Our Saturday started early with a long walk. We had the park to ourselves, so we practiced a few recalls. Most of them went well, but on a couple Monte couldn't resist and detoured for a run through the snow. After a reminder/correction, he was much better. The cold was not a factor, the temperature was a balmy 10 F, but the salt from the sidewalks needed to be brushed off Monte's feet a few times. No such luck this morning; the mercury reads -12 F.
After our breakfasts, we stopped by the veterinarian's office to make a healthy visit. We stopped to show our healthy dog, thank the vet for his efforts, and get a quick weight (63 pounds), before dashing off to the mall.
We were scheduled to sell coupon books at noon. Since we were ready early, we arrived at the mall at about 10:30. We did some shopping and practiced some STAYs and recalls in the real world. At noon the onslaught began and people of all ages gathered to meet our puppies. It was two hours of fun and training. And we sold a few coupon books too.
To finish the evening, we had a Badger hockey game. Based on our last experience, we weren't sure what to expect. However, you CAN teach an old dog a new trick, if the old dog is willing to adapt. Monte is not an old dog; I am the old dog being referenced. Although the SETTLE technique has been working well, we needed something more effective.
Then I remembered something that our trainer, Doug, mentioned a few weeks ago. When approaching dogs on the street he stated that "Distance is your friend". Now this was not directly applicable, but the concept was. In order to keep Monte calm at the hockey game, we needed to wait for him to mature or reduce the distraction and control the situation. Deciding not to wait for the former, I implemented the latter and "encouraged" Monte to remain DOWN, unable to see the action, while we were in our seats. This is a good rule and should have been implemented from the beginning. It didn't take him long to figure out the new rule and eventually "The Look" was all that was needed. It was the best hockey experience that we have had with Monte.
At OccuPaws training class I figured out that "The Look" although effective is not a good training technique. We traded dogs during class and I could see the other handlers struggling with Monte at times; they didn't know about "The Look". After giving a command, Monte usually responds. However when he doesn't, I don't repeat the command which is a huge training mistake, but I do give him a combination disappointed/angry/encouraging look and then he complies. He has not learned to respond on the second command, unfortunately, he has learned to respond to "The Look".