Pups meet Pony at Equine Exposure Class
On any given day, an Assistance Dog could encounter different environments, curious people, and unusual creatures because they go everywhere with their human.
It could be overwhelming, and even scary, for a dog who hasn’t seen a train or another animal bigger than them.
A frightened dog may be dangerous for their human when they are out in public. Assistance Dogs must be reliable, resilient and trustworthy, because their human is literally depending on them to cope with life not just inside the home, but outside it.
That’s why it’s important to get our pups used to the big, wide world.
In this puppy class, we took some of our Sydney pups-in-training to horse stables where they met some equine friends and were tested on their focus and good behaviour.
During the class, each pup got to get up close with Vinnie, an older horse, to become used to other animals. Some pups needed to build up courage to go near him; others were not fazed by tall Vinnie.
But the main goal was to teach the pups to ignore a distracting environment (complete with an interesting horse) and keep their focus on their human.
Our Educators do this by making it super worthwhile – through food treats, pats and praise – for pup to make eye contact with their human everywhere, every time. This is the one of the most important skills for all our dogs.
We were pleased to see the puppies making eye contact with their handler (instead of inspecting the horse or hiding), which is a show of trust, connection and best of all, focus, – so important to have in their future relationship with their eventual recipient.
The pups also got to have a bit of fun in the puppy-sized obstacle course. We imagine it must have felt like a playground for the pups!
It was a very successful puppy class and this next generation of Assistance Dogs will grow up to become intuitive, courageous and intelligent companions.