Today we had our Service Dogs on the Town class. Barbara and Tripper were the only students today, and we had a great time! Tripper is now 11 months old, boy how the time flies!
Hestia did much better this class. She is getting more used to working around Tripper and so less distracted by him, which is great. Her heel work was suffering today a bit, though. I ended up going through a whole Blue Stix treat!
Tripper was great this class! I can tell he and Barbara have been working together between classes. We mostly worked on walking nicely in the store and recovering from distractions. We started off near the purses and did small loops around the accessories. Then we went near some clothing and hung out while people (and Hestia!) passed by Tripper.
Tripper is getting to the point where when there is a distraction, he sometimes looks, and then on his own he remembers he is supposed to look at Barbara to get a treat! It is such a joy to see the gears working so well in his head!
To end the class, we decided to take a full loop around the store. There were people walking by us with interesting things in their carts, little kids, and even an entire display of dog treats right there sticking out into the aisle. Tripper did very well. Then on our way out of the store, we worked on him walking right past Hestia a few times– he didn’t even look at her! I was so proud!
One thing Brad noticed in watching the video of Tripper that we took is that his butt tends to swing out when he’s getting lots of treats, so we’re going to work on the pocket hand (or lotus hand) method of delivering treats next time to swing that butt right back in! Here’s a video I made about the pocket hand: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_hS7_Y8g3c
When we left the store, we found that someone had overparked… In other words, their car was in the striped section next to the van accessible wheelchair space (called an “access aisle”). We got pictures of Brad trying to get in and out of the van with this person’s car in the way. Luckily he was able to squeeze by, but it was a very very tight squeeze!
Then we headed to Panera, where I challenged Barbara and Tripper some more. Normally their friend Mick gets them a smoothie while they settle at a table. This time, Barbara ordered her own smoothie! Tripper was very good while she ordered. He lay there very well for almost the whole time. However, once while Barbara was paying, a lady came up behind her and distracted him. But when Barbara called him, he went right back to Barbara.
We hung out and Brad was a lot more talkative this time. He seemed to have more energy than usual and was full of good training advice! We talked a lot about reinforcing with a variety of reward levels– sometimes high value treats, sometimes low value treats, sometimes praise or a combo. We talked about how to switch it up and build that desire for working and the fun of not knowing what reward was going to come next.
We also talked about a lot of other general service dog stuff. Barbara and I have a lot in common, so it was a lot of fun to talk about these things. On our way home, there was a feature on NPR about office hours for students in college, and Brad and I joked that our time with Barbara in Panera was like office hours– and office hours were always one of my favorite teaching times!
Next time I think Tripper is ready to try a new store!
Brad got some really good pictures. I am a woman with long brown curly hair, and I am wearing a yellow ruffled dress. Hestia is a small black and white dog with a smushed nose, and is wearing a yellow and black Harry Potter Hufflepuff house vest. Brad is in a powerchair and is wearing a white linen suit, a red sun on his lapel (to signify the extreme heat!), a black shirt with tiny herringbone accents, a tie with red and black leafy vines on a white background, a black fedora hat, and a gold sun pin in the hat. Barbara is wearing a blue and white dress. Tripper is a Golden Retriever and has on a blue service dog vest. Mick is pushing Barbara’s wheelchair, has long hair, and is wearing a white shirt.