Sunday, January 23, 2011

Return to demo dogging

While in the middle of trying to find space to rent for teaching training classes again, work decided that I would be the best candidate to teach THEIR training classes. It won't make me as much money as I'd planned on, but at least they're letting me design the curriculum. I refused to teach it when I wasn't allowed to use treats.

They're also (at this time) allowing me to teach private lessons at my current rate. I had my first one yesterday and Scorch got to reprise his role as demo dog. Neither Scorch nor Wolfie have had demo dog experience in about 2 years. Needless to say, they're a little rusty.

Still, I had Scorch with me all day along with two service dogs in training (Casey and Dutch). Other than being a little jumpy (not something I've bothered to discourage) and COMPLETELY forgetting how to walk on a loose leash, he was actually very well behaved. He played nicely with Casey and Dutch in the playpen, greeted mobs of people, and performed obedience every time he was asked. It was so much like a show setting, I think he settled in quickly. He was a bit frantic with the first couple of kids he met, then he calmed down to his normal, only somewhat neurotic, self.

I realize now that I may have overstimulated him somewhat by allowing a rude pup in the puppy-raising program to harass him. I let Scorch correct him for his overzealous greetings and humpings, which the owners appreciated, but Scorch grew weary of. This has carried over I think, because today Scorch is picking fights with Wolfie (he is currently in his crate due to the last display of teeth).

Other than that faux pas on my part, Scorch was a lovely ambassador, even if he's not a program dog.

My client arrived as the crowds left, and we began working on her dog's distraction issues. The dog was a young female cockapoo with a nice foundation of training. The owner has been very responsible, reading books on positive behavior and training. They live in NYC most of the year, and a distractable dog can find all kinds of trouble there. Scorch couldn't hold his stay while I was working with the client's dog, so he had to be put away until I could use him as a distraction. We worked on loose leash walking and attention, then I brought out Scorch. I couldn't have been prouder. The owner worked diligently on turning around or backing her dog up when she pulled, and Scorch waited patiently by my side. He may not have been walking nicely on a leash that day, but his stays were awesome (as long as I wasn't handling another dog... I'll still take it).

Then I brought out Casey and Dutch in turn. Scorch whined for a moment while he was put away, then accepted his fate. Good demo dog! I brought Scorch back out for off-leash time with the dog, so that I could talk the owner through dog behavior interactions. He was an angel.

Today, as mentioned earlier, he seems stressed to me. I'm going to take him out and work him a bit to see if that helps at all. We need to start venturing downtown and to the park again to work on loose leash walking with distractions. I'm getting too reliant on the micro prong to manage situations. Besides, that tends to wake up his dog aggression, so I try not to use it often.

I have a post coming up that I've been looking forward to writing. We had a visiting, intact Westie (soon to be neutered!) and I got a photographic series of the behavior between him and my dogs (mostly Wolfie). Posturing galore, as well as nice shots of the Westie backing off, all taken with my point-and-shoot in crappy lighting (woohoo!). Oh well, I'm still excited about it. For now, here's a cell phone camera dump.

Lunch at a cafe in West Palm Beach, in town for a wedding. This was back when it was summer and WARM.

At a park in West Palm, Wolfie gets the sillies, then looks handsome.


Scorch in our favorite field with his favorite toy.

Rambo, an adorable rescued pittie that comes to visit sometimes.



Costco dog beds on sale, woop woop! We now have twice as many dog beds as dogs.

Pouty face.

Happier times, when Scorch isn't being a butthead. He looks huge in this pic, but Wolfie outweighs him by 20 pounds.

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