Sporting good Golden-Chin training

On Tuesday we met up with my friend Sabrina, her SDIT (service dog in training) Indy, and her husband Russ! Alice had never met them before, so I was excited to see how she’d do working so closely around an unfamiliar dog.

A quick summary is that she did fantastic, and I am so proud!

We picked Tuesday to meet because it was supposed to have great weather, but on the way over to Academy Sports, it was rainy and chilly! Sabrina was running a little late, so we stood under the overhang for a while and were really worried about the weather because we had planned to eat outdoors afterward.

While we were out there, I was standing in front of a sign with people exercising, so Brad told me to do something sporty for a picture. I acted like I was in the process of running or working out or something odd, and Alice looked at me like I was really odd LOL! Brad caught it in a picture.

Veronica poses sportily while Alice looks confused.

He also got a picture of Alice in one of the kayaks that were outside the store, which Brad edited to make it look like Alice was on the water at sunset in the kayak.

Alice in a kayak

When Sabrina arrived, Alice did great! She was interested in Indy, but I was able to retain her focus pretty dang well. Indy did a good job, too.

Alice and Indy do a good job of not interacting with each other, or with the pet dog walking behind us in the photo.

We headed inside the store and Alice walked through the doors with zero hesitation (she hasn’t been to this pet-friendly store before).

Veronica and Alice walk through the doors, while Sabrina, Indy, and Russ follow behind

Just off to the side when we entered there was an open area with a little jeep for kids to drive. Since it is a pet friendly store, I figured it’d be OK to put Alice in the driver’s seat of the jeep. It was SO cute! She just hung out there sitting in the driver’s seat with her paws up on the steering wheel!

Alice driving the jeep!

Sabrina and Indy led us down the main aisle, and Alice was so good! She didn’t stop or hesitate at all in the main aisle of the store.

Russ pushes Sabrina as Indy heels next to her. Behind them, Veronica bends down to give Alice a treat.

Then we went down a narrow side aisle. Alice paused at the top of the aisle, but then made it down without a problem. At the end of the aisle a man was getting a large box off a shelf, and that stymied Alice for only a few seconds before she was able to walk on by.

Alice in perfect heel comes out of the end of an aisle with Veronica. You can see Sabrina, Indy, and Russ behind.

While Sabrina and Russ looked at some shoes and socks, I picked Alice up for a great photo opportunity!

Veronica holds tiny Alice and smiles hugely under her mask in the shoe section

Then we were hanging out there and a little boy came up and was excited to see Alice. We’ve been talking on the listserv lately about Premack training, which involves using a behavior the dog wants to do as a reward for doing something you’ve asked them to. So I had Alice sit and look at me, then I released her to say hello to the boy. He was so happy to say hi to her, and she to him!

The little boy reaches his hand way high in the air in the process of preparing to pet Alice
The little boy kneels down to say hello to Alice, and she is cuddling up to him with her head in his lap

Next Indy had a little closeup with the camera, and of course Alice wanted her own close up (which was further away since she is down so far on the ground!)

Indy is ready for her closeup!
Shot from above, Alice looks up into the camera and smiles while sitting on a giant blue sign on the floor

We continued around the store, and again Alice did wonderfully! She actually started to pull a little bit, which is pretty rare! I was just happy she wasn’t stopping, so I didn’t do any training to stop her pulling except for calling her name for attention frequently.

Sabrina with Indy and Veronica with Alice working on heeling down the main aisle of the store

We saw another man that Alice seemed to really want to visit with, so we did Premack training again! Alice did a great job paying attention to me, and then greeting the man. She really loves getting to say hello to people!

A man says hello to Alice

Brad got some great shots of us walking past some fishing rods on the way to checkout!

Alice heels perfectly as she and Veronica walk past some bright green fishing rods
Indy gets scritches from Sabrina as they pass the fishing rods

Sabrina wanted to buy some socks, so I took advantage of that to work on Alice with counters. She’s had some trouble approaching counters recently. These counters were sideways, so she didn’t have to walk straight up to them, but could approach obliquely. This worked much better. We practiced with an empty counter and Alice did really well.

Veronica directs Alice to get closer to the counter

Then we waited in line (lines are so confusing for dogs!) and walked past the working checkout counter, too!

Sabrina and Indy are in line, followed by Veronica and Alice

The only time in the store Alice wasn’t really great was between the checkout counter and the door to leave. It was narrow and very crowded with people and carts. Alice balked a little, and since we had been in the store so long I decided not to push her. So I just carried her out of the store.

Brad reminded me as we got in the car that Alice had been whining a few times while in the store. I have bad hearing and didn’t really follow what he was saying in the store, so I didn’t know. He couldn’t determine any specific reason she was whining, and her body language didn’t seem especially stressed. But it’s something to work on—Brad and I are going to tag-team this in the future and have Alice do de-stressing behaviors or remove a stressor when we need to.

Next we headed to Charanda’s, which is a Mexican place with an outdoor patio. Luckily the weather cleared up and the sun had started to shine by the time we got there! Alice pooped on the lawn near the restaurant’s parking lot, so maybe having to go was why she was whining?

I decided that walking through the restaurant to the patio would be unnecessary/counterproductive stress for little Alice after our longer-than-expected store outing, so I carried her. We got to our table and got situated and she did really well!

This was the 5th time Alice has been there while I’ve eaten away from the house. When we’re at home and I eat, she lies on my lap and relaxes. But the previous 4 times we’ve been out and I’ve eaten, she’s been antsy and a little anxious and didn’t want to relax and lie down while I ate.

As Indy gets situated under the table, Alice looks over her shoulder at the camera while on Veronica’s lap

It started out similarly, with her not wanting to lie down while we munched on chips and salsa. I figured I’d let her sit or stand during that so long as she wasn’t sniffing any food (she wasn’t!) to let her get acclimated. When our food arrived, she lay right down and relaxed excellently! I was so proud! I didn’t even need to leave a hand down there for security, I was able to eat with both hands! I didn’t attempt a napkin, though, as I didn’t want to push it. We’ve just started working on napkins on her during meals at home.

Indy is settled under the table and Alice relaxes on Veronica’s lap

We hung out there for a long while, chatting and chomping. It was so great to hang out with Sabrina and Russ! We had a lot to talk about and it was an awesome time. We were sad when it was time to go, but Alice had had a long day so we figured we shouldn’t push her until she was ready to go.

Brad got some really awesome pictures! They are below. In them, I am wearing my Japanese Chin leggings and a pink shirt. I have my hair in a ponytail and am wearing a galaxy mask. Alice is a tiny sable and white Japanese Chin wearing a purple SDIT harness. Brad is wearing lavender pants, a white dress shirt with a tie with purples and blues, and a blue sweater with a purple mask and a grey hat. Sabrina is wearing a jean jacket and is using a blue manual wheelchair. Indy is a Golden wearing a pink and pastel SDIT vest. Russ is wearing a grey t-shirt.

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