Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Therapy Dog Class Week 3

Chopper has not been in good spirits lately since the after dinner snack ban has gone into effect so he refused to write something about the last Therapy Dog Class.

We had a week off from class which was great timing as I had to pack for a trip to Orlando that night (and I never pack early). But when we came back this week all the dogs were back! There was also a visitor who stood in the waiting area the whole time. Chopper doesn't always like visitors in the waiting area - sometimes he barks, sometimes he just keeps running over to the wall to see if they will have treats but he ignored this guy the whole time so I was quite proud of him for that. (I think the fact that treats have been in low quantity lately and the fact that I had treats was enough of a incentive to keep him from being distracted.)

We practiced with all the equipment again (it had treats on it so we were good to go) and reviewed all the other skills we've been working on.

This week though we actually put a label on the dog taking treats from someone with a walker or wheelchair - "come visit." Granted Chopper was on his way to visiting already but I think this could work to my advantage in other situations and to help introduce Chopper to strangers - if he's doing a command he will pay attention to that (and the treats) and not worry about whether someone is going to do whatever he thinks in his little head strangers do to dogs. (I've explained on multiple occasions that I wouldn't ever let anyone hit him but that explanation appears to be a little higher than his language skills at the current time.)

We also worked on more distractions. This time the trainer came up behind the dog and "kicked" them. It wasn't a real kick - just a toe tap - but I guess it was to simulate someone accidentally bumping into them. Poor Chopper was facing me and concentrating really hard on his "look at me" command and didn't even turn his head when he got toe tapped but those giant ears went so far back he looked like he didn't have any at all and his eyes were as big as saucers. I was so happy he didn't jump around or bark or hide - yeah Chopper! (Although yesterday he jumped three feet in the air and did a 180 when I hit a tree with my head and the leaves rustled - apparently he thinks the attack is coming from the trees.)

Also during supervised separation he tried to start playing with his buddy Mumble (who was also practicing supervised alone time) which apparently is not what is supposed to be done during supervised separation. (I wonder how long until I can leave him with someone at Starbucks while I run inside? I'm guessing not until he is very old and has weak eyes and legs and the person smells like me - so this side of never.)

I think Chopper has been working very nicely on overcoming his fears and if the trainer ever needs a therapy dog - Chopper is his guy.