Thursday, December 2, 2010

Day 3 of Training at 4 Paws

I thought I was pooped yesterday...I'm exhausted today!  Judd and I waited for Jacey's bedtime to finally get here and I was soooo ready to just crawl into bed.  Since Jacey is in bed but not asleep yet, I figured I'd better get this done before I fall over dead!  :o)

Today was yet another amazing day.  We split our class into two groups yesterday for tracking.  I opted to go for the first session at 9:30 am so we wouldn't have to fight Jacey on getting back in the car and going again.  I figured she might be a little bit mellow more towards the early morning than the 11 am session when she might start getting hungry. 

We followed another family to the park that we would be doing our tracking at and waited for the first session families to all arrive.  When it came time for Jacey to go and hide, I was a bit nervous on how she would do with going for a "walk" with Dad and Christie (she is the trainer that Dublin has been tracking).  She has been blowing our minds with how good she has been doing things that are not part of her normal routine.  She graciously held Daddy's hand and went off to hide.  Jeremy and Jessa suited Dublin up in a harness for tracking and allowed him a little more time to watch the direction they went. 

Tracking is a very interesting I am learning!  The dog's nose has approximately 125 million olfactory cells to a humans only 5 million olfactory cells.  Essentially it is like smelling a candle over and over.  Eventually you aren't able to smell it in approximately a minute because your olfactory cells are filled up.  You have to move away from the candle momentarily to clean out your cells to be able to smell it again.  So, the dog has the ability of sniffing a scent for a much longer period of time.  They train the dogs to track using scent obtained from our skin cells that shed constantly.  As you shed the skin cells they actually go up in the air above you, I believe, about two feet before falling like snow down to the ground.  These cells naturally don't fall directly back on the path that the individual took considering the air is moving.  Needless to say, the dog will not follow the exact path or trail that your child took to find where they are at.  They follow the path of the skin cells and where they landed on the ground.  The longer the skin cells are on the ground, the "cooler" they get.  It's like a game of playing "Hot or Cold."  The dog sniffs the cells and can tell the ones that are warmer (or more recently dropped) and will follow that trail.  As the dog goes about smelling, they naturally make an S shape over and over again as they go from warm to cold smelling the skin cells.

On the way to tracking...

I don't know if I'm explaining this very well, but tracking is a very intriguing thing these dogs do!  I would say it took longer for Judd, Jacey, and Christy to go hide than it did for Dublin to find them.  Jeremy was kind and did not sprint with Dublin as my belly is bulging a bit these days and I find running a tad bit difficult!  :o)  Dublin was tracking not Jacey but Christy, because that is who he has been trained to track.  What we are doing is adding Jacey's scent to the mix and will eventually take Christy out of the track entirely, leaving Jacey's scent the only constant.  This doesn't mean that we will just allow her to run off and hope that Dublin finds her.  But we will have a different adult go with her to hide each time so that Jacey's scent is the only constant in the scent equation.

Dublin found Jacey on the track!!!

After all of the first session families had their chance at having their dog track, we went back to the 4 Paws facility for more training indoors.  We met with Jennifer, who is the next down from Jeremy in training...I believe her title is "Head Trainer" whereas Jeremy's is "Executive Trainer" or something to that effect!  :o) 

Anyhew, Jennifer went over distractions again while the dogs are in "sit" or "down".  We also practiced, one at a time, heeling and walking around the other dogs that were in a "down".  We then moved on to dropping the leash and walking to the other side of the room.  We wanted to make sure that our dogs obeyed their command of "down", which Dublin did fantastic with.  It is amazing to see how he is really starting to listen to my commands well...granted, he had a moment in class where I think he just wanted to lay there and not get up. 

Jacey came and sat next to Dad while she colored with a pen.

Jennifer teaching us about corrections and adding distractions.
After lunch, Jennifer talked of the command "under" and how to use it.  This will be done when we are in public and need the dog out of the way.  For example, when we go out to a restaurant, we can't exactly have Dublin laying in the aisle tripping people.  So I will give him the command "under" and point under the table and toss a treat (for now) under the table.  Once he is finished eating the treat, I will then give him the command "down" where he should remain until given the "heel" command.  We were told we could use "free" during class to practice but we never want to use it in public because it basically means the dog is free to do whatever, which is not the case when in public.  They also showed how we need to put our hand on the front shoulders and apply a small amount of pressure to keep the dog doing what it naturally wants to do - ShAkE!  No one wants a dog shaking next to their dinner plates!  :o)

I knew it had been a day when Jeremy began talking about the details of tracking and how it all worked.  I got a little too comfortable on the couch and would have loved to just close my eyes...just a little.  :o)  I resisted but Judd didn't.  I learned this when I heard him start to softly snore.  Yep, not good in class!  I got his attention and he was a little better about being alert!  :o) 

You can tell that Jacey was done.  Pretty sleepy since she got up at 6 am.

We had our dogs fitted with their harnesses and Jacey was given a short two foot leash for helping "walk" Dublin.  It attaches to his harness so it doesn't interfere with what I am doing with the actual leash.  She was pretty cute walking around the room holding onto it, helping Daddy walk Dublin.

The day went quickly and I'm looking forward to another morning of tracking.  We were told that it is important to go on as many tracks as possible, including other peoples, so that we can learn the body language the dog gives with the head snaps and the S shape tracking.  This way, we will truly know what to expect when we are in charge of the leash on a real track.  Apparently, we may be going to the mall tomorrow.  We just started all this training on Tuesday afternoon, and I'm a bit nervous about going to the mall.  Dublin is very good about following my commands but I fear what the mall will do for his attention being on me.  I guess we'll find out soon enough!

Well, it is only eight o'clock here but the thought of crawling into bed has already crossed my mind many times!  Until tomorrow...which hopefully goes smoothly... 

Good Night from Judd, Jacey and me!


  1. You're doing great!

    I know this is so easy for me to say from the comfort of my living room, but don't doubt the process. It's just like childbirth. (work with me here) You're scared to death, you have no idea how it's gonna happen, and you can't imagine it, but somehow you know it will.

    They take you to a mall for a reason. Go with it. ;) We all know what happens if you fight childbirth.

  2. It sounds amazing! We have a dog with one of the autistic kids at our charter school. He just got here. I wonder if he's from the same program!

  3. What kind of corrections do they teach? Ie when the dog sits up from a down?