Jasmine and I took our first obedience class yesterday. Eight HUGE dogs and itty bitty Jasmine had lessons in getting the dog’s attention, sit and stand. The other dogs were VERY food-focused. Jasmine shook and shivered all the way through the class. She did sit a few times, but I never got her calm enough to really pay attention. Given that the dogs were all about 50 pounds or more heavier than her, well, I’d be shaking too.
I don’t think that this is the class for her. I’m going to write to the trainer and discuss my issues. I’m not pleased with the way that the class went, including the complete lack of individual attention provided.
We attended our first doggie obedience school class at A Dog’s Life on Saturday. A friend of mine, Cecilia, is the Director of Training there and is the instructor of the class. The class is called “Canine Middle School”–a beginner’s class for adult dogs.
The first class didn’t include Jasmine. We talked about training theory, how a dog’s brain works, issues and challenges for each of us, etc. It was actually quite useful information, rather than just jumping into “sit…good doggie” lessons.
We have some homework to do. The first step is to get the dog’s attention. We give her her cue (call her name). When she responds (turns her head, looks at me), we “mark” the behavior. Many people use a “clicker” to mark, but I like Cecilia’s approach of using a word instead; you always have your voice with you, but don’t always have a clicker. We then reward (treat, praise, etc.) and release the dog from the behavior. Seems easy enough, eh? In theory, yes. But I’ve read that it can take 1000 impressions for a dog to understand a command. In the last few days, she’s had quite a few. But, she only looks when SHE feels like it. 🙂
One of the things we’re supposed to do as well is to test the value of treats. Put two different treats, one in each hand, in front of the dog and let her show you which one she prefers. What did I learn? She prefers my right hand. And cheese. Other than that, food is food. Except for kibble. She doesn’t like plain kibble.
Oh, the inner princess in her is coming out!! Gotta love it!
What did I learn in class? Training the dog is all about training US. We need to be consistent. She picks up cues from our behavior and acts accordingly. Makes sense.