Graduation season is upon us. This week, my oldest graduated from high school (go Zena), my middle from middle school (way to go Callie) and Bubbles graduated from her second round of group training classes. Graduation day for puppy class consists of a modified version of the classic (and now sadly out of print) board game My Dog Can Do That.
This game allows for piecing together the basic skills into real life valuable behaviors -- some functional, some decorative. It's a great example of pulling together all the elements of The Six Pillars of Dog Training Wisdom: Distractions, Distance, Duration, Structure, Management and Training. Middle School Graduate Callie (a self avowed cat lover with a soft spot for golden retriever puppies) was handler for Bubbles. This appreciated talent of my daughter, to help Bubbles learn to respond not just to a professional dog trainer (me!), but to a big hearted and quiet teenager too, helps in this young dog's continued development as a service dog. In this clip from last night's final class, the task was to place treats -- one treat every foot for 10 feet! -- and then call the dog WITHOUT the pup eating any treats. As you can see, she got halfway through. But for a first try, I was really impressed both by Callie's communication as well as Bubbles' focus on her young handler's actions. But sporty dog (food motivated!) she is, and the treats were too tempting. But I'm sure with a little practice (how else do you get to Carnegie Hall?), Callie will have her doing the full trick in no time.