Welcome to day 2 of training: corrections, distractions and tricks.

Today was a lot of teaching we handlers how to be the people our dogs need to be. The dogs are trained. They would not be in this class if they  had not learned all the skills they need. It is the adult handlers who truly need the training because even if you have had another dog you need to learn to speak the language, for a lack of better word, these dogs speak. They are praised and corrected in a specific manner and we spent a lot of today going over that.

The thing I am having the hardest time with is judging my leash. I need to leave enough slack to let Brooklyn know I am confident in her and her skills but have enough hold on it to be able to give corrections as needed. I tend to hold too snug, which I would imagine is a typical newbie thing. When we have the dog actually coming back to the hotel with us I will get ample opportunity to practice this and I cannot wait for that. Brooklyn is a gentle soul through and through – she does not need a tight hold and does not need strong corrections. I do not want to upset her by being clumsy to such a gentle lady so practice will ensue!

We went over sit and down again, this time with distractions. Oh, the distractions. They challenged these dogs with everything they love: pupperoni and balls! The goal is for them to not break command to go after the beloved item. You offer distractions that are far more abundant than they are likely to get in public. They threw pupperoni all around them, threw the ball around the room, bounced it right in front of their faces and hey – kids even ran around them yelling and acting out and the dogs did great. We all had to learn how to keep them in line to prove that we’re holding them to the same rules their fantastic trainers and fosters did.

We did more of the corrections when we were working on how to help the dog follow our lead when we are walking. When the dogs are not in a “heel” command they can walk at our side in any position provided they aren’t pulling on the leash. It’s a “free walk”. Our dogs have not learned our pace yet however, so we have to teach them. They adapt fast though as we bring the dogs around the room turning 180 degrees to go the other way to make sure the dogs are paying mind to our movements. You master this in the training room not because they think it’s fun to have the dog walk around a confined space with you for a prolonged period but it makes you more prepared for the moment you walk out of the training facility. Brooklyn and I did great in the middle of the room but at the door, she wants to run ahead. Outside is fun and different, so she is ready to go. A little correction is needed to bring her back into pace and she does a beautiful job afterwards.

Also, on the topic of outside, I have to say she’s a potty time rockstar. That’s all the details you all need.

The day ended with the fun stuff. We did “shake”, “five” and “high five”. Brooklyn is so giddy to do whatever you ask, especially when she sees the treat bag. She gave any child who asked any one of those three commands… but she preferred J. It helps that the best treats come out around J. These commands are part of a group of fun tricks the dogs all know to help create social bridges for the children. Children with special needs often have a difficult time making social connections with peers and adults but with their dog, they can offer to show them the tricks their dog can do to start a dialogue. This will open a lot of opportunities for them, and J just loves getting “five” from his girl.

I know I am missing things. The day was hectic but tomorrow we bring our girl back to the hotel with us. This will be when it sinks in with J that this is for real, even though he did call her his dog a few times today.

As ever if you have any questions, feel free to ask!

For now a couple of pictures that you might have seen already:


A boy and his girl.


Like this face won’t melt hearts.