Birdi came into Kroger with me for a super short trip to get an item I needed to pick up. But I used it as an impromptu evaluation trip!
Since I am the one who puppy raises, task trains, and graduates the dogs, it’s easy to just go about my days and not look at the big picture sometimes.
Birdi doesn’t have to ever be evaluated by a third party to enter task training or to see if she’s hitting her milestones, as
I’m with her all day every day and know exactly where her training is. But it is still good to step back and really push her a bit to see what we need to work on before she’s ready to be matched with someone.
So yesterday’s grocery shopping was done with a flat collar, a 6 foot leash, no treats, and little verbal feedback (an amount I’d say is appropriate for a full Service Dog). Essentially, I treated her as a full Service Dog to see how much we needed to work on. And it was about a 5 minute trip so I didn’t push her too much or push her training backwards.
But she did quite well! Not perfect, but she’s still in training and this was an evaluation. At one point she started walking a bit faster than me but quickly corrected herself when I asked. In the parking lot she was about 8 inches from my side when I would’ve liked her closer, around 4inches. And she did attempt to sniff one piece of candy on the floor that had fallen out of a bag in an aisle and that I accidentally had her walk right over. But she didn’t try to eat it and immediately kept heeling when I said leave it.
This quick 5 minute trip gave me an idea of what we need to work on (some leave it practices ma’am!), but also gave confidence that she’s on the right track. Now I’ll go back to using some treats (she doesn’t get many any more) and more verbal feedback during the next trips, but will continue to wean her off both those so that her next evaluation is even better! Way to go espresso bean!
(Don’t mind that every public access photo of her looks like she’s seen a ghost and is freaked out. I’ve just come to accept that those are the only facial expressions I’ll ever get to look back on as that is her go to face when I take at my phone in public….)