Training ‘Dallas’

What a truly AWESOME session with Wounded Warrior, William, who suffers with PTSD, and his incredible 9 month old “puppy”, Dallas! Dallas, an English Mastiff, has surpassed all expectations since the first time I met him, but this second outing at Walmart showed me just how INCREDIBLE a trainer his dad, William is!! Dallas knows all the basics – sit, down, sit/stay, down/stay, leave it, heel, load, unload, perfect heel, dropped leash walking, loves every child and adult he gently meets, and gets along with big, little, barking, or quiet dogs! I was literally in shock at our last session. While doing the usual things, I noticed William putting Dallas into automatic “covers”. I said, “We haven’t even taught you both that?!” William just grinned and said, “I’ve been doing my homework!” That’s an understatement! Not only can Dallas do covers from the front and sides (we will see about the back cover next time, but I’m sure it will be done before I even meet them again knowing William’s intelligence and diligence”). Dallas even stayed in a stay with William disappearing from view and only hearing his voice. He didn’t move a muscle. And he does it all without treats – even though we sneak them in sometimes. Dallas’ head and throat are so big he tends to spit out the training treats as if to say “Give me something bigger, dang it!” William is definitely getting more comfortable in public, as Dallas is consistently drawing attention everywhere he goes. He gets big hugs from little children, looks of awe from adults, and William is much more prepared for this amount of attention and is getting so much more comfortable interacting with others and explaining about Service Dogs. I tried everything I could to distract Dallas – even getting in a motorized scooter at Walmart and walking next to them to see if it fazed Dallas. I mean – I was RIGHT next to them – and Dallas just looked at it strangely a few times, but then was completely comfortable with it. Created loud noises were nothing to Dallas. I did manage to find ONE thing that challenged this amazing dog – finally!! A HULA HOOP!!! Dallas was a little “spooked” by it at first, so I twirled it all around him (probably making William feel awkward – he’s so kind and patient, though – what a champ) – and finally, we succeeded at Dallas decided to wear the hula hoop himself.

The only thing William and I talked about regarding any possible “issues” with Dallas were how to train when William is out in public with Dallas and William’s wife. We talked about how Dallas has to always take commands from William only when out in public, and Dallas’ watch me’s need to be consistently on William. William said that sometimes, Dallas will focus a bit more on his wife than on William when out, so our next outing will be training with the both of them.