Thursday, June 16, 2011

Camp Doglando Day 3

Its hump day today! Woohoo! Wow, did not realize how exhausting this would be.

The kids arrived anxiously wanting to show off their pups to their parents. They completed their morning routine as outlined on our white board, and go ready for the day ahead of them.

As of today, the puppies were not going to be allowed in daycare. We talked about the reasons for this, mainly being that the dogs were going to get worked so much during the day, plus the outings and that allowing them in daycare would really exhaust them. We also discussed establishing a routine that would be more similar to the one in their future home, and that we needed to get them used to it.

We let the puppies out for a short morning training and play session, then put them back in their crates so that we could spend some time with today's daycare dogs. Shortly into this, the kids said "we like yesterday's dogs better." I could not believe this. I asked them why, and they all replied saying "the dogs that came in yesterday were more active."

I thought back to yesterday's dogs, and in fact, yes they were.... there are a lot more puppies that come on Tuesdays.... then an idea struck my mind. Isn't that the number one reason dogs get given up, because they are too active, and people don't have the time for them or energy for them. How cool would it be to have a shelter for all these hyper dogs, where their only volunteers were children! And as long as training is fun like they are finding it to be, the kids don't want to stop!

Anyway, back to camp. We got ready and left for our first outing with our puppies. We set our training goals, which were:

1. To apply all they have learned so far, out in a new place and in the public.
2. To teach them to walk properly on a leash, without pulling, using their body or teeth against us.
3. To stop and go into a sit, every time we stop.
4. To have the dog sit politely for when a stranger stops us to greet the dog or ask us about the dog.

This did not go according to plan immediately. All the kids and dogs have done remarkable in the last two days. I think, they felt it would go the same way out in a new place. They very quickly realized, their dogs were not accepting the food anymore, and were so distracted, it was hard to keep their attention. A couple of them even got a little frustrated and showed disappointment, so we sat down for a chat.

We talked about setting realistic expectations, patience, practice and opportunity.... if none of these are provided in training, then we will fail as trainers. We had some water, ate some snacks and tried again.

One of the puppies started lifting up on to his back legs in an attempt to fight the camper. I took over the leash and held the leash taut, waiting for the puppy to settle down and get back on track. At that moment, the camper said "please don't make him, I don't want him to make him, I will cry..." A very common reaction even from adults. Also at the same time, one of the other puppies responded to the walk in the same manner, only that that camper said "I will wait patiently until you are done and then we will move on."

What a difference in opinion! I took the opportunity to discuss both outlooks and again we set off.

We walked around Panera and Barnes & Nobles, asking the puppies to "sit" each time we stopped, and on our second round... all the puppies were doing this almost automatically! The kids were so proud and I could not even describe their motivation level after this exercise.

We went to Planet Smoothie to get ourselves some cold drinks and got the puppies some water then practiced the "sitting politely for petting exercise" before returning to Doglando. We were stopped by a gentleman outside Panera, who just loved one of the Shleties. I stopped with the camper as the rest of the group carried on.

I stood behind the camper, allowing the camper to tell him all about this dog. I can not recall the entire conversation, I should have taped it, you all would drop your jaws listening to it. The camper said "well, have you had a dog before? He is up for adoption, but do you know anything about a sheltie? " He went on to tell him about the dog's grooming requirements, and if they are not well taken care of, how matting can be formed. He said "and sometimes they get cast mats.... they feel just as hard as a real cast." This was from yesterday's grooming lessons.

The man was so impressed by the camper's knowledge and enthusiasm to share it with him, I really think this would be a great strategy for rescuers to apply. I also feel, as an adopter, you will carry a more deeper level of guilt if the dog is not properly cared for when you know you will disappoint a child who cared so dearly for that dog.

After lunch, the kids were asked to make adoption flyers for their puppies. The task was to make the flyer informative, descriptive, and catchy! The scenario was, imagine a bulletin board filled with flyers, and what is going to make your flyer so catchy that people stop to look?

I asked them to work in two and toss out some ideas. I over heard one of them saying "I think we should get a photo of two planes crashing and use that, because if people saw that they would immediately stop to see it." One another team, I heard the camper say "I think we should show a photo of us with the puppy because that would show the dogs are kid friendly."

This is certainly hard work for us, but moments like this keep us going.

Then the highlight of the day... each of the kids got to go swimming with their puppies, teaching them how to swim and cope as well as an opportunity to build more trust.

The kids loved this part, and had such a great time, and best of all each one of them successfully taught their puppies how to swim to the point where they even had a swimming competition.

We wrapped up our afternoon with catching up on our journal, and then the last training session for the day. Here the kids were tested for three things:

1. Have their dogs sit, walk away about 30 feet and then release the puppies.
2. Have the puppies sit, then walk away and hide behind the shed for 30 seconds, then return, the puppy should still remain in position.
3. Have the puppies sit and wait while during pick up time for daycare dogs (no jumping, no lunging, no getting up to greet other dogs or people without release).

Every puppy and camper passed this exercise with flying colours!

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