Friday, October 15, 2010

Blaze the Demo Dog

Today Blaze helped to teach vet students how to restrain and get lateral recumbency. Meaning the dog ends up flat on his side!

Nine years ago before a show, it took at least 4-5 people to hold Blaze down to get his nails clipped. And today he was calm while he was rolled/flipped/moved dozens of times. The instructor was very good at it, but (understandably!) the students were initially less coordinated.

I shouldn't be surprised at how well Blaze did, after all I did sign us up too volunteer. But most dogs probably wouldn't be so calm and comfortable, let alone on 30th time.

The lesson was very well done and did a great job of using the activities in Sophia Yin's Low Stress Handling book/materials. The students learned not just one way of completing a task, but that there are many options with some being easier or a better choice in certain scenarios.

The most brilliant and most obvious piece was getting the dog into a down. In a training context, we think about shaping, capturing, luring, or using a target. In this context, the students needed the behavior right away, it wasn't a training task but something that needed done right away. Still, there were options.
* Ask the owner to ask the dog to Down
* Ask the dog to down
* Lure the dog
* Put the dog into position (pick up the feet and stretch...very refined from what some dog trainers do in this scenario!)

And that can circle back to something Megan and I talked about today. Adequate training and optimal training. But that deserves more thoughts for another time.

Over the next few weeks we'll be helping out again. I was really hoping Griffin could go and be around a million touching people and then he'd be ready for any stand for exam. But if Blaze ends up being the only dog who can do the Down station, then Griffin will just stay at home.

We'll be going to a tracking workshop in the morning. I'm not sure if I'll be taking Blaze or Griffin. Blaze has learned a bit about tracking but I'm stuck with articles. Griffin has had less training, but I really want him to learn properly and I'm tempted to stop with the baited tracks and do HITT... but that's what I've said since he was a puppy and we never got ANYTHING done until I started doing food a few months ago. Maybe I should flip a coin...

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