Thursday, October 6, 2011

1st Puppy Class Field Trip

Our CCI class last night was held at a Pet Store, and boy was it an eye opener! The rules were to allow each puppy to roam with the goal of always maintaining a loose leash. IF they wanted to sniff, climb, experience toys, then it was okay. If they were pulling, we needed to find the correction.
Hanging on a cat pedestal by one of her favorite buddies - my son.
Haddie has always been good on her leash - maintaining loose through all of our explorations. Until ... last night. The smells and pups her own size got the best of her. Yes, she pulled, but not the entire time. Yes, she got excited to greet her classmates, but not the entire time. She was still successful, but it was nothing like an outing 1:1 with me.
Suppppppper Pupppppppy!
So happy she did not fly off of  this!
And that is where I am wondering if my outings need to be puppy-exploring, versus "acting like a service dog."  Thoughts, Fellow Puppy Raisers?
Haddie getting ready to go Under.
Example: when just Haddie and I are training inside of an establishment, I have Haddie stay away from sniffing and exploring. She is walking loose on my side, and then we'll stop to practice commands of Sit, Down, and Heal.
Haddie could care less about the fish.
But was highly interested in the dirty fish water
sitting in this bucket. 
Versus: when we were training last night, she was allowed to explore, sniff, walk on and under items, and get her noise into stuff, so long as she didn't steal with a bite or a lick. Should this be my common way to socialize her to new environments? And if so, when do I transition back to "typical service dog behavior" of not allowing the exploring.
Our trainer making noise with the drum
 for one of the newer pups in class.
Last night was fun! I can see why many choose to do what we do. Not only is it exciting to see a dog experience newness, but it is enlightening the challenges as a Puppy Raiser to experience newness with a puppy. The support of fellow raisers is incredible - we seem to all know where the other is coming from with our questions, successes, and thoughts. And our instructor is top-notch. I enjoy her style and expertise. She is so confident - it makes you feel confident (even when you might be messing up). She helps get you back on board that you CAN do this, and then life with puppy just seems to work.
Haddie's Favorite aisle!!!
Happy Puppy Raiser + Happy Haddie = Happy 1st Field Trip.

(Credit to my hubby for coming with us to take photos. Thanks, Honey!)


  1. So glad she had a good time!!

    Mind you, I haven't raised a puppy yet, so I can only pull what I know from fellow owner-trainers, and observations working with Holly.

    I think that up to a certain age with SD prospects, the outings ought to be focused on socializing. Making sure the puppy has a wonderful time, and gains confidence while working in public. Perfecting things like, proper greetings, basic obedience, etc.

    For me, I plan to start training in earnest at about 6 months old. It may take less time, or more time, depending on her temperament and learning pace. I, personally, will start introducing SD behaviors only after she's solid in basic manners. I wouldn't want to expect my pup to be perfectly behaved all the time, she's a puppy and I need to remember that.

    Part of why I think Holly washed out for stress in public, was my pushing her before she was ready, so I do not want to make that mistake again. So there's my two cents for what it's worth! Sorry for the long comment.

  2. WOW, what an interesting outing and question. I don't have an answer. We don't get their capes till they are older, so maybe that's what the difference is - but I've always let them explore when out of cape, but in cape made them work for it (age appropriately of course). But, that doesn't mean that is the "right" way.

  3. That is a good question. I am not sure what CCI prefers to have done, but at guide dogs for the blind when the puppy is in jacket we prefer to keep them in working mode but if they seem curious or unsure of something we let them explore then once they are fine we get them back into working mode

  4. Thanks for all the helpful comments. Perhaps it is not clear-cut as I thought - I will ask our trainer and then share. Thanks for the thoughts and advice!!!

  5. This is a good topic and it never occurred to me that there might be slightly different approaches being used for the CCI puppy raisers in their classes. I think your gut is correct and how you were approaching the outings was and is the most desirable. In our region and puppy class, wearing the cape was "work mode" unless given the "release" command. For puppies that are a little more insecure, they need a confident handler and LOTS of rewards and repeated exposure to situations they have difficulty with. You still have to teach all the other commands, but getting them out can be more about exposure and building a confident puppy. The classes should provide you with the tools and opportunities to practice different skills and training techniques. You will find even in service dog programs there is a lot of different opinions, just like raising children. The key is to learn the different techniques and apply them as needed based on the puppy you have, where they are in their development, and the specific situation. Based on your posts, you were already doing that intuitively. Remember to Treat, Treat, Treat while they are young and keep training fun and happy good times. Sorry for the long response.

  6. Lori - Thanks for the response! This is great info and matches what our trainer responded with last night when I asked her the question in class. I will make a followup post about it. I want to learn from Everyone - so the longer and more learning tips in comments, the better for me and Haddie. =) Thank you!