Puppy class: mat and come

Tonight I had puppy class with Felix! Brad is not doing well lately, so we are having to limit his outings to once a week. Since he had his allergist yesterday, that meant he couldn’t come with me to puppy class today.

I was sad all day, but didn’t have time to think in the afternoon/evening. We had a convention planning meeting, and I had to leave early to make it to puppy class on time. I left with enough time to get settled before class started, but then I got about 5 minutes down the road and realized I forgot to bring treats!!!! So I had to turn around and go home to get them. Boy was Brad surprised when I walked back in the door!

Then it was a really stressful drive to class. Since I had left later, traffic was even worse than usual. Plus it was raining for most of the way there. But we made it in one piece.

We zipped up to the pavilion just as class was starting!

The first thing we worked on in puppy class was mat training. This helps your dog learn that when the mat is out, they should go to it and lie down. We rewarded on the mat for being on the mat, then worked on a release command to let our dogs know that they were done having to be on the mat.

Mat training worked OK with Felix, but he just wouldn’t lie down. He only really started understanding down yesterday, and only in the living room. So it just didn’t carry over to class.

The head trainer Kelly came over to talk with us, and Felix wanted to say hi. So we worked on “go visit” which is what I say when I allow my dogs to interact with someone. I say “go visit”, point at the person they can say hi to, and allow them to say hi. Felix did great at this part! Then when I saw a little lag in the greeting, I’d lure him back to me while saying “working”. Then release him to “go visit” again right away so that “working” doesn’t end all the fun.

While Felix was interacting with Kelly, he lay down so I clicked and Kelly played more with him as a reward since he was more interested in Kelly than in treats. So we had a little discussion as a class about alternate reinforcers other than the normal of just food.

Much of puppy class is listening to discussions about training techniques and problem solving things that are happening in the moment. So there was a bit of that, and while that was going on, Felix was doing wonderfully and sitting and doing watches. We got up to saying a full “one-one-thousand” before clicking and treating! He especially was into it when I had hot dogs as his reward!

We discussed how to train “come” next, but didn’t get to practice it in class. I had already started on come at home, but using it when all the dogs are out so Felix is right now more following the others to me when I say “come”. I’ll have to start working on it with him alone.

We also talked about whether or not you should teach a “leave it” cue. Kelly had some interesting ideas about using attention commands instead of teaching “leave it” the usual way. Which makes sense because when I taught Hestia leave-it, I made leave-it mean to look at me.

I need to start working soon on walking past a treat on the floor for the SDIT Manners Evaluation that is coming up in a month. So I will start working on it with just using attention cues to get past it and see how it goes.

Erin, one of our favorite trainers, came over to say hi to Felix while we were all talking, and that gave us another opportunity to work on “visit” and “working”. We did several repetitions of visit and working, and Felix did really really well (or rather the hot dog did well LOL!).

After class, I worked on “visit” and “working” with Kelly a little bit more. She says I have good timing, which I really appreciate 🙂 Then she gave me some advice on working on wheelchair heeling. She told me to do what I’ve been doing, which is one step-length at a time with Felix in heel. That perfect first step. She also said it would be a good idea not to walk him in the wheelchair if he’s not able to focus on that at the moment. Because then he’s just practicing pulling.

So we tried to one step at a time things back to the van. We got a little ways, but then dogs from the next class started arriving and they were barking up a storm. That was way too distracting, so I just popped Felix on my lap and we headed back to the van. He did a good job staying in the van while I went in to use the restroom!

The drive home was a bit difficult. It was a bit foggy and misty out, and it started to rain again. Which meant that it was darker than usual, so that it was dark by the time I got home. I managed to drive it OK, though, and we got home without incident.

I did manage to snap one picture of Felix during class. I was sitting in my wheelchair and he was sitting on the floor. He is a sable and white Japanese Chin wearing his blue and orange forest creatures PJs and a purple harness. He is on a blue quilt with snitches and broomsticks on it, and on the quilt is a rainbow mat.

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