Sunday, June 30, 2013

Canada Day Long Weekend - Spencer's Adventure

It's weird doing things without all the dogs - especially day trip type things. I feel naked. And bored. I didn't have my camera either, so no pictures = feeling even more naked!

This weekend some family invited me out to Lake Newell (think Brooks, Alberta) to go to the beach for the day since it was supposed to be crazy hot out. Since we were going to the beach to hang out (they don't allow dogs on the beach) and I was going with family with small kids who weren't bringing any of their dogs I wasn't going to bring any of mine either.

However, busy outdoor location with lots of dogs and people affords some good training opportunities to work on reactivity and the beach also has a boat launch area that dogs are allowed on the beach at (so dogs can swim or at least be tossed in the lake to cool down) - so I decided not to pass up a decent opportunity and I'd bring just one, so I could still relax and chill at the beach if I wanted.

Since Spencer needs positive exposure to situations like that, but is also the quietest and happiest in a kennel he got to come along.

So proud of my baby dog! His behavior was nothing short of phenomenal! Or at least that of a "normal" well behaved dog.

When we got to the campground he was good with my 3 y/o neice running around. He's not 100% with children and he isn't off leash with them, but we've been working on counter-conditioning kids and it's starting to really pay off. Their erratic motion and noises still scare him, but he bounces back looking for cookies.

He was a little worried and quieter than he would normally be without one of the other dogs to back him up, and I would have brought both boys but then poor Penny would be lonely and sad. However, he still was a good little dog and said Hi nicely to my 14 y/o cousin and my Aunt. Didn't bark/freak out at either my cousin or my uncle which I thought he might do. He was also mostly correct in his behavior with their dog (he snarked once when she got near his kennel but otherwise ignored her.)

He was so good in fact that I just leashed him to his soft sided kennel and left him loose in the shade when we went to the beach. (The kennel was tied to a tree in case he tried to take the whole thing for a walk somewhere.) I could see the site from where we were at the beach, but he just laid in his kennel and was quiet - not even barking at or with the dogs in the next site when they started barking.

To break up just laying on the beach we went for a walk and met/ran into a 12 week old great dane puppy. I was talking to the owner from about 10 feet away and Spencer was a little amped up about the puppy but quickly re-focused and sat quietly. It defiantly helped that the puppy was calm, but to not have any outbursts out of Spencer was fantastic behavior for him!

We also tried going swimming again. I'm super happy that it was a success! The last time he tried to swim out in the Pass he had a hard time picking his toy up in the water and scared himself. So I went hunting for a floating toy that would hopefully be easier and found a floating Chuck-It bumper. I just wasn't sure if he'd swim to retrieve something other than a super high value toy like Yellow Ball. Not only was he happily swimming to retrieve the bumper, he was playing tug with it on the beach despite the distractions of strange noises and people near by.

During supper he just voluntarily laid and slept in his kennel again, it was a pretty long day with a lot of action for him. He made me look like a fantastic dog trainer though, especially since my "problem" puppy/dog was behaving better than my aunt's 6 year old dog was. It also makes me happy that what I am doing is working - it's just harder to see results when all of my dogs are together and they are behaving with pack mentality.

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