Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Tempting Puppy Class

All of our puppy raisers came to puppy class with their dog in training, but this time, they didn't work with that dog in class. Halfway through puppy class, we had all of our raisers switch dogs. This was good practice for both the raisers and the dogs. The dogs had to learn to work with a new handler, and the raisers had to learn to communicate with another dog, and usually that dog was very different than their own dog. Both the dogs and puppy raisers improved their skills.

After switching dogs, we had everyone practice loose leash walking. Even though the dogs were working with different handlers, they did great! Watch the video of SSD Zappa, Topaz, Nubble and Yukon walk beside different handlers.

"Leave it" ranks right up there with loose leash walking when it comes to important service dog skills. It can be used to cue the dog to ignore a number of things, including food, people, other animals and objects. At puppy class, we had our puppy raisers practice "leave it" with their new dogs. To make it interesting, we played a version of Temptation Tower, the newest Dog Olympic Game!

We gave each raiser a four dog biscuits, and they had one minute to build a tower and have their dog practice leave it. At the end of the minute, we gave everyone four more biscuits. They rebuilt their tower. Each time we increased the difficulty for the dogs by adding more biscuits, but the dogs were doing so well that we had to make it even more challenging. We had our raisers build a tower, then stand up, all while their dog remained in a down-stay. When the dogs succeeded at that, we had our raisers not only stand up, but also walk to the middle of the room. And the dogs didn't budge!

In this video, SSD Taz watches his handler build a tower of dog biscuits. Watch his face. You can tell that he really wants those biscuits, but he still doesn't try to eat them.

SSD Rio is like a statue when she plays Temptation Tower. Her handler told her "leave it," so she doesn't try to eat the biscuits, but she stares at them.

Before everyone switched dogs, we practiced the cues "under" and "paw." Watch SSD Dylan present his paw in cue for his puppy raiser. "Paw" is useful for nail clipping. We clip all of our dogs' nails, and we want the dog to be a willing participant. We train the dogs to offer their paw and let us clip their nails.

It was a fun puppy class, and we think our dogs and puppy raisers are going to be well prepared for their evaluations next week!

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