crysania4: (Default)
Today was our last day of intermediate obedience class at Petsmart. David didn't come tonight because he has a big presentation to do tomorrow and so had to stay home to work.

I expected it to be a bit like the last graduation class. A couple sits/downs/stays and then we'd take pictures and call it a night. Except last time we had 4 or 5 dogs to take pictures of and this time there were only two.

Class for Dahlia and I actually started early -- the moment we walked in around 6:40pm actually. Our trainer was training her advanced class to do sit/down stays by the door with people and kids and dogs walking in and out. She had us walk Dahlia by the dogs as they did their stays. Then she used us for meeting strange dogs on the street and standing and not greeting the other dog. Dahlia and I walked along and stopped when we saw the other person, greeted. The dogs had to stay at our sides and not try to greet the other. Then we continued on our way. Dahlia did great; so did the other dogs.

Then she and I wandered the store for a little bit while they wrapped their class up. I really had to go to the bathroom, so I attempted to take her in with me. Well, that was a no-go. She put down her foot, so to speak, and refused to move. The second time I tried to coax her in, she actually looked like she was shaking a bit, so I just stopped. I wasn't about to let my dog panic. We walked away and I got her calm again. I still had to go to the bathroom so when I went back and the class was gone, I asked our trainer if I could leave her in the room with her while I ran to the bathroom. We decided it was a good chance to see what she did when Mom left her alone with someone else. Well, I'm glad to say she did great. Our trainer said she didn't whine or cry or panic or pull on the leash. She sat there and watched and waited for me to come back. I was really proud of her. It's part of the CGC (Canine Good Citizen test) that I want her to do, so I'm glad to see she did pretty well with that. The most important thing is that the dog doesn't panic.

A lot of things happened during the class. We did some walking in the aisles. Our trainer told us to use this pit bull that was in the aisle as a distraction. Which we did successfully. On another go around, we ran into him again. His owner clearly was trying to control the dog (who was, ultimatley, a rather calm and good dog). She kept telling him "NO NO NO" when he tried to even look Dahlia's way. Then she kept frantically telling him "LIE DOWN..DOWN! DOWN DOWN DOWN." And when he didn't respond, she JERKED him the ground, shouting "DOWN." I said something like "ohhhhh" in what was probably a surprised and disapproving tone. THe woman said, in a rather snotty voice "It doesn't hurt him." I had to bite my tongue, as I'm not the trainer. Instead, I stepped away, walked a few feet away and with only hand signals, calmly had Dahlia sit and lay down. I turned, looked at the woman, gave Dahlia a release cue and walked away. I think that made my point clearer than telling her I thought she was an idiot. Fucking idiot Cesar Millan and his abusive methods. God I seriously hate that guy and wish he were taken off the air. [/rant off]

I'm not sure what our trainer thought of them, as she was right then when she jerked her dog to the floor. I hope she made a few training suggestions.

We then headed over to do stays by the the fish tanks, something new for us. Well, Dahlia's threshold issues came out again. She wouldn't come all the way back there. Our trainer was surprised she hadn't seen this from her before and wished she had. She got me to coax her back there and had me drop the leash and walk around the corner for the last few feet. Dahlia's need to not lose her mom overcame her difficulties. She then suggested going back out to where Dahlia felt safe. Well, we did, but then I decided to have her come back one more time, and the second time she was much better.

We both her and Schmutzi (I think that's how you spell it, though I could be wrong) in a down stay by the fish tanks. Then, since they were doing so good, she had us try something new. First we each stepped around the corner while the trainer held the leash, returning shortly from he same direction and treating/releasing the dog. Both dogs did great. The next time, she held both their leashes while they both were in a down stay and had us walk down the aisle and around and come up from behind them. The first time, both dogs took a moment to see us and remained down in a stay until just moments before we got to them. Try again! The second time, both dogs stayed until released. Our trainer was most impressed with Dahlia because she said she's smart enough that as soon as I disappeared around the corner, she turned her head to look down the aisle we had come from before. Yay for smart dogs!

