Saturday, June 1, 2013

Spur: Training the Beast, Part 17

Class Day 10, June 1

Private Class at the animal hospital. We were the only ones. There was no Group Class going on. We talked to Courtney about our homework and our progress. So, we decided to take a field trip to the closest pet shop. It wasn’t a major chain that had its own trainers, so Courtney felt like she could enter with her official training t-shirt on and not get chased out.

We practiced heeling down aisles with all the food distractions. We practiced sit-stays and comes. We had the cashier throw food at Spur. We discovered that since he already knew the command “touch” we were going to change it up. Wedging a piece of food between our fingers, we’d hold our hand, straight, and down in front of his face. “Touch” now meant he would need to place his nose to our flat hand receiving the food as reward. We tried this with a couple of the store employees. We tried this with a couple of store patrons. As it was still before 10:00 am, the store was slow, so we took him out and down the shopping center looking for other dog-likers.

“Do you like dogs?” I’d call out.

A couple of people held up their hand and said, “I don’t want to buy a dog!”

“Oh NO! I’m not trying to sell him. I’m trying to *train* him.” I’d explain to them that he’s afraid of people. I explained how to hold the treat and call “Spur, Touch.” I forgot to explain to ignore his bark and he ~did~ bark at one woman. But she explained to us that she had shepherds and she didn’t back down to Spur. Actually, as soon as he began barking, she reached her hand out to me to get more treats. She was going to do this until he calmed down. Which he did. She will never know how grateful I am for her assistance! From then on, I remembered to tell people to ignore Spur if he barks. Everyone we asked was so willing to help us! We probably had about 5 people help us out and this was in front of a grocery store!

We headed back to the pet store and had a couple more people ask Spur to “Touch.” He didn’t bark at anyone. Courtney suggested we start taking him everywhere. Including restaurants (with patios) that allow dogs. I’m reluctant to do that until we have more success with Spur. She offered some advice on how to get him to lie still at our feet; step on the leash very close to the clasp where you attach it to his collar. If he gets up, he cannot move anywhere. Most likely, he’ll just lie back down. Yeah… I’m still not ready for that. Maybe one day soon, though. What a great class!

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