at that moment is not allowed. For example, we will allow Dublin on Jacey's bed at bedtime to sleep with her but I may not want him on at any other time. I would use the command "off". I may also use this command if I want Dublin to jump down out of the car. I could also use the word "free" for this. This was a very good thing to learn as I don't want to confuse Dublin as to what my expectations are of him.
Jacey again fed Dublin his dinner, one tossed handful at a time. She then got to pour his water into his water bowl. Jacey enjoys these tasks very much. I know that there was a lot more discussed in class, but at this moment my brain and body want to shut down for the night. I'm pooped! I now understand what previous classes mean when they say they were drained by the end of the day, both physically and mentally!!! I would so love to go climb into bed right now (8:15) and not see the light of day until tomorrow morning. BUT....I know that I need to go practice with Dublin obeying commands with distractions so that I may feel confident with his ability to listen to and obey me - especially if we are going to the mall on Friday. Eeeek!
Today has been a great day filled with lots of information that empowers me to be Dublin's capable handler. I can't wait to see what I will look like next Friday as we graduate with Dublin, the Service Dog. (Hopefully Jeremy won't fail me!!!) Until tomorrow...enjoy!