We also did waits in the aisle with Colleen throwing treats. The first time Dahlia went for the treat and for some reason the "leave it" command escaped me. Duh. The second time she didn't go for the treat, though I spent a fair amount of time confusing her. Turning her around, while trying to get her to not sit on or trip over the exceedingly long leash, plus dealing with the lady with the pitbull and her stupid daughter YET AGAIN didn't help much. She ended up a bit stressed (as evidenced by her yawn, which our trainer poiinted out). Luckily, at that time, class was over and it was on to taking pictures of Dahlia in her grad hat. She did very well this time and I got a few really cute photos.

Graduation photos )

I also talked to our trainer about the Agility for Fun classes and she thinks they'd be a great idea for Dahlia. We met several people at the store tonight who were impressed with her, starting with the woman and her two kids on their way out when we were coming in, plus one of the women who was there with a puppy for the class before us, plus a couple people in line when we were on our way out and even the cashier, who gave her a treat which Dahlia immediately ate right there on the rug). So all together it was a great class!
crysania4: (dahlia2)
Last night was our second to last class in Intermediate obedience. We're technically supposed to have 8 classes, but (1) one class got canceled due to our trainer's being out of town, (2) we each got one private lesson because the other person couldn't make it last week, and (3) we've all basically agreed we've gotten our money's worth. With only two people in the class (both smart dogs too), we've moved fairly quickly through things and with having a one-on-one session, we've gotten through everything really well.

Last night Dahlia was MUCH better. She was happy and back to loving working. She still doesn't get the "go to your bed" command, but we honestly haven't been working on that one. We haven't found a real need for it in our household and with this dog. It's helpful to know how to teach it, however, since we may have a dog in the future who needs such a command.

We tried some new things last night. No new tricks or training, but amping up those we already have. The first one was a sit-stay and down-stay with distractions. The rodents and birds in the cages haven't proven too difficult for either Dahlia or Schmootzy. What DID prove difficult, especially for Schmootzy, were the kids that were over there. She wanted to greet and went nuts. Our trainer got her owner to put her in a stay and made her stay that way while the children walked over slowly to pet her. She did great when they moved slowly, but still had some problem if they moved around. She asked if we wanted to do it too, and I thought, sure, why not. Dahlia actually sits nicely for petting from kids in general. If a child wants to pet her she just walks over and sits down next to them. She did nothing different this time, even though the kid picked up her ear to point something out (I guess his neighbours have a border collie mix that looks a lot like Dahlia).

And then the ultimate in challenges for our Dahlia. David and I walking away while someone else holds the leash. I wasn't sure she'd stay in a down-stay while we stepped away from her. But she did it! David inched around an aisle and I inched around the other side of the rodent enclosure and she managed to stay in a down-stay while looking suitably worried. Yes! She did awesome!

We worked on "come" as well. I'm always amazed at how lackadaisical Dahlia is with this command while at the store. On walks (when she's off leash), if we call her to come, she'll come RACING at us, tail up, happy grin on her face. At class, she just sort of strolls. Last night we finally figured out the issue. I called her to come and she turned, looked at David (who was still standing near her) and sat down. Ah ha. She still has one of her people WITH her so why move, or move fast? Makes sense. So we did a "come" command with BOTH David and I stepping far away from our trainer (who was holding her). Sure enough, she raced to us as fast as she can on those slippery store floors!

