Monday, May 9, 2011

A Month of Outings for Nubble

In April, Nubble had a lot of opportunities to go out in public. Donna, his puppy raiser, had time to take him almost everywhere she went. Whenever our puppy raisers take their puppies in training out in public, they want to make sure the dogs are going to have a successful outing, which means they may need to slow down and focus completely on the dogs, especially if it's a challenging public place, such as the grocery store. If our puppy raisers are pressed for time, they may choose to leave their puppy in training at home to avoid a stressful situation.

This past month, Nubble was one busy, traveling dog! He went to two of Lindsey's soccer games, Cabela's, the grocery store, the bank, Wawa, the kennel, the airport, Walmart and several nature walks.

Lindsey plays on her high school soccer team, and Donna decided to take Nubble to his first soccer game. The first time was very challenging for Nubble. The game had already started when they arrived, and not only was there a ball flying around the field, but Lindsey was playing. Donna and Nubble made it to the bleachers, but he became even more excited rather than calming down. When Nubble is in a situation where he is unable to calm down, Donna moves him back to the place where he can see the situation but still be calm. Then, they slowly move forward a little bit at a time as long as Nubble is able to stay calm. At the soccer game, Nubble was only able to calm down when he was next to the car. It was actually very discouraging for Donna because she was hoping to take him to her daughter's soccer games.

However, although she was discouraged, she didn't give up on Nubble. Three weeks later, she and Nubble tried attending another soccer game. This time, Donna went to Lindsey's junior varsity game by herself so she could be sure to see her play. Then she went home to get Nubble for the varsity game. That way, if Nubble wasn't able to calm down enough to enter the stadium, Donna wouldn't get stressed because she couldn't see Lindsey play, and that stress wouldn't be communicated to Nubble. At Nubble's second soccer game, he successfully made it into the bleachers for the game!

Although he barked in the beginning, he did settle down. They went up the ramp, so Nubble got to walk on a strange surface. And then he settled down nicely in the bleachers. he was very aware of the ball and the soccer game, but he was good. Excellent progress! After the game, Donna had him practice stairs on the bleachers, and even though he stopped and started again several times, he didn't try to turn around and go up the stairs backwards!

Nubble went to Cabela's, and of course, he practiced stairs. Donna and Lindsey also took him to the shooting gallery arcade, where someone was practicing his marksmanship. Nubble barked at first, but after Donna clicked and treated him for being quiet, he soon got the idea that he should be calm, and he settled down. He watched the shooting area and noticed every movement whenever another target popped up. Then Lindsey helped work on "leave it." She bounced a ball, which Nubble tried to pounce on. He eventually figured out that he got a treat if he didn't pounce on the ball. By the end, it was in a nice down, watching Lindsey bounce the ball and the man practice shooting targets. It was a challenging situation for Nubble, but he did very well.

At Walmart, Donna found a blue bench to use as a training prop. Nubble practiced "up," "under," and "leave it" here at the bench and at the checkout.

Now that the weather is getting nicer and the days are getting longer, Donna and Nubble have been taking some nice trail walks. One time they got caught in the rain. Nubble had a grand old time walking from puddle to puddle! They were walking near the lake, and startled a couple of ducks. Although Nubble flinched, he then stood perfectly still without barking!

Gizzy, the family dog, came along for another trail walk, and she and Nubble saw a herd of deer. Five deer came out of a meadow and crossed in front of them, and the dogs didn't know what to think. At first, Donna thought Nubble was just going to watch them, but then Gizzy barked, which set Nubble off. Both dogs were barking, but those deer just continued moseying along. Then Nubble took an odd step and stepped right out of his EasyWalk! Donna had to quickly grab his collar and redress him in the EasyWalk while holding on the Gizzy at the same time. But other than the adventure with the deer, the walk went quite well.

The Northeast group held one of their meetings outside, and they practiced recalled in a fenced-in field. Nubble played very nicely with SSD Ben. The dogs played on a jungle gym, and Nubble even went up and down some steep steps! All the dogs wend down a short slide, and they practiced walking on a textured ramp. Kids were playing nearby, but Nubble didn't focus on them. He did great!

At the end of the month, Nubble had his end-of-the-semester puppy class evaluation in Harrisburg. He and Donna were in a different room than the room where we typically hold puppy class, and at first Nubble was very uncertain about being in a new place. It took him a while to settle down, and even then he was still very interested in what was going on in the other parts of the building where other dogs were also being evaluated. He did do some very nice shaping, and he gave a nice "under." He needs to work on paying attention to his handler and "leave it." Donna has been working on "doggie zen," ignoring food and other distractions, each day, and she does see an improvement. She plans to spend more time practicing doggie zen with him.

Check back tomorrow to read about Nubble and the people he meets when he goes out in public!

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