November 30, 2023

Facility Dog in Training Update: November

Tommy visits local high school in Yokohama

Recently, Tommy, one of our Facility Dogs-in-training, visited Morimura Gakuen Junior & Senior High School in Yokohama. This was one of his first major outings where he can practice some training exercises out in the real world. 

The key points for this experience were for Tommy to be able to:
– Greet people from all walks of life – including children and young adults.
– Respond to cues given to him by someone other than his trainer (ie. students)

Because this was his first time here, it is important that he has some time to adapt to the environment. The trainer gives Tommy some time to be able to smell the air, look at the glass case full of trophies, smell the ground, listen to the sounds, and observe his surroundings. Once Tommy was ready he and his trainer entered the school.

Once inside, the students lead the walk to the classroom and Tommy was able to walk confidently next to his trainer. They arrive at the classroom and students were all smiles. “He’s so cute! He’s so big!”

Tommy waits quietly on the mat while the trainer presents the Facility Dog program to the class which is an important skill in itself. At the end of the presentation, several students have a chance to give a cue to Tommy. It is important to practice following cues and commands by someone other than their trainer and that they are comfortable with different people.

Practicing how to greet people is very important for Facility Dogs but really for any dog in general to master. With our dogs we specifically focus on these key scenarios:
(1) When a Facility Dog approaches a person and greets them
(2) When a person approaches a dog first and greets them
(3) When a Facility Dog greets a person who is a short distance away (this is practice for the clean room window visits or visiting a child who cannot touch the dog due to allergies, etc., but would like to experience the interaction)

During these three exercises, the goal is to be able to greet people calmly without getting excited and jumping on them or biting them affectionately. Again, the students played an active role here, and under the trainer’s direction, they helped us to build on the success of Tommy’s ability to greet people well.

Thank you Morimura Gakuen for inviting us!

We look forward to sharing more updates on Tommy and Miko’s training experience over the next few months.