Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Day 14: Out on the Town

Margaret worked very hard today. We went to Florence to practice in a high distraction urban environment, and Debbie joined us to take photos to illustrate the techniques used.

Here are some of her lessons from today:

Safe and controlled exit from crate/vehicle
Margaret has to Sit before the crate door is opened. She must then Stay until given permission ("OK") to exit.
 Released into the back of my van, Margaret had to Stand Stay while I put on her harness.  Then she was given permission to exit the van, and immediately had to give me her attention and stay close to me.
 Margaret does a Sit Stay after getting out of the car.

Loose Leash Walking 
 Walking down the street it was immediately obvious that Margaret was very distracted - she was way more interested in the sights and smells of the street than anything I had to give her (despite my having new delicious treats.)  So I gave her time to sniff and get her bearings before asking for focus.

 Getting and keeping Margaret's focus takes a lot of focus on her handler's part too.
Good girl!
 When Margaret pulled forward or lost focus, I turned her round and walked back the way we had come for a few paces, then resumed walking  our previous direction. sometimes I had to repeat this quite a few times to get her working well.

 Because this is hard work at both ends of the leash, taking breaks is  important.

 Dealing with Distractions 
There were quite a few dogs on the streets, another source of distraction.
 Margaret enjoyed meeting some of them.

 And they enjoyed meeting her!
 We walked on, but Margaret was very distracted and couldn't seem to concentrate at all. Every time she pulled, I simply stopped dead, and waited till she reoriented to me. She was not allowed to pull me anywhere.
But I did use places she wanted to get to as rewards for walking with a loose leash.
Peeing can be a reward for loose leash walking!
 Relieving herself also helped Margaret's focus!

Greeting people politely 
Next we met some people who wanted to say hi to Margaret.  I used several techniques, depending on what Margaret was able to handle.

In this case she was able to Sit at some distance from friendly tourists who were missing their own dog.
I gave her permission to say hi, keeping her on a short leash and staying close to her to help her remember not to jump up.

 Then I called her away and walked her off a little way before she got too excited, before repeating the exercise.

 First she was able to be petted briefly with four paws on the ground.
 Then after she was a little less excited, she was able to Sit to be petted.

Margaret has made good progress in this area but she is young and impulsive, and needs clear guidance throughout every interaction in which she might jump on someone. We will practice this together before you take her home.

Making walks more interesting 
While we were walking, I took advantage of obstacles to add interest to the walk, and challenge Margaret mentally.



Ahoy, matey!

Working with more distractions
 Moving right along - we headed to the boardwalk, where there were all sorts of distractions to work with.
Those scary old stumps (she wasn't scared of them today)
Phuh, I wasn't really scared of them!
Margaret wasn't very focused so I used speed changes to engage her more.
 Then we went into a car park with fewer distractions and did some intensive leash work

 Margaret got very interested in wind-blown leaves skittering across the car park

Stop - Turn - Move Away
 This allowed us another chance to practice the "Stop, Turn, Move away" technique we use whenever the leash goes tight because Margaret is pulling towards something.

In this case, I was able to use the thing she was interested in as a reward. I picked up one of the leaves and used it (as I used eggs back home) as something to sniff or mouth as a reward for focus. This is generally really effective with Margaret - and it certainly was in this situation.  Suddenly, she was with me 100%!

 Back on the boardwalk, we did some more intensive "Stop. Turn, Move Away" practice.
 Using a hand flash in front of Margaret's face to direct her to turn, treating her on the turn,  backing up with her following me and treating her as we move back and away, is an effective way to add distance between Margaret and something she wants to pull towards. If she is further away, she is more able to stay connected to her handler.   She also found this exercise really fun!

Down Stay in a Public Place
 Before we headed back to the car, we did one more training session -- Down Stay in a new place. She did really well with that - she was happy to lie down and take a rest!

Up close and personal
 On our way back to the car we did some more leash walking practice where we had to walk through a small crowd of people, and pass adults and kids close up.

 That was all for Old Town.

Entering a vehicle
Sometimes Margaret will hop up into my van, but mostly she likes a hand up. I asked her to do "Paws Up" and then gave her a helping hand :)


After all that hard work, it was time for some fun. we drove to Debbie's parents house, where she had left the Moose, and took both dogs outside to play in the dunes in their spacious back yard.

 Margaret found a toy that she really liked.
 and proudly galloped around with it on her head.


Drop It and Leave It
 This was a great opportunity to practice Drop It.
 When she gave the plant pot to me, I gave her a treat and then gave the pot back to her. We practiced a few times and then she was allowed to run off with it again.
 We also practiced  Leave It in a new place.

 And then Margaret had some fun digging in the sand.

More Polite Greetings (Indoors)
 Once Margaret had burned off some energy, we took her inside to practice saying hi politely to Debbie's parents. She was actually more interested in their cat's food. So I picked up the dish and used that as a potential  reward. That got her attention!
 Debbie's father picked up Tinker's plate of turkey treats to use as a reward and Margaret managed to sit nicely to say hi.  

Down Stay While Visiting 
Once she had tried to eat the cat food and said hi to everyone, Margaret was a model visitor, lying down quietly at my feet - and smiling for the camera :)

After a long day, Margaret was happy to nap in the car all the way home. Then she played some Chuck It in the meadow, checked out the chickens with me, ate some dinner, and then crashed for the rest of the evening. She worked really hard today!

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