On Friday Alice took her SDIT Manners Evaluation! This is a test to determine if she’s ready to be a service dog in training. Our friend Scarlet gave the test (they are often my training assistant for our service dog training meetups), and Skyler with Korra were the distraction dog team.
I had been nervous about the test because of Alice’s tendency to stop and observe in the middle of walking somewhere. But we’ve been doing a lot of practicing walking now that my foot is better.
We picked Scarlet up, so they saw Alice get in and out of the car and that part wasn’t videotaped. When we got to Michaels, I gave Alice a potty break. Then we started the test!
The first thing on the test is waiting calmly for 5 minutes. During this time, someone needs to jog quickly past the dog. We combined this with the last test item, which is waiting outside a store.
Alice did pretty well with the waiting, though she was confused why we weren’t going inside the store! Several times she wanted to follow people inside the store. But she mostly just hung around. I didn’t make her stay in one place, so she hung out generally in front of me. A couple of times she got distracted by Korra and once almost tried to initiate play, but I was able to redirect her. Brad was the person “jogging” by, but I thought he was about to hit her with his wheelchair! We also got to see shopping carts going past.
When it was finally time to go inside, Alice handled the entrance doors like a champ! We stood in the front of the store for a minute gathering ourselves, and while doing so, an employee pushed several carts right past us! Alice was great!
Next we walked to a point in the middle of the store near the artificial flowers. Alice did great with this walking, though it’s hard to see in the video because Brad was on the other side of a divided aisle so you only get glimpses of Alice walking perfectly and checking in with me.
When we got to a less crowded area, the first thing Scarlet did was drop keys on the floor. Alice jumped, then was curious, then held back from that area. She was definitely nervous about going back to the area where the keys had been dropped. I would have given her a 3 out of 5 on that part of the test if I had been grading her.
Up next was the hardest part of the test—walking a path designated by Scarlet that involved a left and a right turn. At first Alice was hesitant and didn’t want to start walking. She took a long pause, but eventually I was able to get her to refocus with me and start walking. We walked down an aisle, around a display, and down another aisle. We had to walk past pieces of fake plants on the ground and Alice didn’t even try to sniff them! She did hesitate some while walking the path, hence her score of 3.
In that aisle, Alice demonstrated her sit and come. I would have given her a 3 on the come command as she came really slowly and needed encouragement from me to come. She’s been weak on come in the past, so that didn’t really surprise me too much. It’s one we’ve been focusing on in our training.
Next I put a piece of kibble on the floor and had Alice walk past it. She did a great job ignoring the kibble, but had problems with inertia again LOL! She stopped right next to the kibble and paused, then eventually moved on.
We then did the supervised separation, where Alice did great! She did look for me when I was gone, but remained composed.
While we were in the aisle talking, Korra walked RIGHT past Alice. Like inches away! Alice didn’t hold a stay, but she also didn’t try to engage Korra. I was very pleased!
That left one last test item—petting by a friendly stranger. I didn’t want anyone without a mask on to pet Alice for safety’s sake, and almost everyone in the store was unmasked! So we headed out of the store. On the way, Alice was distracted by some plastic wrap on the floor and took a pause while turning down the main aisle. Other than that, she was pretty good.
When we got outside we had to wait for a suitable person to come by to pet her. A few people walked by but seemed too busy or uninterested. A woman came by and I asked her to pet Alice. Unfortunately she wasn’t really a dog person and tried to pat Alice on the top of her head cluelessly! Alice stepped back a step and tried to sniff the woman’s hand as she was patting Alice on the head.
I wasn’t pleased with that interaction, so we hung out and waited for someone else to come along. This time a man approached and smiled at Alice. I took this as a good sign, so asked him if he wanted to pet her. He bent over and roughly pet her on her chin. She loved it! That I was much happier with.
So Alice passed! I brought her “in training” patches with me, and velcroed them onto her vest and celebrated!
Since the whole thing took less than a half hour, we decided to relax afterward by getting some coffee at a nearby bookstore with an outdoor patio.
It was Alice’s first time in a no-pet store! She did pretty well! I carried her at first because I didn’t know how crowded it would be or anything. But it was empty, so I set her down. She did a great job waiting in line, but when it was time to approach the counter, she didn’t want to. Luckily we were the only people there, so I just ordered and paid with her standing about 4 feet behind me. We’ll have to work on approaching counters!
We sat outside and had a great time hanging out, talking, and laughing. I got kinda animated and told a lot of stories—which Brad got pictures of! It was a lot of fun.
Below is the video, and below that pictures (mostly of after the evaluation). In them, I am a heavyset woman with long brown wavy hair wearing a pink top and Japanese Chin leggings with a purple mask. Alice is a tiny sable and white Japanese Chin wearing a purple harness. Scarlet is wearing a multicolored crochet top, black skirt, and black mask, and is using a purple wheelchair. Skyler has red hair and is wearing a grey top, black pants, and a black mask. Korra is a sable Standard Poodle working in just a head collar (no vest).