Our first public access outing with Team Amelia and Summer to On The Rise Bakery last week went so well, Amelia challenged herself with Summer and took her, on her own, for a second outing to a small but moderately busy shopping area which reportedly also went very well. Amelia noticed the foundation skills Summer came with were operational for her on her own. So it was a no-brainer that we were ready for the challenges of one of my frequent first public access outings for service dog clients — the two story Target near Camp A Better Pet.
Positive active (moving, even up escalators!) and passive (laying or sitting or standing calmly when not moving) actions are the bedrock of successful outings. When a dog has learned to respond to the cues of his or her handler to maintain good manners — handler blossoming into a benevolent leader — it is easier to overcome some of the challenges that can come up in social settings.
The local Target store has a wealth of distractions. Learning down stay out of the way when inactive, moving smoothly on a loose leash throughout the store — upon smooth/slippery as well as carpeted floors, the variety of items sold there including a grocery store section, the energy of people of all shapes, ages, sizes, colors and abilities not to mention clothing/hat options and energies. And probably the most challenging at this venue, learning how to safely navigate up and down escalators smoothly (see video below).
I spent a few minutes readying Summer for getting on, up and off, then on and down escalator. Then Amelia took over. A few rounds of up and down the escalator and we checked “successful escalator behavior” off the Public Access Outing checklist.
One of our main goals is getting Summer acclimated and ready for attending school with Amelia after spring break. Based on how things have gone so far, I’d say it shouldn’t be too long before I’ll be reporting on that challenge and have every confidence we’ll nail that too!
For more information about service dog training and some available in-training puppies looking for partner prospects, please be sure to check out our services page. And last but not least, big shout out to the staff AND customers of Target — always a pleasure socializing in such a supportive atmosphere.