Logan goes to Party City

Logan is a service dog in training.
Visit his page for more information and to read all of my blog posts about him.

Logan is getting good at going places. His focus and leash walking skills have improved tremendously, and he does well with many types of low-level and medium-level distractions.

When I first started taking him places, we focused on the basics – such as leash walking, eye contact, sit, down, stay, settle, and leave it. Now that Logan’s doing well when out in public, we are starting to work on more difficult situations and distractions.

Service dog practices leash walking in public

Logan works on loose leash walking at Party City

This is fun, because my friends and I get to be creative. We try to come up with little challenges for Logan. That is, we try to find things that he will be able to handle, but that might take a bit of extra concentration on his part. And, if we find something that’s a bit too difficult, we can just break it down into steps and make it easier for Logan.

For example, when Jessica and I took Logan to Bed Bath & Beyond last week, we practiced having Logan focus around random, loud noises. Jessica had Logan in a down stay working on eye contact, while I walked around the aisle banging on the pots and pans. At first, it was more difficult for Logan to stay focused on Jessica with some of the louder noises. So, I stuck with soft and medium noises. However as we continued practicing, I was gradually able to increase the noise level.

This past week, Logan and I visited our local Party City with Jessica and another friend, Jennifer. Because the store wasn’t very crowded, we didn’t have too many people distractions. However, we were able to find plenty of other challenging distractions as we wandered around the store!

Here are some of the things that Logan got to practice at Party City:

Masks: Halloween will be here before you know it, and our Party City already had some Halloween costumes and decorations on the shelves. We sampled some of the masks to see what Logan thought. Sometimes, dogs can be fearful of masks and costumes. Luckily, Logan didn’t seem bothered by our strange appearances.

Service dog and halloween masks

Logan wasn’t bothered by the Halloween masks.

Tossing a ball: On one of the aisles, we found some small plastic footballs, and Jennifer started tossing one high in the air. This proved to be a VERY big distraction. So, Jennifer moved really far down the aisle. We wanted to find a distance where the ball was a little distracting, but where Logan would still be able to focus on Jessica. This was difficult for Logan, but it is something that it will be very easy to continue practicing at home.

Service dog practices focusing at party city

Logan practices focusing on Jessica, while Jennifer tosses a ball in the background.

Funny noises: On one aisle, Jessica and I had fun picking things up and dropping them, banging plastic toys together, and rattling items on the shelves. Basically, we tried to do all that we could to make annoying noises. Jennifer and Logan worked on eye contact in the down position at first, and then practiced walking up and down the aisle past us, as we continued to make noises.

Clumsy people dropping things: A few times, Jessica practiced dropping her water bottle several feet in front of Logan as he was walking past. Because moving objects can be more interesting, this was a great variation for practicing “leave it.” Logan had to focus on Jennifer and walk past the dropped object without being distracted by it.

Leash walking on the stuffed toy aisle: Jessica practiced leash walking and leave it with Logan on the stuffed toy aisle. This was by far the most tempting place in the store. Logan thought at first that the stuffed toys would be better suited as dog toys, rather than children’s toys. Jessica practiced walking with her body between Logan and the toys at first. Later, Logan walked on the side closer to the toys, but he and Jessica walked down the middle of the aisle, instead of close to the toys. Logan had to really concentrate to focus on Jessica, rather than on the toys.

Service dog practices leave it

Logan practices “Leave it” with two children’s hats.

So many ideas, so little time

We had plenty of ideas for more things to try with Logan, but eventually it was time to head home. We had worked on quite a few different things, and we didn’t want to make Logan work too hard in one day. Logan did very well overall, even with some of the interesting, new things that he encountered on this trip.

It was a fun trip, and I do believe we’ll be heading back to Party City soon!

Service dog practices focusing around people in public

Logan practices focusing around strange people.
This used to be challenging for him, but he has made a lot of improvement.

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  • Nichole

    Well it sure looks like Logan had a fun time! I need to get over to our party store to stock up on props!

  • christycaplan

    Oh Costumes are the worst for our three. I WISH I would have done with our youngest dog as any mask is “stranger danger” and I’m trying to do some positive training around this but I need more Halloween stores to pop up. Great post with awesome learning’s.

    • If you pup is really scared of masks and you want to do some training for this, I would suggest to start small. What I mean is start with masks that would be less scary. For example, when we were at Party City, we found several masks that just cover part of the face.

      And, they also have those silly animal noses for kids. Maybe start with noses, or big glasses / goggles, etc. and work your way up to masks. If you know any families with kids, you might check after Halloween and see if they would let you borrow or have the kid’s costumes to use for training!

  • Bryn Nowell

    Great post. It’s a perfect way of illustrating that training opportunities can come from any situation if you identify them and use them to your advantage. It reminds me that I need to be more conscious of finding these opportunities when we are out and about with the pups!

  • Sonja

    One of the best things we ever did was get our guy use to loud noises. SUPER important training for any dog really. WE also ensured sunglasses and baseball caps were a part of the “don’t freak out” training. The only thing we never could get him use to are skateboards. I love how this post shows that training is possible anywhere. Wether this kind of training in a dollar store or urban agility keeping a dogs trainmen up and stimulating the mind is vital.

    • I definitely agree that loud noises are super important to work on during training! We have been doing lots of that with Logan.

  • MuttButs

    Wonderful post. I don’t know much about training service dogs and it was fun to read about Logan’s training and his progress. Thank you for sharing.

  • OK, the mask sensitizing exercise was brilliant! Well, they all were, but that one especially. I had a dog door dart and run away on Halloween many years ago and she was gone for 13 days. It was a total nightmare. :( Yay for helping dogs not be freaked out by costumes!
    Logan looks like he’s doing really well. Great job!

  • I love how you are sharing all the things that would be distracting to dogs, and how you dealt with it.

  • Colby

    Every year in the fall Orange County Transportation Authority has a bus training day for service dogs. As part of the experience OCTA also gets service dogs and trainers tickets to Knott’s Berry Farm. This coincides with Halloween and many of the park employees are dressed in costume (not to mention all the Peanuts characters walking around the park). Needless to say it’s a great experience for our dogs to see people in costumes.

    • Colby

      And YAY! We’re all caught upon Logan’s journey! It was kind of like binge watching a series on NetFlix :)

      • Thanks for stopping by this evening! I’m glad you’ve enjoying reading all of Logan’s posts. :)

  • Costumes!