(Pictures and video below.) We had such a good time in class tonight! Alice was in heat, so she was wearing purple panties with her purple service dog in training harness. Alice does have other non-working harnesses, but she has outgrown two of them and is not super comfortable in the third. While we wait for a new non-working harness to arrive, we’re just having to use the service dog in training harness.
We sat next to Skyler and Korra again, which was really fun!
We started off with mat training and rewarding breathing. Alice was a little antsy, so didn’t do as well at this as she did last time. Part of it might be her panties—I think she is distracted by wearing them. Luckily that issue will be over soon!
Next we worked on three games—the up-and-down game, the ping-pong game, and the 3-step game. All three of these are designed to help your dog communicate to you when they’re comfortable with a situation.
In them, you wait for your dog to look at you, and then you do one of three things for the three games. Either you place a treat on the floor in front of you (up-and-down game), or you place a treat to your right, and then the next time to your left (ping-pong game), or you take three steps (3-step game).
The idea behind this is that if your dog is worried at all about their environment, they will not be likely to offer the eye contact. So if they do, you know they are comfortable. If they don’t, then you know you need to back up and give them some space or time to acclimate to their environment.
This is slightly different from a barometer behavior. Barometer behaviors are things we ask our dogs to do when they are in a new situation to gauge if they are ready to work and unstressed enough to pay attention. In service dog training, we often talk about using barometer behaviors to judge if our dogs are ready to go into a store and work.
These games rely on the offered behavior of a watch instead of the requested behavior in a barometer behavior. So even if my barometer behavior is a watch, it’s different in these games because the watch is offered whereas in the barometer behavior, the watch is requested.
This enables your dog to better communicate to you if they are comfortable where they are, or in the case of the 3-step game, if they are comfortable enough to move forward.
We did the up-and-down and ping-pong games in our places, but then took turns two at a time doing the 3-step game. Brad got a little video of Alice and me doing the three-step game before we got some very important feedback. We needed to shorten up on the leash so that it wasn’t free rein, that Alice knew she was supposed to be with me and working. And we needed to place the treat on the ground so it was obvious where the treat was instead of turning every treat-drop into the find-it game.
Next we worked on whiplash, which is where you call your dog’s name and then drop a treat behind them. Then when they are eating that treat, you call their name and drop a treat behind them again. It is important to move with your dog as you call their name instead of just standing there!
We got out some plastic gates and worked on whiplash going back and forth through the space in the gates.
At the same time, we worked on going into a crate and then coming out and around to the side to the dog’s person.
I did the crate thing first. While Alice loves her crates at home, they have cushy beds in them and aren’t giant LOL! This crate was a huge crate for Alice and it didn’t have anything cushy in it. So she didn’t want to go in it. In fact, she was a little uncomfortable to be close to it. So while the trainer and I talked about what I can work on at home with this, I did up-and-down and ping-pong with Alice so that she could get more comfortable being around the crate.
By the time it was my turn to walk Alice back and forth through the gates, she was pretty full and tired of training. I had started class using chicken, and had switched to hot dogs during the 3-step training because she was bored of chicken. I was able to revive some interest in training by switching back to chicken while walking through the gates, but we decided after just a few repetitions that Alice was pretty much done.
We hung around after class a bit to talk with Skyler. It’s really fun having them in class with us!
Too bad next week we already have a service dogs on the town mall outing scheduled for that day. Even though they’re at different times, I think it might be too much for Alice and me to go to both. We’ll have to see how I’m feeling when class time rolls around I think.
Brad didn’t take any pictures with his camera, as he is trying to conserve energy with his recent loss of function. I did ask him to take a couple of pics with my cell phone, and he outdid himself with a handful of pics and a video! Unfortunately when I took my cell phone out to hand it to him, I got hot dog juice on the lens, so the lights are all blurred by oil on the lens 🙁 You can still make out what is happening, though!
In the pics, I am wearing pink dog leggings and a pink shirt with my hair in a ponytail. I have a pink mask on, as well. Alice is a sable and white tiny Japanese Chin puppy wearing purple panties and a purple service dog in training harness.