Puppy class: up/down game, name game, and sit

Tonight we had our first puppy class where we brought our puppies! There will be no pictures or video in this post because Brad has yet to edit them and he has another project in the queue first. I wanted to make a blog entry before I forgot what we worked on, though, so that I would make sure I remembered everything accurately so I can refer to it later on.

We arrived 30 min early to puppy class so we’d have time to acclimate to the environment beforehand. We wanted to arrive 45 min early, but we were late leaving the house and there was a ton of traffic—more than expected at rush hour.

It was kinda chilly out, so I put Felix in his forest creatures PJs for class. I decided to bring my wheelchair in case we’d be working on walking because I need practice with him walking next to my wheelchair as well as next to me when I’m walking. But I ended up not using it the whole class!

Before class I got to talk more with trainer Erin about Alice and why she didn’t make it, and she got to meet Felix! He liked her, and I think she liked him. Then we went to our corner where we like to sit and I got out my Harry Potter blanket that Elaine made me. I like to sit on it during class and be at my dog’s level since my dogs are so small.

Before class started, I gave Felix his Himalayan Chew and he just chewed it and watched all the other dogs arrive. He did a great job not barking and just watching the commotion as people disregarded the rules and let their puppies meet and as people walked and jogged the track behind us.

When class started, we first worked on the up and down game. I know this as watches. You wait for your dog to look at you, then you click and put a treat on the floor for them. Then when they look at you again, click and treat again. It’s called up and down because your dog is looking up at you and then down to the floor to get their treat. We play this game a lot with Felix already. Almost every day for the past week we’ve been doing this outside in our front yard.

The point of this game is to teach your dog to look at you as their default behavior. Whenever they don’t know what to do, they will default to looking at you for reinforcement!

Felix really liked playing this game, but he was having a hard time finding the treats on the blanket and the floor of the pavilion is a really weird texture and the treats were getting stuck in it. So most of the time I’d just give him treats from my hand instead of the floor.

Felix liked this game so much that when trainer Kelly started talking about the next thing we were going to do, he still wanted to play it! So I continued while she talked.

We worked on name recognition next. Felix did well at this, responding to his name probably about 80% of the time which is about typical for him in a new place.

As the trainer explained what to do for the third thing we were teaching (sit), Felix was wanting to do watches again! So I just continued to do them with very small treats so he wouldn’t get full while Kelly explained what to do.

We were supposed to work on sit. Apparently Kelly said most of the other dogs in class already know sit, so we are starting out behind. I’ve not really attempted sit with Felix before as we’ve been focusing on exposures and attention cues at my trainers’ advice, and I’ve only had him 4 weeks today. She explained how to lure it and set us to try it out.

Felix is resistant to the sit it turns out! When I try to lure him into a sit, he just backs up further and further and further. It will be easy to teach him to back up if I want to LOL!

I asked Kelly for help, and when she came over to see what was happening, suddenly Felix wasn’t interested in treats anymore. He greeted her and then he acted very silly like he wanted to play with me. I think he was having displacement due to being a bit nervous. I’ve been thinking more and more about it, and I haven’t actually trained with strangers near me before. I think that was something different for Felix that he needs to get used to.

As soon as Kelly left, Felix was back to requesting watches. So we did that for a while to ease him back into the training mood, and then I tried luring him into sit more. Kelly told me to reward for any motion of the back end towards a sit, so I tried that and will continue to try to shape him into bending those back legs more and more. I never did lure him into a sit, though I did capture a few sits that he did on his own… Maybe capturing the sit will be part of what we end up doing. We’ll have to see.

Finally we all stood up and moved a little bit and did the up and down game some more in a slightly new place. Felix was great at this!

Near the end of class, the pups got to go up one at a time to investigate an enrichment area with a tunnel, a hidey spot, a ball pit, a tug toy, and a balance disc. Felix was so good at walking with me over to the area! He did a perfect heel! We got over there and he was interested in the hidey spot… until Brad dropped a light and scared him. Then Felix got interested in the agility tunnel… until Brad dropped the light again and scared him. At that point I told Brad to put the light away! Instead of going back to the tunnel or hidey spot, Felix spied a tug toy on the ground and picked it up. He then turned around and proudly pranced back to our spot holding the toy! He was done with the enrichment area and just wanted to show off what he found!

I let him carry it over to our spot and then gave it to Brad to put it back in the enrichment area.

By then class was just about over and Felix wasn’t interested in treats much so he just chewed on his Himalayan Chew for the rest of the time.

We packed up and I stopped to talk with Kelly one last time and to ask her to feed Felix some treats so he’d get used to working around her. He took treats at first, and then stopped. So Kelly ignored him for a while and moved further away. Then he got interested in her again and took treats again, then stopped again.

I really think this is in large part because he’s not used to working around strangers. All the training I’ve done with him so far has been around people he knows—but mostly with just me all alone! So we’ll have to put this in our rotation of things to work on.

Luckily traffic was much better on the way home! Hestia and Alice were happy to see us, and everyone had a good dinner and is now sleeping.

Overall I’m pleased with how class went. The only negatives were him not sitting, him not wanting to train when Kelly was too close, and Brad dropping the light. But there were so many positives! He was really into the training, he was taking treats most of the class, he was really focused on me the whole time, he was OK with little kids running and doing wild things behind us on the track, he wasn’t bothered by the other dogs, and most importantly I think he had a good time.

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