Well our busy weekend has finally come to a close and I am so exhausted from an amazing day on Saturday at Dogtoberfest that I have been utterly and completely useless today. I was functioning long enough to get to the grocery store but have since been useless.
Our day at Dogtoberfest was really fantastic on so many fronts. I had some training breakthroughs with Shayne, some general socialization breakthroughs with Shayne, met some great prospective students, saw some students (and some of their dogs), and had a generally fun time with my dogs (and fantastic friends and students who hung out at our booth).
Shayne and Rio spent most of the four hours before our demo crated while I worked the table since I could not effectively keep them safe AND work simultaneously (people and dogs were walking on all four sides of our booth and watching all sides at once was not possible). It worked out well because both were able to curl up together to sleep since it was a chilly in the morning (Rio even had a coat on) and I think they stayed a little less stressed.
I was absolutely flooded with happy feelings by the end of the day because of my Shayne… my little Shayne. Her “small” victory was not having a single snarky moment in her crate. She has a very long history of snarking at people and dogs from inside her crate. If anyone got too close or started staring at her in the crate she’d react. I had the crate tucked under our table, which was covered by a sheet, and had a soft crate leaned up against one side so she had some privacy but could still see out of the crate. Some, less than responsible owners, on a few occasions let their dogs walk right up to my two dogs in the crate and sniff or would let them stare down my dogs in the crate and Shayne didn’t snark once. I was tossing kibble in the crate each time I noticed a dog getting close and she was just a super star! Most of the dogs were given all 6 (or more) feet of their leash and they wrapped around the table and got within about 12inches of her but she did great. Rio had a moment of stiffness when one of my student’s dogs was sniffing through the crate bars–Shayne didn’t care but Rio was a bit stressed but neither got snarky to the curious little puppy.
What was perhaps the highlight of the day for me was something I saw after I was setting up for my demo and I walked back to my booth. I had left my mom holding the leashes of Shayne and Rio while I moved their crate to the demo area and when I came back I saw my mom stuck with both my dogs and this HUGE old bully breed dog sniffing Shayne’s ear (while her owner had his back turned). I’m not going to lie, my heart skipped a beat just waiting for the worst to happen. My good, good, girl, just turned her head and looked at this dog like, “what the heck do you want?!” My mom was able to coax Shayne to look away from the dog and there were no issues. That exact scenario could have ended up so badly because that is the exact situation that typically leads to Shayne snarking at another dog. But she didn’t. She also sniffed and met a student’s dog, Linus, saw her friend Meika, sniffed a spectator dog through the gaiting, and sniffed a dog whose owner let it roam on a flexi-leash. I couldn’t believe it. She did so well, I was absolutely stoked! Now, she was pretty well managed and she could still use some work on making the CHOICE to turn away instead of needing help but I cannot complain what so ever because these were all huge strides for her!
Our demo was certainly not our best performance but that lays completely on my shoulders. Like I tell all my students, if you don’t work your dogs, how can you expect them to respond. It’s been nearly a year since I worked either dog in an outdoor environment like that doing tricks and it’s been quite a while since we did a trick routine of any sorts. I worked on a few new tricks for the monsters but they were started in the last two weeks and only ever practiced inside. All that being said, I had fun with my dogs and I just loved the chance to work with them and play with them. Rio was a little stressed and preferred socializing a bit so instead of forcing him to work, I sent him to chill on the crate (a known behavior) for a little while.
The best compliment I got was from a spectator who really appreciated that I took my dogs’ feelings into account and when Rio was stressed, I didn’t add pressure or force him to perform but instead, took the pressure off of him and let him hang out on the crate.
It was quite the day and Shayne, Rio, and my self were exhausted after the event and were even pretty tired through Sunday. We really did have quite a great time and I couldn’t have been more proud of my dogs, even if they weren’t perfect 🙂