Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Aladdin's Weekend Outings

SSD Aladdin has returned to advanced training after being out on medical leave. (He and two of his brothers, SSD Phillip and Caspian, had had surgery to correct Cauda Equina Syndrome.) He will spend his weekdays at the SSD kennel learning service dog skills, and he may eventually be placed with a partner and become a working service dogs. On weekends, though, he still goes home with his puppy raiser.

Because of PawsAbilities weekend, Aladdin and the other dogs had a short week at the kennel. They returned home to their puppy raisers for an extended weekend while we prepared for the big event.

For the past month or so, Aladdin's puppy raisers have been getting him ready to return to advanced training. Cindy, his puppy raiser, has been taking him on several outings to practice loose leash walking and behaviors in public.

Their first trip was to the grocery store. Because of his surgery, it had been a little while since Aladdin went out in public, and this first trip was very short. As soon as they walked through the door, he grew very stressed. Cindy took him to a quiet corner of the store and simply worked on his attention to her, an exercise to calm him and help him focus. After a few minutes, though, she realized he was still stressed, so they went home.

One week later, Cindy took him out in public again. This time, they went to PetSmart, which is a very challenging outing for him. But after a little while, he did great! When they first got to the store, Aladdin didn't want to pay attention to Cindy at all. He loves to play with other dogs, so he was very distracted. Cindy sat outside on the pavement with him, and then they slowly worked their way through the door. They avoided the treat aisle because Aladdin tries to pick out all the treats he thinks he should have. He showed no signs of stress until they had been working inside for 10 minutes. Then Cindy moved him to a quiet corner and working on attention to calm and focus him. Soon, he was doing very well!

For his next outing, they went to the movie theater in the mall! Aladdin did great in the mall! In order to get to the theater, they had to ride a glass elevator. At first, he wasn't too keen on the elevator, but Cindy put him in a down and gave him lots of treats, which helped a lot. Once inside the theater, he settled right down and made himself comfortable. About an hour into the movie, he began to get restless, so Cindy took him out for a break. When they returned to the movie, he went right back to sleep. In the movie, there was a loud gun shot, which made Cindy and her daughter jump, but Aladdin kept right on sleeping! Wonderful!

For the next several months, Aladdin will be in advanced training. We'll post more about his weekend outings with his puppy raisers in the coming weeks.

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