Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Retraining Day 3: "Taking It One Step At A Time" Tuesday

So yesterday was another busy and productive day here at LDB. I was up before the alarm again and quickly took Glacier out to "Park." His relieving schedule has been very predictable and I am thankful for that because the students with their new dogs have a bit tougher time getting their dogs to go when they are supposed and to not go when they are not supposed to. It's all part of being a new team and I am grateful that Glacier can do his business in a timely fashion. :)
In the morning we went out to where LDB does their "country travel." This means we are in an area without sidewalks. Every experienced student and trainer I know groans when it is country travel day because it is not an easy concept for the dogs to get. D told us that training a new dog to follow the shoulder and not wander out into the middle of the road makes her back and shoulders hurt. I was equally nervous, but for different reasons. In sidewalkless areas Glacier has been giving me a hard time. I knew that going into this we may have a frustrating morning, but I sucked down two cups of coffee at breakfast and was too hyped up to remember that I was supposed to be stressed out. LOL The morning was cold, but the sun was shining and the birds were singing and I decided that Glacier and I were out on a beautiful morning walk.
Things couldn't have gone better. He hugged the shoulder like a champ and hardly strayed away from his line of travel even when side stepping sewer covers. We had two streets to cross and I was a bit concerned he would just blow right by them, but he stopped and took cues very nicely. We got to make the trip twice and the second time was our only small incident.
J has been telling me to go light on the leash corrections so I have, but it is so instinctual to reach for the leash when I want Glacier's attention. Upon arriving at our second street, I heard a little yapper across the street letting us know that he/she was there. Glacier was pretty focused and crossed in a very nice straight line. I was impressed, but once we reached the opposite curb he couldn't keep his eyes off Mr. Yappy. Not knowing what else to do because my leash hand had been retired, I started hopping up and down and calling his name excitedly. He snapped out of his little staring contest quite quickly and stared puzzled up at me. That little instant of his eyes on me gave me the time to point right for our next move and away we went. I couldn't do anything but laugh. Later J said over a phone consultation "kissy noises are quite effective too you know?" We both laughed and he  commended me on my enthusiasm. J and I have been having either in person or over the phone consultations after each training session and I think they are extremely beneficial.
In the afternoon we were back to the down town training centre where people worked in doubles. This means that students work in teams of twos and take turns leading. I wasn't paired with anyone as we are still seeing how Glacier does on his own. Plus, no one walks fast enough to keep pace with the Fat Head and I. LOL  We walked a sixteen block route and he was great. We had one instance where his confidence dropped off and he sort of  was hesitant in his harness, but with a bit of encouragement from me he was good as new. Pointing in the direction I want him to go with leash in hand really makes a difference. J even said I am allowed to do light leash corrections now and even though I used one for excessive sniffing, Glacier didn't shut down. This is  a huge step for both of us.
After our afternoon session we headed back to the campus for dog watering/feeding times. The humans endulged in Potato Toppers, salad and a crazy weird peanutbutter bar. I ate half the bar just trying to figure out what was in the stinking thing. I finally gave up when the marsh mellow stretched clear up from my plate to my mouth. Enzo's Mama, Kenzie's Mom and I nearly peed our pants laughing at our speculations of the mystery bars. We finally were able to ask the woma who serves us our meals and she confirmed that they had peanuts and Chinese noodles in them. They were not tasty and not because of the Chinese noodles, but more because they needed chocolate and a bit more sugar. :)
We didn't have lecture last night, so it was early to bed for Glacier and I. We were both worn out from our day. I went to bed feeling hopeful, but still keeping in mind that it was only the second day and that these changes may not stick if/when we leave LDB. The familiarity of  and structured environment may be what is causing the changes in Glacier. On the other hand, I haven't seen him this excited to work since our first year together and he is taking initiative when making guiding decisions. J even said he tried pushing Glacier out into the intersection when they had their little walk on Monday and very instinctively Glacier shoved back. All of these things are promising and so we'll see if Glacier and I both continue down the right path.
PS: Thanks for everyone who is coming by to visit our little blog. I really appreciate all of your comments and once I am in a normal living situation again, I promise to stop by and visit you too. :)


Anonymous said...

Glad to read the good news! Maybe Glacier was just stuck in a rut and needed some motivation. Happens to all of us at times :-) I hope the renewed enthusiasm sticks!

Brooke, Phoenix, Cessna, Aspen & Canyon said...

So glad to hear you guys are doing well :) I tried to find the toll free number for Leader, but could only see the one they list for calling the admin section of the school. Wondering if I should just try that number... Might do that...maybe I'll call you tonight....but then I don't wanna wake you up if you decided to head to bed many decisions lol!

Sarge said...

Hey Glacier!
Hang in there...we're all behind you and we know you can work this all out! Paws crossed for success.
Grr and Woof,
Sarge, COP

Kolchak Puggle said...

Thank you for sharing all this with us! I never really knew how very much goes into making a good team and it has been really cool to read your blog. So thank you - we're rooting for you and Glacier :)