I'm really pleased with how she's come through these two classes. They were well worth it. She's gotten better with remaining calmer when other dogs are out on the walk near us. She isn't as prone to chasing motorcycles and UPS trucks. I usually can catch her as one is approaching and when she just starts to get excited say "No! Leave it!" and that's enough for her to return to just sniffing the ground. She's brilliant off leash. I think we're ready to leave the training classes behind. I do want to move onto trying out agility with her, so I might get in contact with the place we take her for grooming and find out when their classes are. Maybe next spring I'll see if I can find one to take her to. I think she'd enjoy it!
crysania4: (Default)
Class last night was...interesting. It didn't go so well, for the first time. It started with our discovering that Dahlia had stepped in some gum and gotten it worked into her paw pad pretty well. I'm guessing she stepped on it on the way into Petsmart and we didn't notice it right away. She was slinking around a bit so it was probably because it was uncomfortable. So we spent the first 10 minutes of class keeping her down and on her side so our trainer could work some peanut butter into the gum to loosen it up. We got it all out, but I'm sure her paw was still irritated.

Dahlia was HORRIBLE distracted all class, which was ashame as it was a private class. Our trainer was a bit distracted too -- I think she was having a bad day as well. So all together, Dahlia did NOT do really well, but it was an ok class. We talked to her about Dahlia's reluctance to go with someone else and how to work through that. So we have some ideas for that. She does ultimately go with the person we hand the leash to, but she's not happy about it and it's obvious from her body language.

We did manage to get her to do some stays with other dogs around and she did well with that. We're working on stays and waits with distractions and she's being pretty successful. She even managed to when there were some pretty hyper dogs around. I'm proud of my baby. She's a good girl.

In other notes about last night's class.

OMG I MET A WOLF DOG. Seriously. I was standing at the check out lane and this woman came in with this MASSIVE dog. I took one look at it and told David I was positive it was a wolf dog. And so I had to go find the woman and talk to her and sure enough, it was indeed a wolf dog...that looked more wolf than dog. He was friendly, but timid. He doesn't like hands (they think he was abused and so he's nervous if someone puts a hand out to him), so I squatted down and he came over and sniffed me. He was just such a handsome amazing dog. It's the closest I've gotten to a wolf or wolf dog and I was just blown away at having that opportunity. We were 5 minutes late to class but really, it was so worth it. What an amazing creature. She's a very lucky woman.

And I also got to hold a baby ball python. That was neat. I love snakes. I couldn't actually have one as a pet because I can't feed it what it needs to eat. But it's fun holding them and letting them crawl around my hand.

It was definitely an interesting night at Petsmart!
crysania4: (Default)
We were back at obedience class again last night. We had a week off as our trainer was heading out for some sort of doggy camp thing that she does with her dogs. David was really exhausted last night and so opted to stay home on the couch. That meant Dahlia and I were on our own for the class.

Well, unfortunately, the first thing Colleen said to us was that Dahlia was getting fat. :-( I've been saying this too, thinking she looked a little larger than I'd like. But everyone else (including the vet's office) said she looked fine. And we feed her the proper amount listed on the bag. Well, now I'm being told that the amount on the bags is really only for the most active dogs (which she's not -- she gets plenty of walks, but she's not hyper active or anything) and most dogs get fat eating the allotted amount. So we're going to try cutting back on it a bit and see if that helps. It's strange though as she currently weighs the same amount that she weighed in August. Maybe it's just more noticeable with her hair trimmed back. On the good side, Schmootzy (the other dog in the class) is a bit larger than our trainer things she should be too. So we're both going to cut back a bit. I definitely don't want my dog to get fat! Geez. I feel like we take good care of her and she's STILL getting fat. I don't ever want anyone to think I just let my dog pig out!

At any rate, she did well in class last night. The instructor told me that most people who rescue a dog want Lassie, and that most people don't get her, but that we did. Awww...our dog really is. I bet you she'd rescue Timmy from the wel! LOL We worked on our typical things...more stays with distractions (this time with people milling about and guinea pigs and rats nearby). She did her waits perfectly while going in the door. And she did a brilliant come this time. Usually she just meanders but this time she got worked up enough and rushed down the aisle to me. That made me happy.

