Well last night was the 4th Tuesday of the month and that meant Puppy Class!! We decided to do something different this class and I loved the ideas. We worked on stimuli that would scare the puppies. Here's the background to why we worked on these things tonight:
CCI, after turn-in, performs a variety of tests on the dogs to see how they react to certain things. They check everything to see how a dog's temperament is and how they perceive certain people and objects. For example, they have one of the trainers dress up as a scary person and then have the dog interact with that person to see how they would react. Most dogs will be a bit hesitant and then wander over to see what this "thing" is and then usually they are fine with it. They also test them on prey drive by attaching a plastic bag to the end of a rope and waving that across the floor down a long hallway to see what the dog does. According to LA, most dogs will want to play with it, eat it, or pounce on it. There are the few that get freaked out from it and those are the dogs that get released.
We, as PRs try to expose our dogs to everything that we can think of. So one of us went online and tracked down a list of stimuli that can be used to test dogs with. It had a lot of the same stimuli that LA had explained to us at the PR Workshop last month.
We worked on walking across different surfaces. This time we used a shower curtain and tin foil. The tin foil was the one that most of the pups had a problem walking over. Nuri thought it was something to play with and also wanted to stay sitting on it and didn't want to get off of it. One of the little puppies, Wilbur, who is 3 1/2 months old, had a blast on the tin foil when it was all rolled up. He wanted to play with it and then he just stretched out and made himself comfortable! It was hilarious!
We also worked on strange sounds from an unknown area. Some volunteers went behind a wall and clanged metal chairs, sticks, tables, and anything else they could find that would make a lot of noise. This was a way to see how the pups would react around unseen sounds. Most of them were a bit startled, but recovered well and some just plain out ignored it. I think Nuri was more interested in the food bags that were in the corner that we passed by! There was also an exercise we did where two people went behind a table placed on its side and used whistles and a duck call thing to make noises. The dogs were in a Down Stay and had to stay there while the sounds were made. If I remember correctly, they all stayed where they were supposed to!
Another stimuli we worked on was the opening of an umbrella. Now I know that CCI uses this test on the dogs that are turned-in because it was used on our first pup, Hadlee, and she freaked out and couldn't recover from it and was then released. So we had a few people go around and pop open umbrellas in front of the dogs. Most jumped a bit at the sound and motion, but they all recovered from it well and most of them went to inspect the umbrella to see what it was. We did it from a bunch of different angles and directions so it was a good exercise to work on!
Another good exercise we did was the surprise of seeing an unknown object while walking around a corner. We had a table on it's side and a stuffed dog on the other side, out of view. When the dogs came around the table, they were surprised to see the dog and some were scared by it. I knew that Nuri was not going to be a fan of this one. When we were out at Sears one day, she freaked out about a stuffed dog in the Land's End area of the store. We haven't had much time to work on that, but last night was a good test for her. On the second pass by the dog, I let her sniff it and inspect it. After awhile she was a bit better with the stuffed dog, but not completely convinced. We're going to have to work on that some more.
Over all, it was a great class since we worked on a lot of things that we know the dogs will be tested on. I believe that we are going to try a walk through Morristown as our next class which is always fun.