Fall classes are officially in full swing now! Both levels of therapy dog classes have now met twice, and our Family Dog Manners class has the first class with dogs tonight!
It’s been a very exciting journey this time around. The last session of classes that Lisa and I did together, I was the assistant and she taught the bulk of the classes. There were a few sessions where I taught for her because she was not able to come, and a few classes that I spent almost the whole time one-on-onewith a certain dog/handler team. I have a lot of experience working one-on-one with individual dogs, dogs and owners, and a lot of experience teaching and guiding individuals. The tough part is pulling on all those skills and putting them together for a group class!
My work at Apple Hill Farm (as well as a lot of my past experiences) really made the speaking and leading a large group of people fairly simple. The hard part is just adding in a bunch of dogs and a bunch of noise! This week at Therapy Dog Foundations (TDF), we had 8 dogs and 8 people in the room total, counting myself, Lisa, and our dogs (who were kenneled). Whew! Everyone did REALLY well, and I am so grateful to Lisa for helping me out with the more excited dogs in class. Having an assistant who can coach one or more of your students while you give instructions to the rest is really priceless. Two of our students took our Family Dog Manners (FDM) course this past spring, so a few things are review for them. Lisa jumped right in when I asked and coached them through the upper levels of the behaviors that had already worked on while I coached the rest of the students through the beginning levels.
We also had a “Sit” challenge in both classes on lots of different surfaces, by a big umbrella, and then right by a rolling wheel chair. I am so proud to say that each dog sat without pause at every challenge. Both classes did SO well that I had to change my lesson plan on the fly! They definitely surpassed my expectations! I am so proud of them all 🙂