So all in all, the class was pretty successful. In some ways I'm glad someone else validated my worry that Dahlia was getting a bit bigger than I wanted her to. Some of it might be tied into her metabolism slowing after getting spayed. I'd imagine that what she ate when we first got her was ok for her but that her metabolism has slowed a bit and so she needs less. So starting today we cut back and see what it does!
crysania4: (Default)
I guess I haven't had much chance to post in the past couple days, but more on that reason soon.

Dahlia had her third week at obedience class on Monday. I'm really enjoying the fact that we have only two dogs in this class. It means we have more time with the instructor and things move faster. Both dogs are smart and while Schmootzy is still just a puppy, she responds really well.

We started off class with just discussing some things. I think we mostly did because the other woman in the class had some questions, but also because we wanted to go out and do some work in the aisles and there was a woman there with her four unruly children. Colleen cracked me up by making a few snide comments about the kids needing leashes, training, and then about how their poor dogs would probably end up in a shelter. She's probably right about that, sadly. The dogs AND kids were horribly out of control and the owners seemed to have no clue what to do with them. Maybe she'll suggest training classes to them!

We're moving onto having the dogs do a "wait" with us not turning to look at them. It took a couple times, but Dahlia seemed to understand what we wanted of her pretty quickly. We got through the door with little problem. We found an aisle down the way a bit and practiced some loose leash walking. Colleen came and watched and said she was impressed with Dahlia. She does seem really impressed with her a lot -- she tells everyone she's the perfect rescue dog. It makes me proud! She's such a good girl. We're adding in turns when we're heeling and she did a great right turn around into the next aisle.

Further down there, we met a woman with a small puppy who was really afraid of Dahlia at first. Dahlia approached the dog and it kept running away. So Dahlia's reaction? She laid down and reached out her nose to the dog. After a few minutes, the dog started to bark and want to play. Dahlia really seems to have this innate sense of how to carry herself around small frightened dogs. She's so awesome with them. Colleen thought she was pretty amazing. We really did get a gem of a dog!

We also worked on "go to your bed" and it took Dahlia a little bit, but she was eventually going to her bed. I don't think we'll have much use for this command as she's a calm dog who doesn't get up on the bed with us, doesn't get in your face ever, isn't even obnoxious in begging. But at the same time it's a good command so we're working on it.

She really does amazingly well at class. She's such a great dog!

And on other Dahlia notes -- she's starting to play with other dogs! We met one today and she went over, sniffed, and then jumped into a part play bow! She's getting it! She's playing! I'm so happy to see her initiate play and get more comfortable with it. It's such a joy.

And one more dog note -- the Obamas have said they're going to adopt a shelter dog! Yay!!!
crysania4: (Default)
Yesterday we had our second class of intermediate obedience class. Dahlia did amazingly well last class. After starting with "doggie aerobics" to get her in the working frame of mind, we went onto practicing "come."

Now, she's not great at this and I partially think it's the floors at Petsmart. Our instructor always wants her to run to us as fast as she can but I think she's freaked out by the floors because they're REALLY slippery and she can't get any good purchase on it. So she kind of trots down even if we hype her up. I think she'd do a lot better if there was a runner down that she could actually get her paws into! She sort of failed the "distraction" part of the challenge. Colleen put down chicken chips and the first time through she tried to make a grab for them. Silly food hound Dahlia! The second time through and on the way back was much better.

Then we moved onto loose leash walking and heeling. When we did our loose leash walking in the aisle Colleen said we were already very close to heeling and that all we had to do was bring her a little closer. I did that, got her to move with me, got her to sit down right at my side, and Colleen told us it was a perfect heel. Yes! Dahlia is awesome.

After class, I took her for a walk around the neighbourhood and we practiced some "waits." She is doing awesome with those. I was able to walk a good 10 feet away from her while she waited and then when I said "ok" she came barreling toward me. She was AWESOME. We did it several times and then we did it in the apartment where there were all sorts of distractions ("Daddy", toys, etc.) and she still did great. I think her waits are the best thing she's done so far. She just seems to get them.

