I am not even going to attempt anything close to doing a full and detailed account of each of these days separately. I can’t. My brain, she done checked out and ran for cover somewhere far from where we are at. It’s been 10 days now of intense information, practice and trying to accommodate maybe half of the stuff you do in your regular life into busy training days.
It’s tough stuff. Forever and always worth it, but this is my boot camp and I am getting schooled hard in service dog handling life.
The past couple of days have included two practice tracks, one of which J was allowed (while supervised) to run pretty solo towards a playground on which he could stay so Brooklyn and I could track him. This is one of the single most real world scenarios we’ve done yet for J in terms of how we’d use Brooklyn’s search and rescue skills. J is attracted to slides, swings, bodies of water, trains, large vehicles and buildings that look like farms (sheds, etc.). Him being in constant motion on the playground was extremely like him and gave me a very, very good idea of her true focus – was it on J or on another family member?
I am pleased to report she sure did find her boy. She waffled a little when the path got overwhelmed with scent from an outbuilding but picked it right back up. A squeaky swing also drew her attention but not only did she snap back to tracking mode, we had a learning opportunity to bring her to the swing and create a positive experience so she’s less likely to be distracted by it again.
We have done a lot of obedience work. This does not end when we go home, nor does tracking or tethering training. We will always be finely tuning our skills as a team and her skills as a service dog. Here are some of the newer commands:
- “force push”/side: When commanded with a hand gesture while she is in a “down” position, she will roll onto her side, relaxed like she were knocked over by someone using “the force” Star Wars style. Brooklyn struggles with this and ends up laying on her back paws in the air. It’s pretty funny. I told the trainer I broke my dog.
- roll over: Exactly as the command implies, Brooklyn rolls over. She loves this command! She does it giddily!
- over: J is a deep pressure guy. When he’s unsettled, there’s little that calms him more than squeezes or a weighted blanket or both. Enter Brooklyn. When J is sitting with his legs straight out or on the bed laying down, she can be directed to lay across his legs, applying her body weight like she were a warm, fuzzy, loving weighted blanket. She adores this as well as the lap command as she knows it means cuddles. Cuddles are huge to her, their own treat really!
We’ve done a lot of our beginning commands off leash as well as just on a training collar now (commonly referred to as a choke collar but suffice to say if it’s earning this name, you’re using it wrong). Brooklyn aces this in class but kind of goes full goofball at home. Like J in a new place, she’s testing her limits and learning them piece by piece.
The not so glamorous part of dog life is that Brooklyn is young. We’re new to her and she is new to us. Accidents were highly likely and we’ve had two now. The head trainer explained that whenever something goes goofy, analyze the befores and afters. What was different? What was the same? Can you establish a pattern? We’ve now learned when to take up Brooklyn’s water and also that she needs to go out a few more times. She does not have a distinctive “pee impending” set of behaviors. It’s calm one moment, the dam breaking the next. Now we know, and now we also know how to play cool, clean up and move on with our lives.
Here’s some pictures, none of which are of potty fail: