Today we had class in the park and focused on the task of meeting/greeting another person with a dog. We started with parallel paths, with every other team going the opposite direction. To begin with the lanes for the teams were 20' apart. We had three scheduled "breaks" for the dogs/handlers to disperse, give the dogs a sniff and potty break and relieve the pressure. It looked something like this...
The next variation was to stop in the middle (the long grey box) and place our dog in a stay. This too was repeated a couple of times, bringing the lanes a little closer. For this and every exercise - after the stay, we all heeled to the end of our lane, turned and sat our dogs.
Then we stopped while pretending to shake hands with the person on either side of us. We were still about 12 feet apart, so it was just getting the dogs used to our hand motion and that we might seem to turn our attention away from them. Again repeating and bringing the lanes a little closer. Two of the younger dogs broke their stays, but not Gimme.
Our last version was to bring them even closer and then actually step away from our dogs to touch the finger tips of the person on either side, one at a time. This was a much harder challenge for the dogs and by this time we were only 8 feet apart.
Gimme did well all along until just the very end. During the last break, a person came to the park with his large dog and that really bothered Gimme. He was at least 100 feet away, but Gimme didn't like that "intruder". She always has difficulty with sudden environmental change. So five dogs sharing a 32 foot line is okay with her, but add another 100 feet away after she has accepted "her" group, and that is decidedly not okay. We did a lot of "whazzat".
Gimme was okay with me moving away from her to touch fingers with Frank, until Tor moved toward me (he probably thought I had something in that outstretched hand that he needed to know about). We did all these exercises without ever taking our attention from our dogs, so I saw Gimme get up and was able to step back to her. I reset her and did some "whazzat" to reassure her, then we repeated the attempt, taking it slower and Frank made sure Tor stayed put that time. Gimme did well and was rewarded copiously.
We did one more walk and stopped to end with an easy stay. Frank was out of line and when he realized it he moved up to get aligned with the rest of us. That was just the final straw for Gimme and I heard a little "grrrr" from her. I just moved her a couple feet farther away and we played copious amounts of "whazzat" until she just wasn't interested any more. Her little brain was all used up, so I wanted to make sure we ended on a good note. That was the last line up and class was over.
I discovered an interesting hole in our training. I can put Gimme on a stay and walk away from her and she's pretty darn solid. But, if we are heeling and I stop and don't give her any more direction - she'll get up from the sit. Also if we are heeling, I stop and give her a "wait" cue, but don't leave her - pretty soon she'll get up from the sit. I didn't try it, but if I leave her on a sit "wait", go away and then return, and don't release her - I'm betting she'll release herself. That's something I never thought to teach her and something we'll have to work on.