Saturday, December 1, 2012

Zenzi's 8th Puppy Class

Zenzi, Rick and I all got to go to puppy class this morning.  We didn't do a lot, but what we did was VERY good.

  • Conditioning to enjoy being handled by a stranger (or your owner, depending):  hand toward face, hand on head, hand on collar, collar grab.
  • Loose-leash walking (LLW)
  • Leave it + eye contact
  • Puppy Play Time (PPT)
The conditioning to enjoy being handled was VITAL for Zenzi.  She doesn't mind strange people, so long as they mind their own business.  While this is by no means a problem, I would like her to enjoy being petted by other people.  Sherry taught the class again, and worked with Zenzi for me.  Zenzi did make some progress.  Initially, she shied away from Sherry's outstretched hand, but with more reps Zenzi let Sherry touch her on the head.  Sherry did progress to a collar grab successfully, but that was not consistently allowed by Zenzi, so we ended that on a high note when Zenzi was okay with it again. Rick and I practiced, but Zenzi has no trouble with this exercise with either of us.  Much to our surprise, Zenzi did seem uncomfortable about the collar grab -- we helped her overcome that in short order.  Perhaps we did it to well, she would put her paws up in our laps and shove her neck into our hands. =P

Loose-leash walking was good practice.  I discovered that when we're working, Zenzi is favoring my right side instead of left.  We'll have to work on that.  I want her to be ambidextrous.  W&W teaches it by having you gain focus from your puppy in front of you, then take one step backwards, encouraging the puppy to follow you and when they do, C/T.  We are able to take several steps without an issue... or at least we used to!  Now Zenzi started to forge ahead of me by going to one side or the other.  She remembered how this game is played in short order, and we even progressed to practicing some heelwork.

Leave it is fine if it's within the structure of treats in my hand and she has to back away.  Zenzi's got that down.  She vehemently does not like adding in eye contact after backing away!  She offered everything under the sun except eye contact when I withheld the reward.  She did eventually give me a few good ones, so we called it a day.  We're going to make a project of this.

Puppy Play Time was really good today.  There was a huge puppy dog, Clifford, who must be some sort of Anatolian/Mastiff mix; Dino who is a husky mix; and Princess, the papillon again.  Zenzi allowed herself to be sniffed while she and I played fetch with her favorite toy.

Dino was pretty reactive during class to Zenzi, which she tolerated admirably.  They were only a few feet away, and he was staring her down and barking/growling pretty impressively.  Zenzi looked at him as if to say, "Hey, chum, what did I ever do to you?" and never returned a bark, growl, snarl, or anything.  Great social skills, Zenzi!  During PPT, Dino sniffed Zenzi, and Zenzi sniffed him back slightly uneasily, but continued happily in the context of our fetch game.  She was pounced on by Princess, and followed around/sniffed by Clifford.  None of this was of much concern, because wow, fetch!  After a few good throws, Zenzi even sniffed out the other puppies from a slight distance.  Yay confidence... finally!  We had a few times of "Call your puppies, leash them up, ask them to sit, and release to play again."  I'm really glad Sherry includes this.

Then it was the end.  We had a really good class, and I got to talk to Sherry and Gretchen afterwards.  Gretchen assisted the class today, but didn't work with us, only the new large mix puppy.  Gretchen teaches agility classes, so it was good to meet her.  I liked her instantly, she radiates pleasantry, happiness, and calm wisdom.  Zenzi warmed up to her pretty quickly, too.  Both Sherry and Gretchen agreed, nose-hand touches in greetings are the absolute best thing for Zenzi right now.  She can determine her comfort level, and decide whether going to touch is okay or not.  So we're going to be doing a lot of that.

I've been fairly lax with her general training lately.  Time to step that back up again.  Sherry brought out a lab who has been in bootcamp at the facility for two weeks.  It was impressive, inspiring.  Off to work... :)

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