Paws In Motion Adventures 4-17-12

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Another Adventure Day at Paws in Motion is gone and past, and boy did we have FUN!  Joining for the first time this day was Ellie the Jack Russell Terrier!  This tiny little girl is full of personality and spunk, and came to camp to learn some better canine social skills and enjoy the new experiences and interaction.  On her first day, she joins: Millie the Ridgeback Mix, Maya the German Shepherd, Bruno the Boxer, Cooper the Golden, Kohengi the Chinese Crested, Sinbad the Cavalier, Sammy the Cattle Dog Mix, and Satya the Bulldog.  WELCOME Ellie, we hope you had a great time and are looking forward to your next session, we know we are!

After seeing the great interaction among our Explorers last week at Lourdes’s house, we decided to let them have a long off leash session in the morning.  They played together for quite some time in a fully fenced back yard, and we were able to introduce little Ellie to our full pack of Explorers, who were all running loose together off leash!  It was quite an exciting morning, and we made sure to give them breaks and to interrupt any who got over excited.  During this play time, they also got to meet two visiting dogs: Zohe the 14 year old Labrador who gave everyone some lessons on living life to the fullest, and Elphie the Black Pug who gave the group a run for their money!  All the Explorers were GREAT with the new additions, and showed appropriate greeting and play behaviors.  It is very rewarding to see all these dogs interacting together, and to see how their social skills progress and mature from session to session.  How some of them have learned to enjoy play and time with other dogs, and how some others have learned to tamper their excitement and rough play to make another feel more comfortable.  Dogs really are amazingly adaptable and learning constantly.  Its great to see an example of how, with consistent guidance, they can adjust to any rules and routine.  Some of the dogs in the program had never even been crated, now they come in first thing in the morning and walk right into their crates and settle down to wait for other Explorers to come in!  Amazing!

After the exciting morning session, Explorers headed back to Paws In Motion for a well deserved break in the A/C 🙂 The plan for the afternoon was to focus again on the sport of Rally Obedience.  Rally is an AKC recognized sport, in which a handler and dog team must heel, while following a sequence of signs, performing the behaviors designated by each.  Its a sport that is measured by accuracy and speed, and its main purpose is to prepare a dog to walk nicely by its handler’s side and follow directions.  A great activity to challenge the dogs’ loose leash walking skills and response to basic commands.

Depending on their specific needs and progress, we had different criteria for each dog while going through the course.  Some of the Explorers practiced “Braced Rally”, while others performed individually so we could focus on teaching some of the behaviors or improving their performance.  Ms. Ellie even got to “hang out” so she could get accustomed to the signs, the cones, the props of the sport, that can be a bit overwhelming for first-timers.  In Braced Rally a team of 2 dogs and one handler walk through the exercises  together.  This was great practice for some of the more nervous dogs who need the reassurance of another of their peers, or a good challenge for the more advanced dogs who must perform even if they’d rather be playing with their canine partner.  The competition factor among the dogs also provides them with incentive to perform better, so they can get the “cookie” first, which makes for faster sits, more responsiveness, and better overall performance.  Its also good practice to prevent resource guarding, since they are inevitably learning to wait their turn to get their treat, and that they can’t protect stuff from one another.  Positive associations are inevitable – for most, the lesson becomes: if I obey commands when I’m around other dogs, I get cookies!  A very POWERFUL message!

Once everyone had gone through their Rally training, it was again time for some FUN!  We let the dogs have a bonus play session, and were gratified with the results….Bruno the Boxer, a shy and nervous Rescue, who’s in camp for the socialization and the different experiences, who on his first day was too scared to be part of most of the activities, gave us a glimpse of the playful and engaging dog he can be when he relaxes completely.  He wasn’t just hanging out with the other dogs, he wasn’t just completely off leash with the other Explorers….oh, no….He play-bowed, he flirted, he chased, he pawed, he was full out soliciting play with the other dogs!!!!!  It was impossible to see him and not know that he was HAPPY!!!!  Such a monumental step for this boy!!!!  Hopefully we’ll be able to reproduce this feeling for him many more times to come!

It’s so WONDERFUL to see the differences in our Explorers and how they have improved from session to session.  Maya was quite EAGER to go in her crate, to jump in the car, to PARTICIPATE!  Millie and Cooper performed the Rally Course well enough that they would have earned a qualifying score if it had been a real competition.  Sammy again was a perfect gentleman all day, after a tiny spasm of naughtiness in the morning – not to mention how QUIET and relaxed he was in his crate during the car rides and breaks – this was the puppy who didn’t stop crying in the crate the first day he was here!  Kohengi is another one who not only has improved tremendously in the crate, but his canine manners have gotten SO MUCH better, he’s no longer afraid of big dogs on site, and was actually able to concentrate and perform BEAUTIFULLY during his Rally round!  Cooper was of course PERFECT, he’s a great role model that we often use to help some of our nervous Explorers, so with him we focused on accuracy and prompt response to commands.  He was HAPPY to rise to the challenge 🙂 Simbad is being very good around the other dogs, is no longer growling at other males or posturing, and was actually quite happy to play with Kohengi, another intact male.  Satya was SOOOOOO happy to be able to join fully and completely in the off leash play!  She was recently spayed, so the past few weeks, we’ve been very careful not to let her overdo it.  This week, we finally let her off the hook, and let her play to her hearts content – even roll in the mud like a piglet 🙂 We’re looking forward to seeing more of these changes as they continue to learn and EXPLORE!!!!!

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