Maybe one of the things that keeps us working with these dogs is that they never stop surprising us by their capacity to learn new things, no matter what age they are. Monday, Banjo learned how to ride an escalator, mainly how to get on and off without letting his little toes slide under the stairs (ouch!)and not being afraid or hesitant. This is an abbreviated version of the training, please do not take this as a step-by-step "how to" guide!
We had Chris come up to Madison, which we are so appreciative of! and she first took Banjo, got his focus, standing by the escalator, letting him hear it and see it, then away and back again, and then away they went, up and down, lots of "Yes! Good Boy!" (I think we used 2 small treats between the 3 of us for the whole session & 95% pats and encouragement) and up and down again, praise, praise, praise, and Banjo's tail was literally wagging as we watched him ride the moving stairs up & down again and again--and yes, we had our camera, but we were so focused on the training, we didn't even take it out. It was our turn next, Lisa took the leash, a little bit of coaching from Chris (don't hesitate, walk right on, walk right off)and away they went, no problems, then Jeff and again, no problems. Banjo had literally caught on in 5 minutes, but we rode a few more times, went in a group to simulate a crowd, followed some strangers up, just anything to cement it in his brain and ours, making sure the humans were confident and could transfer that confidence and sense of safety to the dog when needed. By jove, he's got it!
Routinely, puppy raisers would never be given the task of teaching the dog the escalator, but we had Chris who has done lots of advanced training, and we were completely confident in her, and because of our trip, we wanted to at least have the option of taking Banjo on an escalator when we needed to use one, rather than have to avoid them at all costs.
It would be easy to look at Banjo at 1 year old and think he knows what he needs to know to start harness training, and sit back a bit and take a break and give him a break. There might even be some trepidation when we think "I don't know if we can teach him, I don't know if he can learn this," but it is all replaced with much exhilaration and pride when the dog "gets it"! And for Banjo, it was all just a game, something new and fun, and he saw it was making us happy, which meant he was happy--he would have rode up and down all day long! It must be what keeps seasoned dog trainers training when so much is repetition, repetition, repetition. It makes you remember that this is a team effort between you and the dog when teaching a new skill or cementing something you have already worked on. It sure makes us want to find the next challenge to teach him! Good Boy!!!