Unexpected Walmart training trip

Today I had planned to take my friend Jude to their doctor’s appointment. I figured it’d be good training for Felix to sit in a waiting room and smell the smells of a doctor’s office. But when we went to pick Jude up, they said they had someone who was picking them up afterward to take them shopping! So I didn’t need to hang around after all.

I had already ordered groceries from Walmart for a pickup order, so was planning to stop by there really quickly on the way home. I remembered how I’d been talking with my PSDP friends this morning about needing to take Felix to grocery stores, and decided we’d attempt to go inside Walmart really quickly.

Walmart tends to be a wilder place than average for service dogs, with a higher chance of encountering odd people, strange behavior, and ill-behaved dogs marked as service dogs. It is usually a store reserved for later on in training due to this. But this is a small “neighborhood market” Walmart, so I decided we’d just walk the little produce section twice and then leave. The produce section in this store is less than 1,000 square feet.

So I got Felix out of the car, and he walked across the parking lot very well, despite a car that had a really loud muffler in the parking lot. He did hesitate a second after going through the first automatic door—you know, when the smell of Walmart really hits you. I let him take it in, and then he was ready to go through the second automatic door with no problems.

He was SO GOOD in Walmart! For our first pass around the produce section, we just went around the outside of everything. He was a bit distracted by trash, fruit, and whatever else on the floor, but did a good job of looking up at me instead of investigating it when I called his name. He heeled beautifully!

He walked past several people with shopping carts no problem, though did kinda want to greet one lady. He left her and came back to heel when I called his name.

He was doing so well that the second loop around the produce section, I decided to walk up and down the aisles in the section instead of just around the outside. He was so good again! By the end of our time in the store, he was only looking at the things on the floor, then looking right back up at me before I could even get his full name out! I jackpotted that a few times!

Then we headed out of the store, and on our way out we passed a woman with really long pink dreads. She acted like she wanted to say hi to Felix, and he was interested in her, so to reward him for being good in the store, I let him say hi. This turned out to be a wonderful training opportunity because as she bent down to say hi, her dreads fell in front of her face and brushed against Felix’s face and back. He took a few steps back, confused. But when the lady kept trying to interact, he just ignored the dreads and went up to her for some loving! He did hop up on her legs, though, which wasn’t too great. But I was still riding the high from him handling her hair brushing him unexpectedly, so it didn’t dampen my mood too much!

We got back to the car, drove over to the pickup area and got our groceries and headed home. I am very happy with how my boy did today and would give him an A- overall.

Below is a picture I got of him in the carrot section. He is a sable and white Japanese Chin wearing a purple harness, looking intelligently into the camera.

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