Alice’s Puppy STAR start

Last Tuesday (before the Control Unleashed class where she was uncomfortable), Alice had her first Puppy STAR training class at the Charlotte Dog Training Club. I know that we already know everything that will be taught in the class, but I am taking the class anyway to get experience working on these things around other dogs, perfecting the cues, and hopefully getting some exposures of walking on different things (the last instructors I had for puppy STAR with Hestia were really big on walking on all sorts of different surfaces).

I was very proud of Alice walking into the building—she walked right into an unfamiliar place with no hesitation and ignored all the dogs all around her. We made our way to the ring and sat down. I sat on the floor on my Harry Potter blanket Elaine made for me. It is just so much easier to train a small dog sitting on the floor!

Alice looking up at Veronica while Veronica listens to the instructor.

We have two instructors: Griffin and Anne. Griffin has a Golden as the demo dog, and there are three Goldens in the class! Brad got a picture of all 4 Goldens out together at the same time.

The four Goldens

We started out class working on marker loading. I’ve used a clicker almost exclusively with Alice, so I used this opportunity to load the word “Yes!”. Alice was very happy to just get a bunch of treats for free LOL!

Alice looking at Veronica and Veronica looking back at Alice.

Griffin came over to talk with us during this and complimented Alice on her engagement with me, which made me very very happy! Brad noticed in the pictures that he gave us a lot of thumbs ups, once even a double thumbs up!

Griffin giving us a double thumbs up while talking with us. Anne is in the background talking with another attendee.

The second thing we worked on was attention. We didn’t use a cue, just shaped for attention. The way we did this was to stand with our arms out at our sides and wait for our dog to look at us in the face. When they did, click and treat. This is very old hat for Alice, so instead of just doing the basics, I took it up a notch and worked on duration.

Veronica standing with her arms straight out and Alice looking up at her. Veronica has the shoulder leash looped around her neck.

Even though I use attention all the time with Alice, I’ve never worked on duration before for some reason. So I started delaying the click for a half a second before treating, then a second, then a second and a half, etc. We got up to solid attention for 3 seconds during the course of training, which I was very happy with.

Alice was much happier being on the blanket while looking up at me as I held my arms out.

Griffin came over during this and again complimented me and said I was advanced for the class, which again made me happy. I told him about her being a service dog in training, which he said made sense with her training.

Griffin gives us another thumbs up!

The last thing we did during class was to work on the name cue. Griffin wanted us to call our dog’s name and back up to encourage them to come to us, then reward. But as I’ve experienced, this method does not work for Alice. She has no clue what me backing up means and is not at all inclined to follow me. She is more of the type of dog who moves because she feels there is a reason to move, not just randomly.

So I had a choice, I could work on the come command specifically, or I could work on what I want when I call Alice’s name—for her to look at me. I chose to work on the latter.

Veronica reaching down to give a treat to Alice for looking in response to her name.

We did several repetitions, but I noticed that she was getting less and less interested in what was going on. So I decided to just stop there and hang out for the rest of class.

Alice sitting and looking at Veronica at the end of class.

When we left the building, she peed the instant we got outside. I mean right outside the door. So I guess she was needing to go badly and just held it! I am very happy that she is so good at her potty training!

I am looking forward to class Tuesday and seeing how Alice does and what we work on!

Pictures are below. In them Alice is a tiny sable and white Japanese Chin. I have my long brown hair in a ponytail and am wearing pink dog and flower leggings and a pink sweater.

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