After yesterday’s positive dog park experience, I was really looking forward to our training session today – and it was a really good one.
Gail is almost as good as our great trainer back in Maine, Diana Logan of Pet Connection Maine. I mean, who can beat someone who has not one, but two, extremely well-behaved Standard Poodles? And to top it all off, loves Max to pieces? OK, I’m biased… but that does not lessen the fact that Diana is an amazing trainer.
So, Gail reinforced some of the things Max and I learned early on with Diana – things like clicking/treating when he turns in my direction, getting him to touch an offered hand for a click and reward, playing hide-and-seek and rewarding him for coming.
He’s a willing worker, and a fast study so he was zipping between us in no time as we called him back and forth. As a matter of fact, he was bounding to Gail any time she said his name and a command (partly because she had different treats from me and he liked them, but also because he recognizes someone who “speaks dog!”)
She gave us a homework assignment for the week to work on getting him to pay more attention to me by playing games, playing hide-and-seek, using toys as well as treats to reward him. Basically, reconditioning him to focus on me, and reconditioning me to be consistent and to keep him engaged at all times.
She also gave me some insights into why recall can “fail.” If your dog doesn’t consistently come when called it can be because he has perceived it as “punishment” and that could be as simple as taking him away from smelling something like a bush or a tree. What to us seems like a reasonable request may appear to the dog as punishment or deprivation of a pleasant experience (sniffing new spots, for example).
I told her how sometimes at home when we are at Mariner’s Park, as we get a certain distance from the car, he will run off and refuse to come near me. That’s because he doesn’t want our play to end.
She gave me some good tips on how to keep him coming, without spoiling his fun. For example, when I leash him up to go to the car, keep playing games with him – a tug toy, ball, touch and reward, etc. – so that the playtime is extended and he doesn’t feel deprived.
All in all, a great session, and I look forward to working with him this week on our assignment, and returning next Monday for another class.
After that, we went to the vet… Seems Max still has some healing to go. The stitches are staying in longer – the vet says they are self dissolving and not to worry about them. He still has a little swelling around the larger cut on his head.
The two big road rash scabs are another matter. Seems the one on his shoulder is doing okay, and will more than likely continue to heal on its own. The one on his back, according to the doc, is “dead” and may need to be debrided. If so, he will need to be put out while they do it, and may need stitches.
We are returning in a week for a followup, and in the meantime, I have a spray antibiotic/cortisone to use on the scrapes every 12 hours to help them heal. I’m hoping that the one on his back heals up on its own and my guy doesn’t need more procedures.
We took a walk around the neighborhood this afternoon, and there were two young boys, maybe 10 years old, in the park about a block away. They came over to meet Max – “Is that a poodle? Is he or she friendly?” Then “What happened to him?” When I told them he was hit by a car, they gave him a LOT of sympathy.
We spent a fun 10 minutes talking while they patted Max, and asked me what tricks he could do. Most of the time, (after greeting the boys enthusiastically) Max sat patiently by my side.
I showed them some of his tricks like “BIG UP!” where I say that and he springs straight up in the air off all four feet. They liked that one a lot.
Max shook hands all around, and we headed off for home again.
And that is Monday in a nutshell…