Yesterday I used my awesome Shepherding skills during our Saturday morning Pit Ed class. I help co-teach an obedience class for Hug-A-Bull, that focuses on showing owners of dog-reactive Pit Bulls how to handle their dogs' behavior in public. It's really a pretty amazing class, actually. We get in dogs that will lunge, and twist around, and go totally batshit on leash when they see other dogs, and in 6 weeks we can turn their behavior completely around. And while the dogs may never actually learn to get along with other dogs, their owners can now at the very least manage them on walks.
So yesterday was our class graduation, and we took the dogs to Trout Lake (stupidly big off-leash dog park, here in Vancouver) to proof them. My job was running interference, with Shelagh (the head trainer) leading and watching at the front, and me taking up the rear and sides of the group. I had to either block or run off dogs that got too close. Gotta have good eyes for a job like that, I tell ya. O___o
Normally, I would say taking dog-reactive Pit Bulls to a large off-leash dog park was bloody insane, but all in all everything went very smoothly, and it was very controlled. Actually, a lot of the other dog owners were very respectful and kept their dogs in control, because they recognized that our group was training. All things considered, out of the six dogs we had, (one of them being an older Yellow Lab that was from Shelagh's all-breed reactive dog class) only one of our Bullies was considered even remotely reactive. Two were puppies who just needed severe focus training, and one was a senior who was a rescued bait dog who just needed more socialization training.
It was a very good class, and the next one doesn't start up again until March 14th, so I can take a break for a few weeks.
Registration for my Petcetera classes has been growing. I've been getting calls from people like every other day, asking about obedience classes... it's crazy. My Thursday evening class is a dog-aggressive Golden Retriever, and that case has been a real fun one. I kind of had to break Petcetera's Only Positive Motivation Training rule, (ie. no prong collars, or choke chains) and recommend a prong for this client's dog. I'm sorry, but for a case like this, where the dog has already jumped a fence and attacked another dog, and also barks at people and vehicles passing by, and the owners have absolutely no control over her on walks... I'm going to do what's in the best interest of the dog and owners, because at this point their dog is a liability. If my Supervisor knew, I'm sure I'd be fired... but I don't care. I'd rather a client have success with training and handling their dog, and so far, after only two weeks, they are getting very positive results. Last week I brought Penny (my Chihuahua) in as a distraction, and we can now have their dog approach and sit calmly three feet away, with very little reaction. This week I'm going to bring Mojo in as a distraction. That should be fun. :3
Tomorrow I have a new client with a Presa Canario who has severe anxiety issues. I'm so excited! XD