Monday, March 28, 2011

Out For A Walk

After I posted my blog from this afternoon, I did some digging around on the internet and emailed a few other guide dog schools to see what their procedures are in relation to getting working dogs over to the UK. Mr. K also suggested that I go for a walk with just Glacier and I over to Subway to buy a sandwich and see how he did. I didn't want to. In fact, I was quite resistant, but after a hot shower and a pep talk that I gave myself, we went. I'm glad we did.
On the way there, he did quite well. His shoulder work was good and he paused at curbs the way he is supposed to. I had to verbally correct him when he forgot to step closer to the shoulder at one point but other than that I tried to keep the short walk positive. I used my "happy, let's go" voice and was overly dramatic when he did something good. We made it to Subway with not a whole lot of issue. The only thing is that he was a bit hesitant and was a bit too light in the harness at points. Once in Subway, he found the counter no problem and didn't sniff the chip bags that were displayed right at his face level. I continued to praise him excessively. When leaving I asked him to find the door and he found a table near the door instead. I gave him a light leash correction, but then happily asked him to find the door. He got it the second try.
Our way home was good too. I did a lot of encouraging and talking. He didn't jump curbs and the best part was that he traffic checked. Let me repeat that...
He traffic checked!!!! I set him up, but he did it!
We had a party for that one. I heard a car coming parallel to us and waited to see if it would turn. When it sounded like it was going to pull in front of us, I asked Glacier to "forward" and he refused. He even shifted his weight back to his back legs, letting me know that under no uncertain circumstances was he moving.
When approaching the house he decided the neighbours' house was more interesting, but after I got Mr. K to come out and yell, Glacier found the house no problem. He got a small correction for trying to go up the neighbours' stairs instead of going straight like I asked him, but it was a fairly good trip. The best thing was the traffic check. He was confident and even though I asked him to go "forward" he planted his paws. I was testing him and he passed.
It's definitely not where I want it to be, but it's an improvement and it makes me feel like he can be retrained. And I can be retrained. :)
I did two things differently than I have been more recently.
1. I didn't put his New Tricks on: that is a head harness that gives you better control over your dog...kind of like a Gentle Leader or Halty with a better design.
and 2. It was just the two of us.
Mr. K made a good point. We quite often travel together as we are usually headed to the same places. He wanted to see how Glacier would do just the two of us and he did much better. Again, not fantastic because I am a social person and like meeting people for coffee and such, but promising because it shows that he probably can be retrained.
All in all, it was a confidence booster for both of us I think. Tomorrow I will pick another simple route-with no street crossings-just to go get us out and working together; build up our trust and confidence. Now let's just hope Leader Dogs for the Blind will want to retrain us. I also think that having him on leash has already made a difference. He's listening better and his response time is much quicker. Baby steps right? :)
PS: Thanks to everyone for their words of encouragement and suggestions. The next little while the blog will probably be full of Glacier updates, so bare with me. :)


Frankie Furter said...

It almost sounds as though Glacier might not be feeling like he NEEDS to do his job.. maybe he was letting Mr. K do it FOR him. Is that possible?
I'm thinking that the re-training will do the trick. Glacier sounds like such a wonderful fellow.

TheBlindGuyreviews said...

I think he tends to rely on Roscoe and me, or whoever happens to be with us. I think the biggest part of it though is that he seems to not want to work. If its just Jess and him I think it gives him more motivation to do just that. The downside is that Jess is almost always with someone and most of the time its Roscoe and me.

L^2 said...

It's good to know that Glacier can still work fairly well when he really needs to. I think that's good evidence to support the idea that follow-up/aftercare training with Leader Dogs would be a worthwhile venture for you guys (as opposed to just retiring him and starting over with a new dog).
As part of your going back to basics plan, you may just have to work with Glacier alone for a while to help reinforce with him that it's his job to take care of you, not to just rely on Mr. K or whoever else your with. Just like when we're in training, we started out working our dogs individually; then later, after we had the basics down pretty well, we got partnered up for doubles.

Jen said...

Well done for actually doing something about it. It can be very easy to follow the same routine every day. Its not that Glacier isn't clever or isn't able, but if there's another dog in front, he's naturally going to concentrate less.
It should be easy to get him back on track, and I think your doing it the right way by doing small walks by yourself.

My friend's dog is similar because he always goes places with other people. Unlike you, he has no intention of changing this, and blames the organisation for the problems his dog is having. Its a very intelligent dog but I feel like he's being sort of wasted as a guide dog. Probably not my place to say.

Keep encouraging them mr. K!

Jess and Glacier said...

I think all of you are spot on. The one thing that worries me is that Glacier and I did a lot of work on our own before Mr. K and I moved in together and these issues still existed. I think they have just gotten progressively worse, but I am heading home on Saturday, so we'll see how he does; just the two of us. Thanks again. :)

Torie said...

Jess Jess Jess! Wow!!!! That is a much much much better mood than your last entry!

Good good good good good good good good bo'o'o'o'o'o'o'oy Glacier! When I read that he did the traffic thing it was like yay!!!

I'm glad my suggestions weren't bad :). Maybe try just the two of you for a few days, then gradually introduce your other routes again......then introduce Rosco and Mr. K. And don't they say it takes a good year to solidify a good working bond? Keep things positive though. If you need to correct, do it, but if you don't party!

Take care, and hope the rest of your walks go well! Xx.

Brooke, said...

When Phoenix and I were working together I found that he would sometimes get lazy on his work when I had other people with me. He would expect them to guide me and would often day dream while on our walks with others. I got Phoenix when I was a lot younger though so I didn't realize this was an issue, but with Cessna I've been really careful not to allow this to happen. Often Huib will walk ahead of us or follow behind so she has to work and pay attention.

I think it's harder for you guys though because as Mr K said, Glacier has probably gotten into the habit of just following without thought and with it being still on the early side in your working relationship it might have caused a little more trouble in other areas. Hopefully the trip home, without Mr K and Roscoe to rely on, Glacier will get back into the habit of thinking for himself and working for you, rather than just going through the motions.

Donna and the Dogs said...

So happy that Glacier traffic checked! Fingers crossed that he can be re-trained!