Today Falcon went to his first search and rescue training. I spoke with several people who were surprised he was going to training already since he is only 11 weeks old. But, now is the perfect time to take him.
He got to experience so many wonderful things today. He met some of his new teammates. He got to learn that sometimes he will travel long distances in the vehicle and then just sit in his crate for a few hours at a time. He got to see me walk away from the car without him (he cried for a bit; but he settled down). He got to see me walk away from the car leading Skywalker (this was harder for him, but he managed it).
He learned that everyone on the team carries treats and they are willing to share those treats with puppies.
He was also exposed to the type of terrain he will encounter on a search. We went through tall grass and to the edge of a river. He loved the river. I could not have been happier. He had no issues going anywhere I asked him to go. He is so confident; my main worry is keeping him safe. I was worried he would wade too far out in the river; which was up due to recent rains. So, I was constantly on guard to grab his leash if he decided to adventure too far. But, for the most part I let him drag the leash so he felt more in control of what he could do and at what pace.
At the end of training; we went to a gun range and parked a few hundred yards from it and he got out and played with another dog while the guns blazed away in the background. There was not one flinch from the gun noise. Falcon just played with the other dog as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
What would have happened had he acted afraid or flinch of the gun noise? I would have first tried to see if I could park far enough away that he could hear it but be ok with it; had that not worked; we would have just left.
I also let him explore the terrain at his own pace. He had to navigate down a small hill and figure out how to put his feet. Had I forced him or offered him food to follow me; he might have become scared. If he stopped; I stopped; if he moved I said “good dog” and moved as well. The second time we went down the hill he was absolutely fine with it.
Here is a video of Falcon at the river: