We went to Oxford for Chance's social and obedience training and for me to see how he reacts in a busier city. This helps me to decide which person to match him to on our waiting list. If he is not relaxed in Oxford then he will not be suitable for someone who lives and works in busy city centres like London or Birmingham for example.
We took the park and ride into the centre and he was relaxed and well behaved on the bus. I was training him to sit in a position by my side out of the way of other passengers getting on and off. I was pleased with his behaviour and confidence levels in the city centre. Early on the trip he was a little wary of a passing noisy cement truck, and he looked like he really wanted to chase the pigeons at one point, but with the help of some nice treats I persuaded him to focus on me and walk past. Otherwise he was fairly easy to manage and he greeted people nicely. He is also starting to wear his uniform now in town.
We went to the park and walked by the River Cherwell with another hearing dog, Wren – a Cocker Spaniel cross Poodle. They enjoyed running around and we did some recall practice varying between voice and whistle.
As Chance was happy in Oxford overall I will be taking him to London next week. If he is looking happy and relaxed I will take him on the tube and into the centre of London. This is to progress him further in terms of busy social and environmental situations which will give me even more of an idea in terms of what sort of lifestyle he will be suited to if he finishes his training. We always try and make town trips positive for the dogs by rewarding their good behaviour and interacting with them in a fun way.
Chance is now alerting me and leading me to the phone in the same way he does to the doorbell and the cooker timer. When the sound happens he will come and touch me with one paw. I give him a treat for coming to tell me, then I hold my hands out to the side and ask ‘what is it?’. Chance runs to the phone and points towards it with his nose. If he does it right, he will get several rewards – a couple of treats, a fuss and some praise from me and maybe even a fluffy toy to play with for a minute. Since he is in the early stages of this training, I stay in easy positions for him to alert me, such as sitting and facing him with the phone not very far away. As time goes on I will progress this and make things more difficult and lifelike. I will explain more on this in future blogs.
You may remember that in week 5 I explained that Chance goes out every weekend to a volunteer socialiser to give him some free time as well as giving us an idea of how he is in a home environment. Now that Chance has been with his socialisers for several weeks and they have formed a bond, I feel they can now start letting him off the flexi lead. Some dogs need to stay on the flexi lead for longer at the weekends for training reasons. I have been giving Pam (his socialiser) lots of advice on how and when to recall him and how to reward him. For example when Pam calls Chance back to her and he comes straight away she can get the tennis ball out and have a game with him. This will teach Chance that it is fun and exciting to run back to Pam. Also, sometimes Chance is reluctant to give the ball back when he is playing with it, Pam can get another ball out of her pocket and as long as Chance drops the other ball he will get the second one thrown for him to chase. This teaches Chance that it is rewarding to drop the ball near Pam.
That’s all for this week, but look out for next week’s instalment to find out how we both get on when we venture up to London. Anyone for some shopping?
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