The pups had a good day of training yesterday, and are now zonked from three successive pack walks today. The first thing we did at training was try to start all the dogs on retrieving: getting them excited about one of a variety of toys, then throwing it for them and calling them back. Didn't matter if they brought the toy back, but the recall was paramount.
Before working Juno (who knows the retrieve already), I worked Kaline, two Labs, a Golden Retriever-poodle mix and I think one other dog. One of the Labs had already had a bunch of retrieving work—her dad eventually wants her to be able to go hunting with him. So, I was pretty stoked about Kaline when he showed absolutely the strongest retrieving drive of the dogs who really don't have retriever training. My little Doberman retriever! He was on that stuffed lobster every time I tossed it; the coming back was questionable, but that's why everyone was on leash, haha. Juno was the most fun, of course, because she knows her stuff, but I was very encouraged about Kaline.
Big props to Maura, Kaline's breeder—one of the most important tests to see if a puppy will end up being a good service prospect is the retrieving test. If you throw a ball of paper and the puppy goes for it, then at least makes the attempt to bring it back, that's a great sign. She picked me a great one!
Later, Juno got to work in the "big dog" group, as usual. At training, "big dog" refers to our personal dogs. We did lots of heeling, with moving stands and moving downs. I worked Juno on either her shark line or completely off leash, and she did pretty well! Gotta love those moving stands; we had so much fun working on those when she was first learning how to do it. Then we did remote sits and downs, and Juno was held up as the example of how to go properly from a down to a sit (push up, no picking up the butt and creeping forward). Woohoo!
Kaline got to do a bit of heeling and weaving through the advanced dogs on down-stays. He was a bit ADD—Look! There's Chief! Oh, hi Mom, yes, I'm watching. CHIEF! Hi! Oooh, leaves. Right, right, I'm watching ... We have been working a lot though on him responding to his name with eye contact while we're walking, so I think eventually that'll pay off. He's been doing great at that on pack walks, even when he's in the middle of the pack.
We had a bunch of training opportunities on our walks today—seriously, everything feels totally manageable when I'm wearing a bait bag! Multiple times, we either had to pass or got passed by dogs who were growling and/or showing other reactive behaviors. Every time, I was like, "Oooh, yay! Time to reinforce proper behaviors!"
In my first pack, I have a lovely but somewhat reactive dog—he won't start crap, but he will definitely respond if the other dog keeps on long enough. At one point, we got passed by a pack of four dogs, way out in front of the woman walking them, growling and straining toward my guys. Well, my guys were all sitting and staring at me, getting little yummy morsels popped into their mouths. Definitely the message I want to get across: See a reactive dog, look at human, get food—nothing bad will happen and the human will handle it.
On the second pack walk, the one that goes to downtown Palo Alto, we got passed by lots of loud buses and trucks; Kaline's reaction to them is getting more and more muted. We didn't even run into any idiots on that route today, it was fantastic!
We did get an idiot, I think, on the third walk, which was the most relaxing one: just Juno, her boyfriend Ellis, and wee Kaline. Some guy kept asking me which dog was the MGM Lion, and when I was confused, he assumed I didn't know what MGM was, or that a roaring lion is their symbol. Let me assure you that that's untrue, I don't live under a rock! If anyone reading this happens to know what three dogs have to do with the MGM Lion, please tell me so I can retract my statement that this guy was an idiot. (One other idiot: Saw me passing with three dogs trotting at my heels—they were all tired—and said, "Who's walking who?" Um, I think that should be pretty clear.)