Friday, June 17, 2011

Camp Doglando Day 4

I have got to start off today's post on how well our daycare dogs have done with all the kids around for the last four days. We have so many dogs in daycare that used to display extreme fear and shyness to the point where they were reactive if approached by strangers and some that still do maintain a greater distance towards staff. I can never emphasize enough on the importance of having your dog attend Doglando's enrichment / daycare program, but this week says it all.

All our dogs, even those we thought we would need to watch rather closely, have been amazing with the campers. They have loved this change in routine, and extra human friends... maybe because they campers can actually keep up with them as opposed to us, who by the end of the daycare at BEAT!

Once camp is over, I think we may have to create some form of a membership where by kids can come and play with our dogs (this is just a joke, so don't you all start sending us inquires on it lol).

I am so proud of all our dogs, and most of all our staff for their hard work in helping these dogs get to this point. Our staff work so hard rain or shine, and the amount of time they spend working and training the dogs is sometimes overlooked. Great work team DOGLANDO.

Day 4, the kids new exactly what to do, and got straight to work as soon as they arrived. They checked in, and without any hesitance, walked through the main daycare area to the Camp Dorm.

It has been great having them around, they have even learned to help us with the morning daycare drop off rush, assisting our clients with their dogs by taking their dogs our to the field. It did not take them long at all to remember so many of the dog's names, and yes, they even have their favorites!

All the crates were cleaned out, wiped down, bedding replaced, water bowls emptied and washed, dogs medicated, and food bag filled... all while having their puppies tethered to them. On day one our rules were, their puppies had to always be tethered to them, or tied up to their crates, or in their crates, but never were they to be left alone unattended. One of our campers followed this rule consistently from day one, and today he had his pup to the point where by he could leave him in a sit position anywhere in the room (untied) and leave the room to go to the bathroom, then get a drink and come back.... the puppy stayed waiting for him and only released upon his verbal "okay." This was so amazing to watch, and definitely one of my proudest moments of the camp so far!

We completed our morning chores and had our first training session with the pups. Today, the puppies learned to recognize their names followed by a recall. We started of with restrained recall exercises, where I held the pups one at a time, and the handler went off about 20 feet or so. All other handlers maintained a sit on their puppies shaping continuous eye contact until their turn.

We build this exercise to the point where Rachel (one of the Doglando Campus' Coaches) held the puppies behind one shed, and the handler hit about 30 feet behind another shed, and the pups were released to go find their handlers. It took a little encouragement the first time, but these pups are so darn smart, doing it the second time was a piece of cake!

After completing our first training session, we put the pups in their homes/crates and the campers got to go outside to play with the daycare dogs. This is by far one of their most favorite activities, especially the boys. Of course, they defy all our rules, such as not allowing the dogs to jump on them, not to run and have the dogs run after them, but they love it and the dogs do too! No game is inappropriate if there are rules, and if rules are obeyed, and dogs and kids alike, they have followed them so we have allowed the game to go on.

Around 9:30am we had a special guest speaker, a pet food consultant from the dog food company FROMM. The kids learned all about nutrition, ingredients and the difference between low, middle, and high premium commercial grades foods, and how these food differ from Holistic/human grade foods.

They could not believe what commercial grade dog food was made up of, and asked "then why do people feed that?" One of the campers asked the speaker "what are three good foods you would recommend?" She replied "Fromm, Evangers, Orijen, Natural Balance, and they are all sold here (Doglando)." He said "from now on, I will always tell people these are the ones they need to feed their dogs, especially the family that adopts my puppy."

The speaker asked them questions about their training, and what kinds of treats they used. The kids replied saying "oh well we don't use treats...." and went on to explain how we train using their food. She was so surprised they worked so hard for their food when she saw them train, but if anyone has attended our classes before you know our philosophy and know how and why it works for every kinds of dog!

I took this opportunity to talk to them about the different philosohies in training and we talked about being receptive, getting as much information as you can about all styles and choosing what works best for the handler and their dog. This was a great conversation, that led up to a discussion on the use of E-Collars and Invisible Fences and when they may be a better option for the dog. This conversation was not an output of my own opinion, but a mere critical thinking and discussion conversation, it was great! They each shared their own experiences, and realized that if one spends the time to work with their dogs when they are puppies, there was not a need for them. We also talked about how for working dogs such as hunting dogs, tools like the E-Collar, when properly used are necessary in distance control for the dog's safety. They said, "well we don't need to use them because our dogs are companion dogs, and we are spending the time we need to get them trained when they are still young."

Before breaking for lunch, we made ice-treats for dogs using chicken broth and beef freeze dried treats, and stuffed kongs for each of the puppies with Doglando's Famous Kong Stuffing Recipe. I turned by back for one second to get my camera, and there they were with spoon fulls of the stuffing for themselves. They loved it so much that tomorrow we have to make a batch just for them!
We also made home made dog biscuits that they had to mead, roll and cut the dough into bone shapes.

After lunch, Belinda (another Campus Coach) gave them a brief pet first aid talk, while going over how to use the supplies in the pet first aid boxes they each were given for their puppies. She asked them if they felt there were other items they could think of that would come to use in an emergency, that were not included in the first aid kit, and one of the campers said out loud "a small plastic bag/zip lock bag." She asked the class, what might they use that for, and they said to throw away the garbage from the neospirin and alcohol pad and whatever else they may have to use.

Our mid day training session consisted of teaching the puppies to "lay down." Within two tires, every puppy was lying down with a lure, and by the end of the session on hand signal! Seriously, we have some genius pups, and master youth trainers!

This time of the day sounds like an echo of "when are we going swimming?" So, the kids went swimming with their pups. They spent more than an hour in the pool making up their own games with each other and their puppies, while we baked. It is so much fun watching such innocence in both the dogs and children that makes this entire experience so special.

They've got the hang of it now, after swimming comes the drying part, and this was no fun feat initially. Now, they've got the pups sitting and coping while they blow them off with the powerful no-heat grooming dryers.

The kids may not have been, the pups were certainly ready to go to bed after this. This prompted a lecture on making sure we have enough time to rest, play and work and that applies to the dogs as well.... so we gave the puppies half an hour of quiet time. Just before awaking them, the campers completed their evening chores then we wrapped up the day with our last training session.

End of day 4.

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