Interesting Comments

Bailey and I traveled into the city again yesterday. I had a few things to take care of so she stayed in the car for a bit, when I was done I found a coffee shop with wifi so I could get some internetting (yes, it's totally a verb) accomplished. That coffee shop was smack dab in the middle of a shopping center. I figured "what better place to train my dog at?!"

When I got her out of the car, and got her gear on, she wasn't very interested in working. We've encountered this problem before, many, many times. This is where I've established a checklist with follow through.

  1. I check to make sure my treats are high value (zukes salmon, she only gets them when working in public)
  2. I check to make sure there aren't other dogs around (these can cause her to become stressed even when she was previously working well)
  3. I check my mental functioning level: Am I giving her my full attention?
If all of those are 'checkable' then we take a short break and I ask her to work again. Stationary behaviors have never been her strongest so I always ask for LLW first. I had to use a high rate of reinforcement as well as directional changes, but she did start working. The key with this is that when she does begin to work I reward heavily and then only work for a short while. Her release to go sniff seems to be a bigger reward in situations like this. We walked the length of the complex before she was reliably working for an extended period of time. On our second pass she was giving me wonderful heeling past people, complete with beautiful pivots. She even responded to cues for sit and down readily.

Along the way, we stopped to greet a couple people and got some very interesting comments!
As we heeled towards an elderly lady, she motioned for me to stop. She said she'd been watching us and was so impressed (why, thank you) but then proceeded to tell me that she has "a little Pomeranian and then got a big black and white dog that would have eaten the Pom if they hadn't trained it not to. It just happens with that breed." I curiously asked her what breed the big black and white dog is, she wasn't sure; just that it would have eaten the little one without training!

Another was from what appeared to be a mother and her son who were pushing groceries down the walkway. The mother asked if she could pet Bailey, to which I replied sure. Bailey wasn't so interested in being pet so she sat and faced me. This lady then asked Bailey to sit. Bailey didn't respond. She asked again. Bailey didn't respond. Rather than let the lady get frustrated, I cued sit with a signal. Bailey sat and the lady says "I knew you could do it! Now, can you shake?!" I just said no...

A third interaction involved two young men. They had watched her pivot while heeling so one says "hey, my dog can do that!" Before I can say anything, his friend bursts out laughing and is laughing so hard he can barely breathe. Then they just kept on walking, so I did too!

I've been good about working her in completely new places where I would have left her in the car previously! Training DOES work, I guess!


Robin Sallie said...

Good job to both of you!

Megan said...

It's been fun and I come home with a tired dog!