The Manhattan x Keeley, Huey x Myrtle, and Matthew x Turtle litters brought public training to the Galleria last Thursday evening. Training sessions in public venues are an integral part of the Helping Paws curriculum. Our dedicated foster home trainers provide these experiences 2 -3 times per week for the dogs they are training.
The Twin Cities community has become more and more dog-friendly; one sees pet dogs in stores, and on restaurant patios when the weather is warmer. The expectations for a working service dog in public are much higher than for a pet dog, however, so our foster home trainers start out slowly when bringing the dogs into public settings, building skills and confidence as they go. The Manhattan x Keeley and Huey x Myrtle dogs are older than the Matthew x Turtle dogs, and you will see in the photos that the older dogs had greater access, and greater challenges, than the younger dogs on Thursday’s field trip.
An important attribute for a service dog is to remain calm in a public setting. Sometimes the dog is given a cue to Drop/Stay or Go to Bed; at other times the dog needs to simply “chill.”
Fraser falls asleep when chilling.
Katy and Mare demo Go to Bed in front of a store.
Jeff and Jenga hanging out quietly.
Brodie, focused and calm.
Dogs at this age (12-14 months old) are perfecting strong Loose Leash Walking and Watch skills – they walk nicely on lead, and focus on the foster home trainer rather than the environment for guidance. This means they are eligible to train in stores with fairly wide aisles, and to work on Under if there are desks/tables available.
Summit has a keen Watch when in Barnes & Noble. Fraser works on Under.
Minnie remains focused on Sophie as they walk thru the store.
Sarah is able to walk Fraser close to shelves – his attention is on her.
Service dogs must never bolt ahead of their partners. Our dogs-in-training learn Wait at doorways and intersections of stores.
Mare Waits for Katy’s next cue.
Jenga is high-spirited but has learned to Watch and Wait.
Annie and Jill exit together.
A key part of training in public is setting the dogs up for success. The Matthew x Turtle pups are almost 10 months of age. Their public training venues consist of common areas of malls and lobbies of government and community centers. These wide spaces provide distractions but are less challenging than inside stores.
The dogs and foster home trainers spend a lot of time perfecting Watch. In this photo, we are using the dogs as distractions for each other – this is similar to what we do in class, but with the added challenge of the public environment.
A.J., Abbott and Amos.
Loose Leash Walking is a tough skill for a dog to master – there are so many other things to see and sniff! These dogs did well when set up for success in a common area versus a store.
Loose Leash Walking in a common area of the mall.
Abbott doing a left turn.
And, these younger dogs also need to master calm demeanor in public. We practiced chilling at the end of the training session – higher change of success when the dogs were more accustomed to the environment and somewhat tired from working. :)
I am relaxed. There is no dog behind me.
Amos and A.J.
Thanks to our dedicated foster home trainers, and to Renee Duncan for capturing this in photos.