York II is a very sweet, playful and loving little guy. He is always enthusiastic about practicing some cues, and he constantly has his eyes on me when we are working. Most of our walks/exercises in the past couple of weeks have been while we are safe, warm and dry in stores and malls as we prepared for Christmas, and boy, have we ever put in some miles at that! York is a good little shopper – checks in with me frequently and walks along very well with me as I push a shopping cart, and without trying to sniff the merchandise. With all the crowds of shoppers, he had lots of practice holding his durations while we waited in long lineups. The challenge there has, of course, been resisting a joyful greeting to everyone who wants to say Hi to him and comment on his beauty. But we have that one nailed now, and for the most part, he sits like a good boy but can’t resist wagging his tail as he is admired. It isn’t a PADS cue, but York has learned how to take a bow, which always charms people who stop to chat and admire him. 

Before it got so icy and treacherous, we had many walks in our favourite places along the dikes, beside the river, and in some of our local parks. York is very, very good at checking in. We play the name game lots, but it’s a challenge to find a moment when he is NOT looking at me, so I can say his name, prompting him to look at me!! During off-leash walks, he stays nearby, checks in frequently and has a stellar rocket recall, even if he is in the middle of a game of chase with other dogs. York has zero prey drive – no tendency to give chase to any birds, bunnies or squirrels, even if they jump out and run practically under his nose. 

On one of our walks at Bear Creek Park, we decided to have a ride on the Christmas train. We had the whole train to ourselves as the weather was so miserable. York was very interested in all the lights, creatures, and even dinosaurs we saw during our ride. Afterwards, we had a visit with Santa, then York did a 5-minute sit duration while Santa took a phone call!! (Santa asked us not to leave while he was on the phone). We have had some lovely lunches out, and York held some good settles and go-ins, even in crowded areas with other dogs. We enjoyed a beautiful Choir Leoni concert, although York was quite unsettled at the beginning. Eventually, with a bit more distance from the choir, he settled down and went to sleep. York isn’t keen on all the ice, slush and snow we have had the past couple of weeks. He looked at me like I was crazy, expecting him to BG when he’s up to his shoulders in snow, so I stomped out some paths and a toileting area through the snow to make it a little easier. While York likes to have a quick play and game of chase in the snow, he is very happy to get his paws out of the cold. With all the salt and ice clumps, we are doing lots of paw checks, washes and wipes. Fortunately, York is very good about handling his paws and doesn’t mind having nail trims. 

York’s biggest challenge is dog distraction, so we have worked hard on that. Happily now, with the aid of the magic word “NIIICCCEEE,” he can calmly walk past other dogs without trying to engage with them and has even had a few times when he held it together when some off-leash dog ran up to him. It takes a while each morning for York to accept that I want to greet Blaze also, but once we get past that, he and Blaze are best buds, and after lots of play together, they usually end up snuggled on one of the dog beds. 

Advanced training location: West Coast

Submitted by: Nola, Advanced Training Sitter