The adventures of SD Juno and SDIT Kaline (and their human, Colt).

29 July 2013

Going to the fair, plus harness training

Lately we have been going to fairs and doing harness training with Kaline (what it says on the tin). Two weekends ago was the street fair in Menlo Park, where we live, and then last weekend was the street fair in Redwood City. Vendors at both were pretty disappointing, but it was definitely good for the pups.

I have discovered that while Kaline has no problem doing walks, or even trotting briskly, in shoes, he does not believe he should be asked to do what I think of as fine positioning work while wearing them. We're talking swinging into a block position or coming back to heel. He kinda freezes up and then you have to ... unfreeze him. Other than that, he was fantastic. We did a lot of going through crowds, and Kaline's sniffing was exceedingly minimal. Most of the time he didn't even turn his head at all. He mostly ignored the various other dogs around too. I won't get into a rant on those but let's just say a lot of people brought dogs who were not prepared to be in that situation, either in a physical or a mental sense.
Kaline at the street fair in Menlo Park.

People lost their marbles over Kaline and Juno's shoes. I enjoyed spreading the Gospel of Shoes to anyone who asked where they could get such awesome protection for their dogs' feet, but the pointing and squealing got tiresome very quickly. I told several adults curtly, “It's rude to point.” We met another Doberman, Duke, a month older than Kaline and significantly larger and goofier! So adorable. Kaline also worked on ignoring people petting him (I want to do a practice Public Access Test with him soon, just for shits and giggles).

The Redwood City fair had even worse vendors, was much smaller, and had great blues acts and freaking delicious barbecue. It wasn't that hot, but Kaline started doing the dance on the pavement so on went the shoes. We met up with Sonja, Chief, Hendrik, and their two friends from Germany, which was delightful. Later we all went to Crissy Field to let the dogs run about.

Kaline and Chief at the blues concert.
Kaline and Chief ignoring the delicious barbecue.

On to harness training. Kaline is going on the Michigan trip, due to the fact that all the people I know who normally would be able to take him cannot—and neither can a shit ton of people I don't know. Juno is going to have a delightful spa week with Sonja, Chief, and the “old ladies.” She's obviously much lower-maintenance than Kay and more importantly, can be trusted to be around Chief without a human hanging onto her front paws.

Obviously, going on the trip means Kaline's duties are going to expand, at least temporarily. He's not old enough to do counterbalance or brace work, but thankfully he is old enough to do what I need most in terms of mobility: momentum pull. Basically it's the same as when you see crazy dogs pulling like sled dogs in back-attaching harnesses, only Kaline will be paying attention, pulling at an appropriate level, and not going nuts. And instead of pulling on a leash he'll be pulling against a handle. Point is, doesn't hurt a young dog.

Our first session was really short and kind of feeling things out. I just took Kaline outside with the Petjoy harness on, and any time he made the floppy handle taut, I rewarded him. Then Juno decided to come participate, so I put her in a down stay by our house walkway and took Kaline away from her. Then I just let him walk back to her—he pulled beautifully and slowed to a stop right in front of her, so we started practicing a stop command too. Saying “easy” was not so good at first as a slow-down cue because that usually means he's about to be told to sit. We've worked on it since, and now he's just slowing down, and not turning to face me as much.

We did another session where I gave Kaline a target like I give Juno. BAD IDEA. Well, bad idea in the sense that I used Juno as the target. Kaline practically pulled my arm off in his frantic efforts to catch up to the Holy Grail of his big sister. He freaking hates it when he can see her pulling away from him and I make him keep heeling or whatever. Yeah, need to work on that. I took the harness off and just made him do very basic obedience with Juno far in front. Any time I asked him to sit, for like fifteen minutes, the word “sit” would elicit the most agonized shriek from my puppy. It was almost funny.

Our latest session went really nicely. I had gotten a lot of great suggestions on harness training from others with mobility SDs, and one of them was to take Kaline on a routine walk (i.e. he knows the exact path already) with the harness. So we did that, and mostly it went really well. Without the target, he did not pull nearly so hard. We worked on our various harness commands: forward, easy, stop, left, and right. For left and right, I'm making these huge ridiculous hand signals right now, exaggerations of the ones I do when we're heeling. Kaline got a break in the middle of the session to pee and sniff and all that; I had to hype him up about pulling afterward. Like Juno, he seems to like having a sidewalk to follow, and we were in a parking lot. So, I made a fool of myself, got Kaline all bouncy again, and off we went home. I was really pleased with his progress!

Juno has been busy as well. She came to a play with me and my bestie, Rachel, in Aptos. We did a walk along the beach, where a little girl saw Juno and said, “That dog is alllllllll princess!” Most adorable thing ever. I was stiff and in a lot of pain after the play ... something about the seats. Juno supported me carefully and slowly down the stairs, and in the lobby afterward. She's just the best.
Juno at the beach.

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