Over the weekend, Bernie and I decided we needed to get serious with our prep work for our Canine Good Citizen Class. The CGC test is a mere five weeks away, so we decided to see how many skills we could pack into a Friday afternoon visit.
Out for a Walk (Walking on a Loose Leash)
Bernie actually walks really well on a loose leash. In general, he responds well to me, changes direction as I do, and pays attention to my cues. The archways, pillars, fountains, and greenery at la Encantada make fantastic obstacles to walk around and weave through. Plus it's great exercise for both of us!
Walking through a Crowd
On the Friday afternoon over Tucson's Rodeo Break weekend, there were a fair number of people shopping and eating. Walking along the various promenades wasn't too crowded, but the courtyard outside the Apple Store had many people coming and going.
Bernie and I spent some time meandering around that courtyard area. Bernie did well following my cues and paying attention to me.
Sit and Down on Command / Stay
Last spring and summer Bernie and I really worked on his sit-stay and down-stay.
The photo below shows him in the courtyard outside the Apple Store. Even though we were walking around La Encantada before any shops were open, the Apple Store employees were milling about waiting for a store meeting to begin. Boy, they were loud! The perfect distraction and Mr. McSquare kept his perfect down-stay!
Since I forgot to bring our 33-foot training lead on this afternoon trip to La Encantada, I decided to improvise by tethering Bernie to the super heavy metal benches that are placed around the shopping center. We started upstairs outside of Tiffany's. This promenade leading to the back parking lot sees some people traffic, but is usually not overly crowded.
Bernie was doing well. I backed up at least twenty feet a few times to ask him to change from a sit-stay to a down-stay and he did well. Several people walked by and he remained where he was.
Reaction to Distractions
Here's where I went too far.
Bernie was doing so well with his sit-stay that I decided to run by him as a visual distraction. I've run by him before and he's ignored me. But on Friday, two people walked by on the other side of the bench, so at the same time they passed him, I ran right by Bernie. He stood up and wanted to see what was going on.
He wasn't panicked, barking, or showing any sign of distress or aggressiveness. He just seemed curious.
I gave him the verbal "uh-uh" mark and I heard one of the women who had just walked by say with a sigh, "Oh, he got up; he wasn't supposed to.." I didn't say anything because I was focused on Bernie, but don't worry kind stranger. Bernie McSquare bounced right back!
Reaction to Another Dog
After a few more practices with sit-stay and down-stay upstairs, Bernie and I moved back to the Apple Store courtyard and found a bench to tether him. This courtyard had much more activity.
One lady who was texting on her phone was going to walk right by Bernie. Possibly too close to him and I truly didn't think she saw him. I started walking toward him just as she whizzed by my guy. He looked like he might get up, so I gave him a gentle "uh-uh" to settle him because I saw that zippy shopper lady would clear his space. He stayed where he was and when I got to him, he got lots of treats and pets. People at one of the courtyard tables who were watching sounded impressed.
And then I was impressed by my boy.
La Encantada is dog-friendly so there are almost always other dogs there. This kind couple with a tiny super cute pup, maybe a Terrier mix of some kind, saw how well Bernie was doing. When I put him in his next sit-stay, they walked by keeping about four or five feet of distance between the dogs. They also placed their dog on the side farthest away from Bernie. Their dog remained perfectly neutral and Bernie stayed!
At that point, I did not care that he got up to see what my goofy butt was doing running at him upstairs. A total stranger and another dog walked right by my guy and he kept a solid stay.
One of the best training moments I've had with my Bernie!