I wake up to loud barking. Willy caught two peeping toms looking through our window. “Willy, No!” I say in a loud firm voice. Willy stops barking.
The two peeping toms are officers just doing their job. It’s count time. And Willy was just doing his job. When he sees two strangers peeking in, his instincts take over and he automatically goes into protect mode. He will continue to do that until trained to do otherwise.
Time to get up I suppose. I climb out of my bunk and quietly opened the crate. Jesse won’t be getting up until around 7:15am, so I’m as quiet as I can be.
Willy comes out wagging his tail. I sit on the floor with my legs straight out in front of me. I hug Willy as I whisper “good morning.” He tries to lick my face, but I don’t let him. Down the road I’ll teach him how to give “kisses.” Then, if I decide he can lick my face, I’ll give him the cue to do so. I’m the pack leader and I’ll decide what he can and can’t do.
I rub his ears and head with both hands. I pull his adorable face up to the side of my face as I whisper, “I love you” in one ear, then switch over to his other ear and say it again. I do this about five times in each ear as I massage his neck and head.
Then he lays down between my legs and rolls onto his back. I give him a full body scratch with both hands. This dog is awesome! And super affectionate.
Jesse is at work and I have Willy all to myself until around 3:30 pm. It’ll be like this for the next 10 weeks. Jesse is a full time welder. I’m a full time dog trainer.
Time to take Willy outside.
“Willy! Wanna go outside?” I say in an excited voice. He just looks at me with his head cocked sideways. I keep saying it as I put on my mandatory fluorescent green “Dog Handler” vest. He doesn’t seem to understand that we’re going outside.
But the second I grab the leash, a lightbulb goes off in his head. He vigorously starts wagging his tail as his front paws continuously jump up and down. Willy knows we’re going outside.
I make him. By pushing down on his haunches (butt).
As I’m hooking the 6 foot leash to his slip collar, he stands up. That’s my fault. I didn’t tell him to “stay.”
Again, he doesn’t.
This time I pull up on the leash as I push down on his haunches.
Then he sits. “Good boy Willy.”
I slowly open the door as I closely observe Willy. I anticipate him standing up.
I say, “Stay” in a firm voice.
Wow! This dog is easy.
The door is open and Willy is sitting. It’s time to go. I grab the leash to where Willy only has about 12 inches of play. Then I say, “Willy, heel” as I walk out the door first. The pack leader always goes out the door first.
Willy has no choice but to follow.
We approach the massive flight of 14 stairs. Before we descend I stop and say, “Willy, sit.”
I give him about 5 seconds to comply.
He doesn’t sit.
And again, I make him.
“Good boy!” I say.
I watch him as he’s watching the entire dayroom full of people. I’m waiting for him to get up so I can correct him. Sure enough, he pops up.
“Willy, no!” I say in a firm tone. Then I immediately put him back in a sit and say, “Willy, stay!”
I always try to say his name first, before giving the cue. That way Willy knows I’m talking to him. This is especially important for when I’m in the visiting room full of dog handlers who are giving cues to a variety of different dogs.
(Every Tuesday Freedom Tails uses the visiting room from 11 am to 12:30 pm for doggie class. No outside people are in there at this time.)
As Willy and I sit atop the stairs, he pops up a few more times. I capitalize on this opportunity to train Willy how to “stay.”
Then it’s time to move on.
“Willy, heel,” I say as I start to walk down the stairs. Willy only has about 12 inches of leash to work with. I want his head by my left knee at all times. He’s doing great as we walk through the dayroom. “Willy, heel, good boy.”
All of a sudden Willy wanders out of position. I give him a leash correction and say, “Willy, heel” as I pull him back into position. “Good boy Willy!”
We get to the first door.
I make him.
“Good boy” as I pet his head.
We get to the second door. This one leads to outside. Again, Willy fails to obey on his own. So I help him.
Once we get outside I say, “Okay Willy, go play.” He wanders out of the heel position. And that’s okay. We walk over to the potty area. “Willy, break” I say as he sniffs around. I keep saying it. Finally he pees. “Good boy, Willy” I say with enthusiasm as I heavily praise him.
For the rest of the day I let Willy roam leisurely. This is a new environment for him. I want him to check things out and get comfortable before boot camp starts.