Kuna, although he's not a pit bull, was my demo dog for Kahuna's K9s. I've mentioned before in posts that Kuna has a big responsibility - he's my bomb-proof dog. From the moment he came home with us, we've been working on his behavior in public and his ability to handle stressful situations with ease. This isn't automatic and he's certainly not done learning - we train every time we leave the house.
My expectations are pretty high:
- walk where I indicate (beside me, behind me, in front of me)
- stay focused on me, despite distractions
- greet with a loose-leash
- wait patiently if I stop
- your mouth is not for exploring when we're working
The list goes on and on!
Well, I'm proud to say: Kuna performed marvelously this weekend!
There were highly-reactive dogs, dogs in costumes, crowds of people, megaphones, speaker announcements, fire trucks, clickers going off everywhere (give a high school student a free clicker and you can imagine the insanity), there was even a little girl with paint on her face looking like a cat, wearing an elaborate costume! It was so detailed, it made me do a double-take!
K needed a lot of breaks and tons of chicken to make it through the event. We even brought his favorite toy and I would take him outside and tell him "you're free!" and play a few games of tug. Then, it was "Let's work!" and we were right back to business. When he was tired, I had his settle mat underneath the table for him to relax on. Towards the end, he was so tired, he jumped up on my lap and fell asleep!
I was surprised with how well he did. At the end of the day, I did a systems check and realized I had a pounding headache, my legs were tired and my face hurt from so much smiling. K was definitely exhausted, but he still had it in him to keep playing a game of tug while all the chaos came to an end.
There was another trainer there, James from Training by Julie (another positive-reinforcement dog training business run by Julie Jacobous - Awesome!) He had his Border Collie with him, who was lazily hanging out in his crate throughout the day. We talked about how our dogs were so well desensitized that it was just another day at the office for them. You can definitely pick out a clicker-trained dog!
I have the high-hopes of taking Kuna to Clicker Expo one of these years. Bringing your dog to a crowded event is a tough decision. Most of the time, it's too much for both the human and the dog to endure. There are the exceptions - some dogs are so well conditioned that they actually enjoy these types of events. Although Kuna did well this weekend, I'm still evaluating him to see if he'd be one of the latter: a dog that loves crowds. It's not just training that will get him there...I need to see that he actually wants to do it. Only time will tell...
I'm very proud of my little guy and a big thank you to John for all his help on Saturday!
They both made me, and Kahuna's K9s, look good ;)
(pics coming soon!)