Friday, November 28, 2014

On the spot at Chippewa

August 15, 2014

Without puppies to slow us down, Tammy and I get to the Chippewa Correctional Facility with two minutes to spare. The guys, as always, are waiting for us.

Two men are standing in front of a brick building looking at the camera and smiling. They are wearing white t-shirts. The man on the left has a blue baseball cap on his head and is cradling a small yellow lab puppy in his arms. The man on the right is resting his left hand on the puppy's side. The puppy's front legs are hanging over the man on the left's right forearm. The puppy is looking at the camera and is wearing the blue Future Leader Dog bandana with the name "Adell" embroidered in white.
Tim and Bryan meet us in the yard with their charge, FLD Adell.

A man wearing the blue prison shirt with green pants is squatting on a tile floor with a young yellow lab sitting between his legs. The man's hands are wrapped around the dog's chest. The dog is wearing the blue Future Leader Dog bandana and is looking toward the camera, with his leash hanging to the left. The man has his head turned to the left and is smiling devilishly at the camera. There is a woman in the background over his left shoulder, she is wearing a black shirt .
Harlan strikes a pose with FLD Ekco.

FLD Henry pays me no mind when we enter the chow hall where we will have class. Tammy starts the same training plan we put together for Baraga with the relaxation protocol. Eric does a nice job handling Henry.

Two men wearing blue prison pants and white t-shirts are standing with two small yelow lab/golden retriever puppies. The man on the left is stepping toward his puppy, holding his leash with his left hand. The man is looking at the puppy. The puppy is sitting and looking at the man. The man on the right's head is not visible. He is standing a step away from his sitting puppy (which is the same breed as the other puppy), and he is holding the leash with his right hand. The puppy is looking up at the man. In the background are steel lunch tables with attached stools, a white brick wall and two windows.
Eric (left) takes a step away from FLD Henry during the relaxation protocol. Henry's brother, FLD Harley, sits for his handler Brian.

This time Tammy decides that I will demo how to teach the stand. I hope I'm up to it - the nine-week-old Henry doesn't know stand and this is a tough crowd. Not because they are inmates, but because many of them are accomplished puppy raisers. My demo is rough.

I take Henry from Eric and ask the pup to sit. He swings out in front of my left side to face me, and sits. In the just over two weeks I've had him we've made good progress with sit, but not position; Henry is a long way from knowing "leg." I could use light leash pressure to help guide him back into proper heel position, but without thinking I reposition myself instead. I take a half step forward to encourage Henry to stand. It takes a couple of attempts before he stands, but then he sits right back down. This is one way to teach stand. Another way? I kneel down and with slight pressure forward on the leash I help him up with my hand on his belly. I rub it a little to keep him standing.

Somehow my stand demonstration morphs into a discussion about "silky leash" training. The guys want to see what I'm talking about. Henry rocks this demo - every time I give slight lateral pressure on his leash, he gives into the pressure and moves toward it. He is learning to overcome his natural reaction to pull against pressure (oppositional reflex).

Ideas for applications for this technique fly around the room. Loose leash walking, positioning (into heel or under tables, for example), ignoring distractions, direction changes, "around."

See what I mean about accomplished puppy raisers? Thinking all the time, just like we want our puppies to do.

Two small yellow lab/golden retriever puppies are sitting on at tile floor like bookends. They are brothers and look like it. The puppy on the right is slightly ahead of the other and is looking right at the camera. He is wearing the blue Future Leader Dog bandana and his leash is going off to the right. The puppy on the left, slightly behind the other puppy, is looking up toward where his leash is going off to the left. There are stools behind the two puppies.
FLDs Henry (left) and Harley (right) sure look like brothers, don't they?


  1. A lot of yellow cuteness in this well written article!! I hope you are well!!

    1. Thanks, Kim! I'm doing great, am getting close to catching up...thanks for reading!