Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Impulse control service dog training~second week

Coco and I had a great time in class last night. I've been working on Coco's impulse control when she is distracted, by anything. I give her a, "Hep" cue and then do an about face and take a few steps or run depending on how quickly she comes up to my side. Then I praise her and have her sit and then heel. Coco has been doing great all week. And as the week progressed I got more coordinated and consistent with giving her a cue before changing directions and praising her and finding other sounds that would keep her attention.

When we got to class the new dogs were barking like mad. And though Coco was distracted she immediately recovered and focused on me. After about 20 minutes of working our dogs our amazing trainer Sarah had all of the dogs calm. And Coco was totally calm and had a focus in class that I had only seen when we were training one on one, usually in the house or in a tennis court nearby. It was fantastic.

We worked on stays and returning to our dogs and the young dogs were starting to get used to class and were curious to see what the other dogs were doing who have been in training for a year or more. It was so cool how quiet class became. Coco's focus did not leave me. And I wasn't nervous that it would. Whether any other dogs barked or were close as we zigzagged through chairs or we were relaxing, she was calm and totally focused on me. This is exactly the kind of focus she needs to have when we are walking across the street. Whether a dog is nearby or anything suddenly happens, she needs to be paying attention to where we are and where we are going.

My goal was to have Coco return to me every time I called her or blew on a whistle. Check. We are increasing distractions and distances and now working just outside the door and in the driveway. She is doing great.

And my other goal was to have Coco completely non-reactive by the end of the summer. And I think we're going to make it. Her focus has never been more intense. It's fantastic.

From making fun noises when she catches up to me or turns to be at my side and praising her or giving her an affectionate tug on her nose she now sees this training exercise as fun. She is delighted and enjoying every minute. I see this in her face and it fills me with incredible joy. Some time this next week we'll take some more video and upload it.

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