Jul 212017
 

Today we did some work training in the morning, and quickly cleaned the barn, but the highlight of the day was the trip to Kings Landing to go canoeing with the dogs!

We can fit two or three kids and their dogs in each canoe and go around a short circular canoeing path or simply canoe up to the “swimming hole”, with the rope swing and the diving platform, and spend the day there.  There are things to climb on and logs to sit on and we can run up and down in the water with the dogs.  This is always one of our favorite trips!  Even though some of us had never been in a canoe before, we all did really well and had a great time!

Tonight is our camp sleepover, where we spend the night in the barn (or even outside, if the weather holds) with the dogs.  Tomorrow we will make ourselves breakfast, and have a busy day before graduation at 4:30 pm!

Jul 182017
 
Today we doubled down on crate exercises and their variations (bed, hula hoop, and pedestal). The dog is *generalizing* its crate skills — staying in place until released not just in a crate, but in a hula hoop, on a bed, and on a pedestal. The dog is also adding “getting onto a pedestal”, “lying down on a bed”, and a variety of other skills to its arsenal.
 
After lunch we got to work for our fundraiser, where we hope to raise $400 for United Against Poverty. We all made nifty key holders with paw prints, hand prints, and other messages on them. Along with baked goods, we put these up in the Doglando store and are hoping for donations!
 
We got out on a field trip today! We took a brief trip to Panera Bread, one of our favorite destinations. We took a walk around the outside of several stores, met some nice people who were interested in our dogs, and grabbed some food for a restful break before heading back to Doglando to clean up.
 
Jul 132017
 

This morning we worked hard on loose leash walking.  It is a complicated concept with a lot of parts.  Not only do you have to hold the leash carefully so it does not tangle the dog while still remaining loose, you must present your reinforcers promptly and in such a way that the dog can take them, all while moving faster than the dog and anticipating and guiding the dog’s movements.  It takes a while to get it right!

Afterward we practiced getting our dogs’ attention.  It is surprisingly difficult to get, and keep, a dog’s attention while there are other campers, other dogs, and loose kibble lying around.  This time, we tried to keep our dog’s attention for two minutes, armed with both a toy and kibble.  We got to try different toys and tactics to keep our dogs interested in us.

After lunch we took the dogs swimming — and this time we got to get into the pool with them!  We guided our puppies around the pool, helping them to build stamina and learn to move in the water.  We also made ourselves available to the puppies as a place of safety — they could swim to us and we would support them in the water.  Some of the puppies got a little overenthusiastic and tried to climb us like trees!  We had to remind them that it is not nice to use humans as jungle gyms.

While the puppies rested after swimming, we took a “field trip” to an ice cream shop!

In the afternoon we added hula hoops to crate exercises — allowing us to increase duration, distance, and distraction while giving the dogs a target (the hula hoop) to help focus them (and us).  Then we cleaned the barn, and had a little quiet naptime to round out an amazing day!

Jul 122017
 

Today was full of training that was surprisingly hard work.

We worked on adding duration, distance, and distraction to the dogs’ crate exercise skills.  This means we practiced those skills but added more time waiting in the crate before release, added more distance between the handler and the dog, and added distractions for the dog to ignore.  We all did very well but practice will make perfect!

We went outside to work on loose leash walking but it was very hot and we went back in quickly so the dogs could get some water and cool down.

After that, we learned about how difficult it can be to be a dog if the trainer does not present reinforcers promptly and in a position which makes them easy to eat.  To demonstrate, we had to pretend a string was our “trainer” and eat the donuts it was offering us without using our hands, just like a dog would have to.  It’s surprisingly hard to eat things without being able to use our hands to control them!

Then we took a rest in the air conditioning, and learned about how people breed puppies for sale at pet stores, and the surprisingly awful things that can go into cheap pet food.

After lunch, we took the puppies swimming for the first time.  Swimming is an important confidence-building skill for puppies.  They learn how to use their bodies to move in water and learn that they can float in water and successfully exit the pool.

After swimming we did chores and cleaned out the barn, and took a well-deserved rest.  More excitement tomorrow!

Jul 112017
 

Today we jumped right in to training with crate exercises and loose leash walking.  We are not perfect yet but everyone made a very good start!

Crate exercises teach the dogs about waiting for a signal to move or leave the crate, but mostly they teach the humans the basics of training: setting up the environment (or “antecedent arrangement”), giving cues properly, and proper timing and delivery of reinforcers.  Loose leash walking teaches the humans how to use their body to give cues to the dog, rather than using the leash.  It’s all very complicated but we are learning fast!

In the afternoon we gave everyone a bath and nail trim.  Then, while the dogs were resting, we caught up on some of the details of crate exercises and loose leash walking: defining terms like behaviorinteractionpositive, and reinforcement so we have a better idea of exactly how we are communicating with the dogs.

At the end of the day everyone went out to take a break on the grass outside, so that we can continue to build our relationships with our dogs!

Jul 112017
 

Today we learned about Doglando, where everything is and what we need to do to keep our dogs healthy and happy.  We learned how to hold a leash properly and how to clean the crates and pick up poop.  We visited the enrichment dogs and learned about how Doglando takes care of their enrichment dogs.

We went on a field trip.  We visited Petland, Orange County Animal Services and Pet Alliance to learn about how people go about getting dogs, and what happens when the people and the dogs don’t get along.  We learned about how people adopt dogs and even met an adoptable dog, Star.  We also learned about habitats and how habitats can shape behavior later in life.

Then we worked with each dog, and made our selections.  It only came down to one game of rock-paper-scissors to choose who worked with whom!  Everybody got a new and interesting partner to work with and learn from for two whole weeks.

Jul 032017
 

The last day of camp is always bittersweet.  We have some of our most memorable moments, because the dogs are by now used to working with us and trust us to help them through strange spaces, and we can do things like visit public beaches or — as we did today — visit senior care homes and interact with the residents.  Imagine trying to do this on Day One, with the dogs fresh out of the shelter!  But today everyone was happy, peaceful, and enjoying receiving kibble from complete strangers.

We also visited Full Tummy (without the dogs), to meet the people and animals who benefited from our bake sale fundraiser.

Then we showed off everything we’d learned in the last two weeks in our graduation ceremony!  Despite rain bucketing down and rattling off the barn roof, everyone did very well, both dogs and kids.  We’re always so happy to see how everyone has grown and changed in only two weeks.

Afterwards came the sad part — we had to say goodbye.  Some of the dogs, including Xena and Harry, were adopted right out of the graduation ceremony!  Some of the dogs, including Girl, had meet-and-greets scheduled after graduation.  Anyone who did not get adopted does not need to worry — Pet Rescue by Judy is there for them until they do find their forever home, which will be EASY with all the work our campers have done with them!

It’s hard to say goodbye to the campers, too.  We all learn so much from each other.  Hopefully we will see you all next year!

Jun 302017
 

Today started off with some more work on “down” (adding distance, duration, and distraction) and recalls, as well as some loose leash walking along Colonial Drive.  However, we stopped by 10:30 am because the big hit of the day was canoeing/kayaking, with the dogs, at Kings Landing!

After an hour long bus ride we loaded up, three to a canoe, with either two or three dogs with us.  There were some people with us who did this trip last year and remembered how to canoe with a dog, and there were some new people who had never even canoed before.  Everybody worked together and now we all know how it works!

Kings Landing has a big open space with clear water, a sandy bottom, and a rope swing that you can grab onto and let go and land right in the deepest part of the pool.  It also has about a mile long loop of quiet river along which you can canoe and occasionally see wildlife.  Everybody at least tried the rope swing, or jumping off the dock, and everybody ran around in the sandy area with their dogs.  The larger dogs seem to like the water most — poor AnnaLesa, with her short little legs, did not like being in the water as almost everywhere was over her head!

Many campers took the chance to canoe around the little loop and saw some alligators and turtles and fish and all sorts of birds from the safety of their boats.

On the way home, we stopped at Twistee Treat (for one bus) and McDonald’s (for the other) and everybody got some ice cream.  The dogs slept almost the entire way home — what a day!

Tonight we have a SLEEPOVER…and tomorrow morning, graduation day, starts promptly at eight!

Jun 292017
 
Today started off with some work on the recall — we went out in the Tree Tops area with the dogs on a long line, one or two at a time, and practiced recalls with them. Then we went out and walked along Colonial Drive for a bit, getting better at working through distractions.
 
After that we reviewed our homework, and talked about learned helplessness and how that can affect training.
 
Just before lunch, Mari and Trenton from Canine Companions for Independence stopped by, and we got to learn about how they train hearing alert dogs for the hearing impaired. Trenton alerted Mari to all sorts of noises, including an alarm sound he’d never heard before, and correctly led her to what was making the noise!
 
After lunch we hopped on the bus and rode to Greenwood Park, where we practiced recalls — a little bit — mostly we just ran around and had fun. Some of the dogs were more willing to go into the lake than others — some were just content hanging out peacefully with their human in the quiet.
 
When we got back we did cleanup and then had some quiet time. Looking forward to another eventful day tomorrow!
Jun 272017
 
Today was another busy day. We reviewed previous training and then added “down” on the pedestal, duration for sit/stay, and more finesse on loose leash walking.
 
We walked all the way down the driveway and walked up and down on Colonial Blvd (on the sidewalk!), getting the dogs used to the sound and feel of traffic and then walking in tight formation with other dogs.
 
Afterward, we learned about how stimuli in the environment can affect how well we work with our dogs, and how well our dogs work with us.
 
Then we went to Panera Bread for lunch outside with the dogs! We did a little training there, but mostly we ate lunch and said hello to a lot of nice people who were interested in meeting our dogs. We always refer them to Pet Rescue by Judy!
 
After Panera we visited Lowe’s to expose the dogs to another new environment. We walked around in the lumber department (which was pretty empty) and then moved over to appliances and let the dogs get used to the sound, smell and feel of stove and fridge doors that open, drawers that slide, and anything else we could get to move.
 
When we got back to Doglando the dogs were TIRED!, so we let them take a well-deserved nap in their crates while the humans went swimming.