SSD Hale went bowling! The Northeast Puppy Raising Program took their dogs bowling, a great way for the dogs to get experience with loud noises and balls they aren’t allowed to chase. Hale actually got to go bowling with her sister, SSD Parks! Parks is being raised in the Harrisburg area, but SSD Parks and SSD Fred did a puppy swap. We have our puppy raisers swap puppies a few times a year so that the dogs get used to a new handler and routine, and so our puppy raisers get used to handling a different dog.
Hale and Parks really wanted to play together, but their puppy raisers worked hard to keep their attention. Once the two puppies were focused, they let them play together for a little bit.
At the bowling alley, Donna spent some time shaping Hale to move the bowling ball with her nose. However, Hale continued to bat at the ball with her paw. Donna recognized that she had clicked Hale for using her paw rather than her nose, and she tried to correct it, but for this particular shaping session, Hale continued to focus on using her paw.
Lindsey and Donna took Hale up to the line to bowl a few times. Hale did very well!
One of the skills Hale has been working on is going into a bathroom stall. This is actually a very important skill, since the dog will need to accompany their partner into the stall. At first, Hale didn’t want to go in. However, with the assistance of Meg, our volunteer trainer, Susan, another puppy raiser, and Lindsey, Donna was able to figure out how to help Hale be successful. Instead of having her walk forward into the stall and then turn around, Donna asked her to turn around and back into the stall. Bingo! Hale now backs perfectly into the stall every time. She will also back out of the stall, if necessary.
Donna has also been working with Hale to get her used to wearing a comfort trainer. Depending on a person’s needs, the dog may need to wear a comfort trainer once they’re placed with their partner as a working service dog. We try to get all of our dogs used to wearing one, and we actually train them to stick their head right into it. Donna has started by getting Hale used to having the loop of the leash over her nose. She wasn’t too keen on it at first, but now she’ll walk around with the end of the leash over her nose. Nice progress!
The skill “under” has been a challenging one for Hale. For a while, she was not too happy about tucking herself under tables, chairs and other small spaces. However, she seems to have progressed beyond that. Donna can now target or lure her under a table or chair. She hasn’t added the cue yet, because Hale isn’t quite ready yet, but soon she’ll be tucking herself under on cue.
Hale also had an experience with a helicopter. One flew very low overhead, and then turned around and came back. Donna was prepared for the loud noise and strange object to startle Hale, but Hale took it all in stride. She watched the helicopter closely, then turned and looked at Donna! She didn’t try to chase it, bark at it, or cower. Instead, she choose to look at her puppy raiser. Nice job!
Hale’s favorite cue seems to be “heel.” She flings herself into position at Donna’s left side, and she always seems so excited to do it.
She also loves to play fetch. It’s a great way to burn off some energy in the morning! She has a tug toy that Nikki, one of SSD Rizzo’s puppy raisers, made for her, and she plays with it constantly. In fact, Hale, Nubble, and Gizzy, the family dog, all pull on it at the same time!
Hale is one smart puppy, though. Donna and her family use baby gates to block the doorways of two rooms in their house when they don’t want to dogs to go in those rooms, and Donna had stopped securing them between the door jambs. They just prop them up. However, Hale figured out that if the gates are facing inward, she can bump them with her nose to knock them down so she can get into the rooms! Donna has had to change the way she props them up so that they hit the doorway instead of falling down.
What do you think Hale will learn next?