Toronto Training – a service dog in training hits the road

This entry is part 15 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training
English: Panorama of Toronto. Français : Image...

Panorama of Toronto. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I just made a short trip to Toronto with Mindy the Guide Dogs for the Blind puppy, and she was amazing. So if you don’t want to hear puppy bragging, you might want to move on — but if you want to hear about new challenges and how we met them (and how we used previous training to better handle these new situations), keep reading. Continue reading

Practicing Recalls

This entry is part 14 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

I’ve been traveling a lot lately, which has distracted me from the blog. But some of those travels are going to provide fun new blog posts, so in the long run it’s been worth it.

But now that I’m home, it’s more obvious that Mindy’s starting to mature, in that way when puppies are no longer quite so dependent on us for every little asset and therefore feel more comfortable to venture out on their own for more and longer periods of time. Or, as clients more typically phrase it when they call me, “she doesn’t want to come when I call.”

guinea fowlTo be perfectly fair to Mindy, my yard has gotten a lot more interesting. I’ve acquired a small flock of guinea fowl to combat the local ticks, and they were just turned loose this week. They’re still clinging near the house, and they are FASCINATING to a young retriever. Continue reading

Resisting Temptation

This entry is part 11 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training
honey-drizzled Brie, prosciutto, and crackers

Honey-drizzled Brie, prosciutto, and crackers. Yum.

So the puppy and I had a night out last week to the New Day Meadery, a local mead and cider room. (I drink very little, maybe a glass every couple of months, but I find their libations very tasty.) Their tasting room also offers specialty foods, and I ordered a honey-drizzled Brie and prosciutto platter along with my mead. Only problem is, their tasting room is pretty hip, with ultra-low tables to serve the lounging couches. And Brie and prosciutto are pretty attractive to a 15-week old puppy (or any dog, let’s be honest). Continue reading

Puppy’s First Clicker Session

This entry is part 9 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training
How I get things done: today I placed a blanket and a chew in a sun-spot. I cheat.

How I get things done: today I placed a blanket and a chew in a sun-spot. I cheat.

She’s a bit young to be have flashbacks already, but here’s a look back at Mindy’s very first clicker session.

After our long flights home, Mindy was full of hollow energy. She’d slept on the plane, so she was awake, but it had been a crazy long day, so she was frazzled. In fact, it had been a long weekend, since she’d left the kennel, stayed overnight with someone new, gone to Clicker Expo, met me, stayed overnight with me, and then flown to sub-zero temperatures.

And I was tired, because I’d done Clicker Expo, too, and then puppy-wrangled through three airports without dog facilities. Continue reading

A Big Day 4 (and end of the first week)

This entry is part 6 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

My husband met the puppy for the first time Friday morning. They’ve seemed to hit it off pretty well.

black lab puppy lying in man's lap with green dragon toy IMAG0316

I had made plans to go to the Home Show with others, and I knew it would be a great big experience for the new pup. It also had the potential to be too big an experience, so I packed an entire day’s worth of kibble and an extra bully stick, more on that in a moment.

I picked up the vest and gear, and I put on my coat, and Mindy launched from my husband’s lap and ran to join me. Remember how I said I wanted most of all to condition that outings were fun? I think we’re on target.

And then we headed out to the State Fairgrounds for a socialization adventure. Continue reading

Puppy Tales

This entry is part 5 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training
She got a glamour shot before going into ClickerExpo. Kinda cute!

She got a glamour shot before going into ClickerExpo. Kinda cute!

A bunch of vignettes and little announcements today….

Breed Differences

Remember, I’m coming from Dobermans, who are generally happy to play in puddles or lakes but regard falling water as acid rain. I had to work a deal with Laev, introducing her to a hose spray during bitework: “If you let me wet you down so you don’t overheat during hot, humid training sessions, we will then immediately go to get the bad guy.” It was a valuable enough reinforcer for her to stand the spray, and we transitioned it to baths at home: “If you stand still for the bath, I will frequently reinforce,” and then, “If you stand still for the bath, then I will pay big at the end.”

So this was my first time to bathe a Labrador. I started by turning on the sprayer and running warm water, then scattering a few kibbles in the spray and puddle. She ventured in, curious and only briefly hesitant, and I scattered more kibbles as I shifted the sprayer to catch more of her. She was totally off-leash for this, not trapped, so she had a clear choice. I wanted her to be still, so I sprinkled kibble occasionally as I picked up the sprayer and began to wash the puppy (no shampoo). Continue reading

Day 2 with the Guide Dog puppy: Moving Fast

This entry is part 4 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

IMAG0246So yeah, lots of puppy posts. Not gonna apologize.

This one’s a little less “aww!” and a little more training-oriented. I’ve got to type fast, though, because I just put the pup down for a nap after a big afternoon! Continue reading

The First Day is a Big Day

This entry is part 3 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training
Yes, your face WILL stick like that.

Yes, your face WILL stick like that.

A California puppy haiku:

Snow is weird and cold.
OMG! You can eat it!
Ow-wow-wow brain freeze.

Due to a lucky “break” in our cold snap, Mindy experienced only a 70-degree drop in temperature when we arrived home late Monday night. I took her out to urinate on the new paving stones installed for her toilet (GDB puppies learn to urinate on concrete, for the easy of urban work later) and watched it freeze beneath her. Brr! Continue reading

Book Release: Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out!

Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out: Training Crazy Dogs from Over-the-Top to Under ControlToday’s the day: Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out: Training Crazy Dogs from Over-the-Top to Under Control has hit the shelves. Well, virtual shelves, as it’s online for now… but it’s out! Continue reading