Monday, June 20, 2011

Camp Doglando Day 5



Thank god its Friday! My morning certainly did not start off as planned.... the daycare dogs came in with pep in their step and so my morning was taken over by working with them. I am a firm believer in everything happens for a reason and to make the best of the weakest moments..... so I left the kids to themselves (of course we had our helpers there for supervision). Our directions were simple, get the morning chores done, following the same routine of the last few days. Complete your training session (no clear goals were set by us) and then join me with the daycare dogs.

They were on top of their game. Crates cleaned, water bowls washed out and refilled, puppies medicated, and training session completed. This was an awesome end to the week! The kids practiced all they learned, and thoroughly understand successive approximation in training as they came up with their own ways of building on the exercises they learned up until then. We had not even asked them to do some of the things they were trying to do with their puppies, and the greatest part was that they broke it all into small achievable pieces so that their puppies could achieve it. This was awesome!

Then, they pup their pups away and joined me out back, where they just LOVE to play with the dogs. Today, they met the Friday dogs. Some of them are dogs they have met on other days, some that just come on Fridays. The dogs that have already "experienced" the kids, started choosing the kids over us! It makes you sit back and think from the dog's point of view and the kid's point of view, and that is that life is just too short, "play and play hard." As adults we anticipate things to get out of control, or someone to get hurt, or a fight, or someone to get hurt, so we are always practicing safety and caution. The kids and dogs alike, would much rather the opportunity to be free and play, and if all or any of those things were to happen, they they would deal with it then, get over it and start all over again! This is where learning happens, not by avoidance and practicing safety ALWAYS!

Look at this photo, normally our Campus Coaches would not ever play with the dogs in this manner. One person, with one ball and a following of 8-10 dogs... all of whom were eager and aroused in play. What was incredible to watch was how much control this kid had. He was so good with the ball, but also so aware of the dogs, he would stop the game intermittently by picking up the ball and making all the dogs "back off." He'd then set the ball down, and any dog that approached the ball without his permission, he would "back off" again. The dog's knew better than to challenge him.
There was a moment where he kicked the ball so high up and away, and the GSD in the photo ran off to get it. She did, she grabbed it and then tried to run off with it in an attempt to play keepers. I walked him through the entire next part and wanted him to learn that was not going to be acceptable. So, we both walked towards her and he calmly and firmly asked her to drop it. She did not, but did freeze, and tilt her head to the side with the ball, He grabbed hold of the ball, and without tugging it or snatching it out of her mouth, he again firmly repeated in a deeper voice "drop it!" He waited patiently hold the ball firmly waiting for her to let it go. They both stood still, he starring at her, and she waiting to see how long this would continue before he lost interest.

By the end of this exercise, Demi, the GSD, had such great respect for this kid, that's all it took and she followed him everywhere the rest of the day. She even went swimming with him in the afternoon, allowing him to hold on to her back end while he glide behind her as she swam the length of the pool! This was magical! A true GSD & boy love story!

We went to Marble Slabs after lunch, where the dogs first practiced walking properly on leash with auto sits and greeting politely. Then, we went into Old Navy (no they are not dog friendly but they are DOGLANDO friendly!) and the Old Navy customers lavishly praised our campers and their pups. One of our pups totally took this opportunity to throw himself on the floor with belly down and all fours spread out like superman. Clearly he was too hot to go anywhere, he had found the greatest spot and was not about to budge. The kids giggled about this, and then as a team encouraged the pup to get up and keep going.

Our next stop was Marble Slabs. We tied up each pup to an arm on a chair and spread the chairs apart. The dogs were tethered quite short, so that they could only sit, comfortably lay down, but not walk over the the next pup. The rules were, the dogs had to be sitting or lying down while the kids went in, got their ice-cream and came back. The campers had to keep an eye on them from the inside of the shop and if the pup got up, they were to come out and redirect the dog. All did AWESOME!

Same rules applied while the campers sat down to eat their ice cream. The campers all sat on an umbrella table opposite their dogs. There was a path in between the campers and the pups, where the public walked through. We had all sorts of distractions, strollers, people walking by with their dogs, and people without dogs. Kids enforced same rules, pups could sit or lay down through all these distractions.

Then, a wonderful thing happened, we could not have timed this better. A family of three walked by with their dog. Just as they approached Marble Slabs, they dropped their dogs leash. The dog immediately took his place out side the shop door and waited in a down for them to come out. The dog was not tethered to anything, he just waited.

Immediately, I thought this has to be a European family, and my guess is a dog from Germany. Far fetched huh, but that would have been my guess. The family came out and sat by the bench next to us, while the dog still stayed at the door. Then they called their dog, took the dogs leash off, and the father took his spoon full of ice cream, held it high over the dogs head while using his finger to slide it off the spoon.... and the dog caught it.

i asked them where they were from, and the wife said " GERMANY." I knew it! The kids were fascinated that the dog did so well. On Monday, we are going to talk about what makes this dog so different!

Our afternoon routine was the same as every other day, stinking hot, so the kids went swimming with their pups. They spent an hour and a half in the pool, then another half hour in the front yard sitting on the grass, drying by the sun. We wrapped up the day with chores, medicating pups and a short training session.... and that was the end of week 1.