Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Team Training Day 3 ~ 6/14/16

Hooray! We have made it half way through the first week and the tails are still wagging! Though, some of our volunt
eers are a little droopy-eyed.

Today started with a lecture about how to go about training new behaviors. This is important because as time goes on a handler's needs may change slightly. 

Next we did a little to evaluate what kind of "paycheck" each dog liked best. Just like people, some dogs prefer some forms of praise over others. Some of them enjoyed physical touch while others were biased toward a simple smile or "good dog". 

Next each handler was challenged to have their dog do a variety of basic commands (sit, shake, down and lap) in marked areas in the room all while using only their voice. This was difficult for everyone because this class tends to default to physical praise (It's oh so tempting to want to run your hands through that soft fur!).

This helped make the lap command extra special (and a great photo-op). Thanks to Rosso's Trattoria here in Grant's Pass, we enjoyed a delicious lunch. 

We closed the evening with the first of many obstacle courses. It include small agility jumps, cones to weave in between, a desk to lay under, and a narrow bench to jump and turn on.

Before I end this post I would like to take this opportunity to introduce one of this year's team training attendees, Amanda who is here for a facility dog. Amanda works at the University of Southern California where her job is to develop and bring in proactive programs that promote a healthy lifestyle on the college's campus-- the over arching goal is to prevent health issues before they start. Through both experience and research Amanda and her colleagues have discovered that the good majority of health related issues both mental and physical are catalyzed by one thing: stress. In attempts to help students cope with the pressures of their post-secondary experience, the university started bringing therapy dogs onto the grounds during periods of high stress (finals and midterms). 

This turned out to be enormously beneficial for everyone on campus, but it left Amanda craving more. She knew that having a dog there every day would keep the students' baseline of stress lower rather than just stemming it slightly after it had spiked to intolerable levels. Amanda's facility dog will come to work with her daily and serve thousands of students, helping them maintain healthy levels of stress. She also hopes that the dog will change the campus culture to make the health center more warm, inviting, and fun place to be. The dog will have their own little lounge area where students can come and love on him (or her) when they are having a "ruff" day.  In the future Amanda would like to teach her dog to high-five the students as they walk down the halls.
Amanda gets a "lap" from one of the dogs.
Likely sight on USC's campus in the Fall

A HUGE thanks to Jennifer Butler Photography for the pictures below.

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