Our dogs may not be able to swing a golf club, but that doesn't mean they can't play golf! Our trainers and puppy coordinator created a new game to practice stays and recalls - puppy mini golf! We marked off two squares approximately 10 yards apart. Each puppy raiser had to put their dog in a down- or sit-stay in the first square. While the dog stayed, the puppy raiser walked to the other square and called their dog. At the cue, the dog needed to run directly towards their puppy raiser and sit inside the other square. If the dog successfully did that, they got a hole in one!
Every time the puppy raiser gave the cue "come," the dog got a point. And just like in mini golf, sometimes it takes more than one try to sink a putt, or in this case, get the dog to sit in the square. Some of our puppy raisers chose to take the extra points to make sure that their dog was successful - which was great! Instead of walking all the way to the other square while the dog stayed, some puppy raisers only walked a few feet away and then called their dog. It may have taken a little longer, but by breaking the distance into smaller increments, the dogs were successfully able to reach the second square and sit.
Whenever we play games in class or work on any cues and behaviors, we love to see our puppy raisers setting their dogs up for success!
Watch videos of some of our dogs playing puppy golf.
SSD Dylan demonstrates his speedy recall. Look at how quickly he gets to his puppy raiser!
SSD Rummy learned the hand signal for "come" and as soon as she sees it, she trots right over to her puppy raiser.
Watch how SSD Yahtzee's puppy raiser sets him up for success. Because down-stays are challenging for him right now, she doesn't go very far away before calling him. And watch what she does to reward him for successfully completing the behavior!
We also started shaping the dogs to perform a new behavior - sticking their nose through a comfort trainer! When our dogs are placed as working service dogs, they sometimes wear a comfort trainer. The comfort trainer gives their partner more control over the dog, which can be very helpful for the person, depending on their disability. And if the dogs learn to put their nose through the comfort trainer right from the start, it will be much easier for their future partners.
Watch SSD Topaz learn to stick his nose through a loop. Rather than give all the dogs a comfort trainer, we had their puppy raisers start shaping the behavior by having the dogs put their noses through a loop in the leash. For now, Topaz's puppy raiser is just clicking and treating him for touching the loop with his nose.
The dogs in training are also learning "lap." On cue, the dog rests his front paws in his handler's lap. This behavior is especially helpful for bringing the dog closer to his handler. While the dog in on the person's lap, his ears and teeth can be cleaned and he may even get dressed in his comfort trainer, if he wears one.
SSD Lily also practices "lap." Watch how her puppy raiser treats her while she's still in her lap.
This was an exciting puppy class for us, and not just because we played a new game. This was our first puppy class at our new location! We now hold puppy class in our new "store" in the Harrisburg Mall. We're very excited to have more space for the dogs to learn and practice new skills! If you're in the Harrisburg Mall on Wednesday evenings, you'll be able to see the dogs practicing.
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