New year, new blog. I decided to move the Who’s a Good Dog blog over to WordPress. I use WordPress a lot for school, and I’m more familiar with what it does and how it works. My previous blog efforts can be found here and here. And they’re also linked on the About page.
This past Saturday was a miserable, rainy day, but Arlo and I had the pleasure of spending it with some good friends at a workshop on shaping with Pam Dennison. The workshop was held at Let’s Speak Dog, where Arlo, Katie and I have been training for awhile now. Pam showed us how to teach a bunch of cool tricks like riding a skateboard (which Arlo was surprisingly keen to try), and doing a hand, er, pawtstand (which, because he’s so long-bodied, I didn’t ask him to try). She also showed us how to teach a bunch of practical things like wipe your feet (which can be the beginning of teaching your dog to file his nails) and targeting various body parts (chin, cheek, shoulder, hip, etc.), which #1 is just cool, and #2 comes in handy when, for example, you’re grooming your dog or on a visit to the vet.
Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of Arlo and me training, but I did get one that I think is maybe more significant: Arlo relaxing in his crate. A workshop environment like yesterday’s is a hard place for Arlo to be. He’s highly sensitive to his environment, and being in a room where a bunch of unfamiliar dogs are coming and going can quickly send him over threshold. He alternates between wanting to greet dogs and worrying about them. Properly introduced to unfamiliar dogs, he’s fine. But in this situation that was just not possible, so I needed a plan (and thanks to Renee Hall our trainer and owner of LSD for helping me).
Another friend and I made arrangements to get to the workshop early and set up near the back door so that we could take breaks with our dogs as needed. Like Arlo her dog needed somewhere to go if activity in the room became too overwhelming. So, in between the torrential downpours that we were having yesterday, we were able to pop out, walk the dogs around, and then return.
And it worked like a charm. Arlo was anxious at first, but eventually he settled down and even dozed off. At one point, I was standing all the way across the room, and I could see him calmly looking out from his crate while other dogs were training. I felt so proud.
In addition, when he was out of the crate and training, he was focused and–more importantly–having fun. The last time we tried something like this was at a Treibball workshop a year ago where the unfamiliar dogs and the activity were just too much for him. Yesterday wasn’t perfect, but for the most part he was focused and happy even when unfamiliar dogs were also working close by.