We had our first week of puppy class last weekend, and every class I take I’m struck by how different every dog is. Echo’s first class at K-9 she was very nervous and overstimulated, she whined, cried or barked most of the whole class and paid no attention to me at all. It took us a few weeks to get to the point where we could work, and once we did she did great. Fayde is more of a thinker, I could tell it was a bit overwhelming but her reaction is to watch quietly until she’s more comfortable. With the right encouragement (cheese and tenderloin) I had her working and she sat, listened when I called her name, and practiced loose leash walking. I’m glad we are taking the class and hope the heat isn’t too terrible over the next six weeks.
This weeks (dis)obedience class went well, despite my hacking, coughing and generally feeling terrible. We had better attention and less shutting down this week. She still carries on like crazy in the beginning of class when crated, but she isn’t the only one.
Todays high points:
1) In the ring next to us was a person practicing recalls with a young spaniel pup. The owner was extremely animated and running dragging a fur tug. Echo was extremely interested but still managed to sit when asked. She didn’t even try to dislocate my arm in the process.
2) She didnt give up on me even though I was asking her for behaviors she does not know and I could see her getting frustrated. She still tried.
I also came to the realization why luring in to position for starting heel as well as for heeling is failing so miserably for us. Since she was 7.5 weeks old I have drilled into her that she can take food that is offered, but food in a closed hand she needs to back off and sit. In class we are supposed to hold the threat between thumb and finger and let them gnaw at it but not have it as we lead them around. When she tries to get the treat and I don’t let her have it she backs off and sits. Honestly I’d rather keeps this behavior, its better for curbing food stealing from toddlers so I will talk to the instructor about trying something different.
I also realized I don’t have the temperament for formal obedience, as long as she does what I ask her I don’t care if her feet or her butt are crooked.
Today was our first beginner novice work group class. Kind of an odd class for us to be in, seeing as how we have zero formal obedience training or aspirations but I wanted to take a class ASAP. With the turmoil of Lemmy leaving I wanted Echo and I to have something to work on together, so for us this is more of a try new things and learn to pay attention with distractions class. The things I am proud of from the first week:
1) ten minutes in she overloaded and shut down. I was able to take her off by herself and work with a tug toy to get her right back on track.
2) she regained focus so well I was able to drop her leash, ask for a sit, take 3-4 steps away from her, drop her tug on the ground and release her. She did this multiple times with 2 other dogs working within 10-15 feet.
Looking forward to next weeks class.
This morning was one of those sweet, endearing moments that you have with children and dogs. My 21 month old son was playing and my two whippets were hanging out near him. Completely unprompted he walked over to the youngest whippet Dessa, grabbed her muzzle and gently kissed her on the nose. My husband and I melted, it was the sweetest most adorable thing. We said “Aw, did you kiss the puppy?” and he grinned with delight, clapped his hands and walked towards the other dog. My older whippet Lemmy is good, but not comfortable around my son at all. As I held Lemmy’s muzzle lightly so my son could ever so gently kiss his nose the alarm bells started ringing in my head. “What the heck am I doing? What if he tries to kiss a dog he doesn’t know? What if it’s the neighbor’s dog, or a friend’s dog – or a strange dog?” Without making a fuss I gently directed his next kiss to Lemmy’s back, midway down his body. I quickly relayed to my husband – “Don’t let him kiss Dessa’s face. Make sure you show him where to kiss her on the back.” He ran back and forth between the dogs with a huge smile “kissing” both dogs on the back.
Why did a ruin a lovely Kodak moment? I could have grabbed my camera and got absolutely adorable pictures of him kissing them on the nose. Thankfully I realized right away that it was a bad move – just like dogs, kids will repeat any behavior that elicits a positive reaction from you. Us cooing over him “kissing the puppies” would definitely make him repeat the behavior. In the same vein if I would have freaked out and said “WE DON’T KISS PUPPIES EVER!!” I could guarantee that he’d spend the next few days trying to kiss those dogs faces every chance he got. I hope that by redirecting him to a slightly safer behavior that if we don’t call attention to it he’ll forget about it. I figured kissing their back in the middle of their body vs. directly approaching and grabbing their faces was a safer alternative. The last thing in the world I want him to do is approach a dog directly from the front, grab it’s muzzle and put his face in contact with their nose.
I might have to be careful about kissing the puppies too, which I do all the time. Monkey see monkey do!