Paws in Motion Adventures Day #5 – 3/27/12

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In this our 5th session of Adventures, we had quite a few success stories, and personal achievements from some of our regular Explorers, and even from some of our first timers!  Even though some of our regular Explorers were out traveling this week, we had a record number of attendance when 4 new dogs joined our ranks.  We would like to give a great big welcome to Marley the Bulldog Mix, Bella and Simbad the Cavalier Siblings, and Missy the Rat Terrier Mix, who joined Satya the Bulldog, Higgins the Standard Poodle, Millie the Rhodesian Mix, Sammy the Cattle Dog Mix, Bruno the Boxer and Cooper the Golden.  It was quite an exciting play session in the morning with so many new faces joining in the game.  Some of the new comers joined right in, like they’d always been here, others weren’t ready for the bustle of play time and relaxed in their crates or stayed closed to us on leash.  That’s OK, they can go at their own pace.  As Higgins the Standard Poodle proofed this week, they will all eventually be able to handle it, it just takes time and some consistent guidance!  Some dogs need special help or aids, we might keep them on a long line or muzzle while they adjust, but slowly with the help of their Expedition Leaders and fellow Explorers, they catch on to the fact that they are safe, and are here to have fun….that’s what this is all about!

Car rides were a dream, now that everyone is settling in to the routine and getting used to being nice and quiet in their crates, so by the time we went on our field trip, everyone was relaxed and happy!

For this day’s Adventures, we decided it was time for some SHOPPING!  Most dog owners today, love to take their dogs to pet stores and spend the day looking through the aisles, experimenting with new products, and browsing through their inventory.  These activities are always much more enjoyable with a well-behaved dog by your side, so we decided to give our Explorers some help on this department.  Pet stores offer us the opportunity to introduce our Explorers to strange dogs, strange people, a variety of caged animals, and of course the bustle, and equipment that is normal to these places.

We divided the Explorers into three teams:

Group 1 was Bella, Simbad, Millie, Satya and Higgins

Group 2 was Sammy, Missy and Satya

Group 3 was Bruno, Cooper and Marley

We paired up dogs according to their needs and either help make things easier for them, or challenge them according to what each dog might be working on.  For example, Bruno the Boxer is a very nervous and insecure male, who also likes to sometimes get protective or posture against other males, he worries about noises and sudden changes in the environment.  Because outings make him nervous, and he might need some reassurance in public places, we tend to walk him one-on-one in the beginning, so one of our Leaders can concentrate on him, but also in the company of other male dogs (handled by another team member) so he gets used to being around them.  We also try and make sure that he is surrounded by our most stable, confident and best behaved Explorers, so he can follow their lead and feel safer in this environment.

The same was true of our new Explorer Missy, who’s just been rescued from the shelter, and is still very nervous and insecure of strange places and new people.  With Missy, we used Satya as a “Stabilizer Dog” since she’s one of our more friendly, outgoing and confident Explorers.  Its really interesting to see the dynamics that develop in these cases, and how some dogs really latch on to this help.  If you look closely at some of the pictures of Missy while in the store, you’ll notice that she tends to stand close to Satya and Sammy, sometimes even sitting hip to hip.  She even followed their lead and went into a long duration down stay while we practiced in the store and was able to hold it for several minutes, even though she doesn’t have much training yet!

Millie was used as a large, sweet and friendly dog to help Bella and Simbad get used to walking in the same team as a larger dog.  With Higgins the Poodle, we make a point to walk with a large male dog and small dogs, since these are the hardest for him.  Cooper and Marley, both large male dogs in their prime, have a harder time walking with each other than with anyone else in the group, so they got a chance to walk together as an introduction, so they can slowly get used to one another.  All in all, everyone did GREAT, and was challenged!!!

The store was buzzing with activity – it was inventory stocking day, so it was full of handcarts, pallets, lifts beeping and moving trucks.  Dogs greeted store employees and showed off their good manners for other customers.  They saw birds, rodents, other clients dogs, the dreaded automatic doors and carts, and greeted other customers including a pair of little girls that gave Millie so many kisses and attention, that she wanted to go home with them!  All dogs, including our newest Explorers were able to practice long downs and sit stays in the store and outside, with all the distractions going on.  We took note of some of the particularly difficult distractions for each dog, and plan on continuing to work these in future outings.

After the store, and walking around the mall, sitting by the storefronts and walking by the cafes, it was back to Paws In Motion.  We decided to REALLY test our explorers, and after some training sessions, we took them out one at a time and introduced them to a long down-stay pack.  We started with 3 dogs and brought in one dog at a time, until we had 8 of our 10 Explorers lying comfortably next to each other and relaxing in a group stay.  It was a beautiful sight to see them so relaxed and comfortable with each other!!!!  The last 2 Explorers left early, but we are happy to report that the other 8 were able to hold their positions in a down, EVEN while those two were being picked up by their families!!!!!!  HUGE ACCOMPLISHMENT FOR THE DAY!!!!!

All in all, a wonderful busy day for everyone.  We really look forward to our next Adventure, please make sure you email us ahead of time if you are interested in having your dog join us!

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