Sometimes a Fit Dog must go to school. Since we adopted Ike from a situation where he basically had been allowed to get away with any behavior and bad manners, we knew we’d need to start from the very beginning with his training. He’d been called Buddy for 6 years, and hadn’t even learned his name. But he is definitely smart. And he already knows his new name is Ike!
We walked in to our first day of class. Two cute little dogs were already there…and the moment they saw Ike, they started barking, and the chihuahua growled at Ike! The instructor said that they were probably intimidated with his size. Ike just stood and wagged his tail.
The instructor teaches clicker training. First we got the dogs to associate something good with the clicker. Lots of clicking. Lots of treats. Then, the first lesson was sit. The instructor told us to first use a food bait, then a hand signal, and finally the verbal word. I’m still not sure why she doesn’t start with the verbal command, but that’s the way she does it. Most of the dogs pretty much knew sit. I don’t know a dog who won’t sit eventually if you stand there holding out a treat!
The second lesson was “leave it.” This is an important skill that somehow I’ve never taught any of my other dogs in the past, although Kelly responds to “no” very well. We held a fistful of kibble in our closed hand and Ike sniffed it all over. The second he pulled back from the hand–click! Then a treat. We did this for a while until he seemed ready for the next step. Then we opened our hand and exposed the treats. It really didn’t take them too long to figure out what to do…er, what not to do. I was surprised at how well the dogs would “leave it” –although we didn’t make it amazingly tempting for them.
There was a lot of barking that first class. The little dogs barked at Ike a lot. The instructor told the people to distract their dogs with a food lure whenever the dogs did that. I hope that the dogs get used to each other and Ike. I’m not sure if Ike enjoyed school or not. We’re looking forward to teaching him to walk nicely on a leash. Right now it’s still a pull-fest, and we’ve tried out different collars and harnesses but still he pulls. And we’ll all be glad that he’s learned some lessons and we understand what each other wants and needs.
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