For the past four weeks, Parker boarded at Urban Tails as a student in the Second PAWportunity Program. “It was so much fun having Parker stay with us here at Urban Tails. The lodging staff and supervisors fell in love with his goofy, sweet personality and his giant smile,” said Monica Body, Head Trainer of Urban Tails.
During his stay, Parker learned a great deal of self-control in exciting situations. Rather than jumping and barking, Parker learned to earn the things he wants in life (food, toys, attention, petting, and a leash) by sitting quietly. Now, he waits patiently as his handler opens doors, not moving through until given a release cue. This is a long way from when Parker used to barge through doors!
Parker enjoyed his training and showed extreme interest in learning new tricks and cues. His favorite behavior that he is currently perfecting is “Touch”-where he follows a handler’s open hand to touch his nose to their palm.
By using counter conditioning and desensitizing techniques, Parker is much easier to walk, even when other dogs are present. He learned to offer alternative behaviors (sitting, focusing, following his handler) in these stimulating situations in order to earn a reward. This makes for a much more enjoyable dog to take out on walks, and boy does Parker LOVE going on walks!
Now that he has completed the Second PAWportunity Program, Parker has taken his new found behavior back to his foster home.
“Since he has been home he seems really calm. It really helps me out with my lab Chance. It seems to make Chance more calm as well. I think my lab was feeling Parker’s energy,” said Cherie, Parker’s foster. “We had a really nice walk last night. He followed all my commands and was tested by a smaller dog walking on the other side of the street. He wanted to start pulling. I stopped, he sat and I said ‘Parker’ and he looked at me and I gave him the cheese. I waited until they were clear. Then I said ‘lets go’ and he was great. I walked him a while and took him to a quiet place in our neighbor hood where there is grass and let him have free time. He rolled in the grass for a while. I just want to let you know how much I enjoyed this walk and what a difference!”
Parker will have a few more lessons to continue improving his training skills, especially at the Friends For Life shelter where he has experienced reactive behaviors in the past.