The past few days have been pretty busy for Bradley and I.
We had our thrice weekly training session with Laura. We went to a grocery store we’ve never been to before and Bradley’s performance was mediocre. He was definitely over stimulated; this seems to happen most in grocery stores, for some reason. Laura didn’t think he did bad but I was a little disappointed. I was confident that we were making incredible progress over the past couple of weeks because Bradley had been demonstrating such improved behavior. Unfortunately, he got a little loopy in the grocery store. However, he did much better than he did the first time Laura and I took him to a Stop and Shop for a training session.
On the bright side, these days, when we take Bradley out for training (several times a week), if he’s having an off day, it’s not because he’s out of control or anxious. While there are certain situations in which he’ll get a little stressed, it’s never to the point that he’s uncomfortable about being at that particular place. I’m grateful to have spent so much time socializing him as a puppy because now, the only challenges we have are skill training and waiting for him to mature more.
On Saturday, Bradley and I went out with Laura and her boyfriend. Laura administered a practice public access test with her boyfriend as a helper and her service dog as the helper dog.
Bradley failed the public access test; not terribly though. I consider the experience, as a whole, a minor success. While he didn’t pass with flying colors, he’s made a tremendous amount of improvement since I started working with him on public access training.
One most significant improvements he’s made is being able to share tight quarters with strangers without soliciting attention. Bradley has never met a stranger; he treats everyone as if they’re his long lost best friend. It’s an endearing quality but not the best for keeping him focused on working. Luckily, as he’s matured, he’s gained much more self control.
His biggest weakness used to be children. If there was a child under 12 years old within 50 feet, all bets were off. Every ounce of his being lived for approaching the child and engaging in an extreme face licking, butt wiggling session. Within the past several months, he’s slowly established the ability to ignore children unless he’s sure it’s OK to interact.
Now, our challenge is for him to learn self control while interacting with strangers. While he can ignore others in his surroundings, for the most part, if they initiate interaction by approaching him to pet, he forgets his manners, breaks his sit-stay and gets all wiggly. This is one of the areas that he failed on the PAT. The other was failure to ignore food on the floor at a restaurant. He ignored the plate of foot placed next to him but ate a crouton that fell, midway through the meal.
We didn’t do any training today. However, we did have a very pleasant day! Joe and I took Bradley and our Papillon, Louie, to a game refuge for a morning of walking through the woods. ( It was at this game refuge where Joe proposed to me on Christmas Eve 2006.) Bradley had a blast running around, took a brief swim in the pond and we even bumped into a team of 3 SAR (Search and Rescue) dogs! Below are some photos from trip.
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