Downtown Hound 9

Always a popular class, we offer our Downtown Hound experience just once a year, when we can take advantage of the long summer evenings. It always fills quickly, with some of our favorite students. This year is no exception.

Our class is:

Katie and Brooklyn – an 8 month old Rottie/Shepherd mix (below):

Kristy, Bobbie and Grace – a 1 year old Belgian Tervuren:

Mary and Milo – a 2 year old Collie mix:

Lori and Pearl – a 1 year old Cockapoo:

Ronda and Shea – a 7 year old Australian Shepherd (foreground):

Karen and Cullen – a 2 year old Shepherd mix:

Last night was Week 3 of the class, and we met at the very dog-friendly Prime Outlet Mall just 10 minutes from PPaws. Week 1 is always here on the farm so I can see how everyone does outside the safety of the training center, but without uncontrolled public encounters. Week 2 is at the nearby C&O Canal, where public encounters are usually minimal – although last week we had two off-leash dogs – a Pitbull and a small Terrier mix, some running up the bank from their fisherpeople and play nosey-greetey with all the class dogs. Fortunately everyone handled it well.

We arrived at the Mall at 6:00 pm at our previously arranged meeting spot – between the Food Court and the kid’s fenced playground area. Katie had told me the week before that she couldn’t be there. By the time the 5 dogs and 6 humans had gathered, we were attracting quite a bit of attention. In fact, when I arrived at 5:55 pm, several of my students were already taking advantage of the opportunity to practice polite greetings with curious mall shoppers.

Attracting attention at the Oulet Mall

It’s always a good idea to give your dog a few minutes to get settled in a new place, then practice some basic sits and downs to get their brains in thinking mode. Targeting and Find It-Toss are also good for this. We practiced those, then did a little dog-weaving (having one dog move through the others, who are on a sit or down and being reinforced to attention to their humans).

Kristy and Grace doing dog-weaves

Then we strolled through the mall, taking advantage of various benches, chairs and grassy spots to sit and reinforce dogs for relaxing with us, as well as reinforcing them for walking past mall shoppers, and being walked past.

Politely passing mall shoppers seated on bench

At an open area of the mall we stopped, took a seat on a stone wall, and had each team demonstrate a trick.

Pausing for a break and a round of tricks at the stone wall


Pearl’s trick: standing on her hind legs to target to Lori’s hand

As we strolled back to the front of the mall we found a mechanical horse to play with (no, we didn’t put quarters in) and then a mechanical dragon that was even better!

Mary introduces a cautious Milo to the horse. Note Milo’s fearful body lsanguage – hind legs out behind him, tail down, ears back…


Cullen wants to *ride* the horse!


Grace needs coaxing to sniff noses


Cullen masters the dragon


Shea needs a little convincing

We ended the class relaxing in Amish-built lawn chairs outside Legacy Furniture, and did one last round of tricks. They were such nice chairs Bobbie and I went into the store to find out the price. They ranged from $270 for the simple basic ones, to $700 for the rocking swing. We didn’t buy anything.


Relaxing in Amish-built lawn chairs outside Legacy Furniture


Cullen says, “That was fun! Can we do it again?”


I am so proud of this class! The dogs are great, the humans are doing an excellent job, and at the end, sitting in the comfortable Legacy chairs, no one seemed in any hurry to leave. Good work gang – CLICK!

Next week’s class meets in beautiful downtown Sharpsburg, with a planned stop at Nutter’s Ice Cream. Yum! And it’s a Level 2 Instructors Course Academy week. We’ll be busy!

This past weekend was also a Shaping Workshop at PPaws, with 5 participants. We struggled with extreme heat, and a thunderstorm that shut down all but one of the dogs, but it was still great fun. We started with shaping “Body Parts,” did “101 Things to do with a Box” and then substituted “Prop” for “Box” and began shaping for a specific behavior with the prop. Other behaviors included turning on a “That Was Easy” button, and “Go To Your Place.” This is always one of our favorite weekends – shaping is such a blast! Our 2011 Shaping Weekend dates are June 4-5 and October 29-30. Mark your calendars!

Mini-Goldendoodle Riley does 101 things with a box

I hope you and your dog are having a lot of fun this summer too!

Warm Woofs and Happy Training,


Artsy photo of the week: Luna moth on cypress at PPaws

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9 thoughts on “Downtown Hound

  • dane white

    I’m a friend of Mary-and-Milo’s “up in Maine”, and I am so pleased and impressed for them both! I’m also VERY impressed with this website, your training methods and the all-round great time all creatures obviously are having—want to come to Maine for a class…?!!

    • Pat Miller

      Hi, Friend of Mary-and-Milo… I’d be more than happy to come up to Maine to do a seminar or workshop… Thanks for your kind words; positive reinforcement is always welcome!

  • Karol Kennedy

    I remember this as being one our best training experiences, ’cause it’s the “real deal”, in busy, unpredictable environments with expert assistance close at hand. Grt confidence builder for dog and handler!

    • Pat Miller

      I’m always tempted to bring one of my own dogs, but I know I really have to be “dog-free” in case I need to run interference somewhere… like 2 loose dogs running up to our class on the Canal…