Okay, puppy!

On Monday we had puppy class, and it was fun! The two new things we worked on were the starts of stays and a release word.

While I am too busy training to take pictures of Brad during class, on Monday he set up the camera so that he was in the background while I was training. It is great to see him in pictures!

Brad smiles from the background as he looks on. Veronica smiles down at Alice, who is lying down and looking to the side.

Class started with us going around the room and reporting on exposures and enrichment. After I told about our week, one of the trainers, Erin, came to say hi to Alice. Alice really liked Erin a LOT! It is funny. She’s so calm when she greets most people, but she really wanted to play and jump around on Erin! It reminds me of Hestia with Erin’s mom Jill in our Out on the Town classes. Erin got to talk with me about Alice’s problem with always wanting to control where we are walking, and said I had the right idea to leash Alice in the house and click and treat for taking one step at a time with me.

Next we worked on the start of a stay with sits and downs. We had our puppies sit and down and then fed them treats rapidly to reward them staying in the position longer. I had never done that with Alice before, and she was really good at it! She stayed in her sit for a very long time! She stayed in her down for a while, too, but she was better at the sit.

Alice sits while Veronica is in the process of getting her a treat.

While we were doing this, some of the other puppies in class needed breaks on the grass behind us and were walking behind us. Alice did fantastically at paying attention to me when I said her name during these distractions!

Veronica gives the sit hand signal, and Alice is in the process of putting her butt down. Over Veronica’s shoulder, there is a person walking their puppy.

Then we worked on two ways to teach the release word.

The first way was to have Alice sit and put some food in a food bowl. I held that bowl out to the side, said “OK” (our release word) and then put the bowl down for Alice to get. Gradually I’d hold off on saying OK until I had lowered the bowl an inch, then 2 inches, etc. This was really hard for me because it’s important to actually pause between the word and putting the bowl down so that they learn it’s the word that’s important, not your body language. I really struggled with that one!

Alice sits while Veronica has the food bowl almost on the ground!

The second way was to have Alice sit, wait a second, then say OK, pause, then toss a treat so she has to get up to eat it. I was better at remembering the pause when I didn’t have a prop in my hand!

Alice sits while Veronica drops a treat on the ground.

While we were working on these things, the four year old little girl in class was running around having fun. This was distracting, and a great training opportunity. At one point she jumped up on the bench that was about 4 feet behind us and started dancing and singing! I was so proud of Alice for being able to focus on me while that was happening.

Veronica praises Alice as she looks at the person and dog behind us without going over to investigate.

But the most proud thing happened during the next training thing. We talked about how when there is a distraction, you can call your dog’s name, then turn around and start walking away, then treat when your dog catches up to you. To demonstrate this, Erin had to be distracting for the demo dog with the trainer. Erin stopped right in front of us and started jumping around and making a lot of really interesting noises! I immediately called Alice’s name and got her attention on me! I was SO proud! The distraction went on for a while and was repeated a few times, and Alice looked at me several times for each one! Yay!

Brad got a few pictures which are below. In them, I have my hair in a ponytail and am wearing a purple shirt and purple, pink, and blue lotus leggings. I am sitting on a blue and purple Harry Potter quilt made by my friend Elaine. Alice is a tiny sable and white Japanese Chin puppy wearing a pink plaid harness. Brad is wearing bright orange pants, a black jacket, and a black hat. He took some of the pictures with a long exposure to show the motion of my hand and Alice, so they are blurred when they’re moving.

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