Friday, June 26, 2009

2009 Ohio 4H Teen Dog Experience Camp

Blogger keeps freezing up every time I open the page. It's taken a few days to get this up.

Griffin and I had a fabulous time last weekend... four days in beautiful SE Ohio. We were at the Houstons new(ish) facility to host the Ohio 4-H Teen Dog Experience camp. To make the week even more exciting our friends Megan and (four legged) Bailey came to help teach.

We had four instructors, eleven campers, and our nurse. That resulted in sixteen dogs and sixteen people in the two cabins. It was an adventure! I love camp and it improves every year. The kids come from all over the state to learn more about dog training, dogs, and 4-H. We teach them about obedience, agility, tracking, and many other things. There are traditional camp activities...campfires, giving the other cabins a hard time, and crafts (making tug toys!).

Luna has gone with me the past two years, but Griffin came along this year. He was fabulous! This is a difficult environment for dogs, but we managed it with a few tricks:

1) The Manners Minder: I kept this in a corner and the kids were happy to assist in reinforcing him when he would remain in place. I used it at night to help him settle.
2) Rest: Rest is as important as activity! He only came along to a few activities in the training barn, but participated in activities at the Cabin.
3) Assistance: The kids (and instructors!) were fabulous. They fed and pet him for sitting. They did not feed or pet him if he jumped up. They reinforced other good behaviors. They followed my training rules for him.
4) A strong Leave It: Griffin has been taught to leave plates/bowls of food alone. This results in interest on tabled/plated/countered items...but he resists the temptation. He was able to pass through the many kids eating without taking a single chip. The sight of the plate is the cue for him to Leave the item.
5) Meal Time Behavior: I don't mind begging...and teach my dogs how to do it appropriately. This started when Luna was a puppy and spent a lot of time around small kids. She very quickly learned she was supposed to lie down in the presence of food...thus she was not taking food from the kids.
Griffin offers a chin target (rests his head on laps), which is a little more up-close, but I don't mind it and do prefer to know what he's up to when we're eating in public! The kids were happy to go along with my directions on feeding him for this and he was happy to offer it to everyone. Even with his nose near a plate, he does not touch the items on a plate.

We can't wait for next year!

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