Dahlia is an incredibly smart dog. Stubborn as all get out, but really smart and just really wants to please us. She's a joy!
crysania4: (Default)
So we're back at our obedience classes again. We decided to sign up and do intermediate obedience classes at Petsmart with the same instructor we had before. We really like Colleen. And Dahlia really likes her too.

It turns out that this class has only TWO doggies in it. Yay for that. The only bad thing? It's quiet, calm, well-behaved Dahlia and a crazy 7 month old labradoodle puppy named Schmootzy. Schmootzy is cute as hell and is really smart, but she's nuts. She wants to play and of course, Dahlia's reaction is "omfg get off me you little child!" Hmm...not good for poor Schmootzy. Dahlia mostly stays out of the kid's way.

We started off with a few "puppy calisthenics"...just running her through basic sits, stays, downs, and whatnot. Dahlia is great with this stuff, especially if there is doggy crack involved!

Then we launched into something new. The first thing we did was "wait." The concept here is to get the dog to sit and wait so you can walk out the door (or down the stairs) and have the dog follow you on command. David decided to do it first and poor Dahlia got SO confused. He was, ultimately, doing it all wrong. The way you were supposed to do it was walk to near the door and tell the dog sit. You then wave your hand from one side to the other in front of their face and say "wait." Since we're new to it, we need to face the dog and make sure she stays put. Well, she wouldn't for David. He waved his hand in this HUGE arc that just made her want to go get whatever treat was in his hand. He kept trying to get her to do it over and over again and she was getting more and more confused and he was clearly getting frustrated. So I decided to try it instead.

I got to near the door, made her sit, said, "wait," and did the signal. The first time she moved quickly and we started over. This time I did it, stepped out and turned to face her. She shifted a bit forward and I said "eh-eh" (or however you want to write it). She sat back down. She tried it again, another "eh-eh" and then she stayed put. I released her and she walked through the door to her treat. I was pretty impressed with her. David tried it again and she really just was somewhat confused. Poor kid. He told me today she was doing ok with it but I think last night she was just balking at his doing anything with her.

We did loose leash walking and she's brilliant at that with me at Petsmart (not so much at home! LOL). Very attentive and great. I think this guy that I ran into beforehand with his big yellow lab really hit the nail on the head. He said "the problem with training here is they can't do the live squirrel test." Yes. This! Exactly! The distractions are just not enough. But...we do our best.

Afterward we did stays with a bit more distance and time. The way Colleen introduced this was to get the dog into a sit-stay and then step to the side, to the middle, to the other side, and then back to the middle. Treat. Then step back one step and then back to the beginning. Treat. Keep doing that and then start more steps back or more time at the one step away. She can handle this. She did really well when Colleen did it. And she did ok when I tried it at home. If I step two steps away she follows me though. I just have to get good at timing my vocal corrections "eh-eh" to get her to stay in place. We'll get there! I have no doubt of it.

Overall she did REALLY well. I'm looking forward to next week's class!
crysania4: (Default)
Tonight was graduation for our class! I wish we could graduate with the dogs we went through most of it with, but ah well.

We did some basic things tonight...same sort of stuff as before. While working in the aisle, we met a woman who owned Siberian huskies who thought Dahlia was just amazingly gorgeous. She just kept going on and on about was cute!

Colleen is very impressed with our girl and thought she would be good for competitive obedience and might even enjoy agility (even if she never competes at it). She suggested trying to skirt around the whole "dogs must be AKC purebred to participate in XYZ) by getting a certification that Dahlia is a flat-coated retriever (even though she's NOT). You apparently fill out a form and submit pictures of her and they judge her based on if she looks that breed or not. Funny that she should suggest. It's worth a thought!

For graduation, we tried to get her into a corner, against the wall, and wearing a graduation cap. Amazingly, the cap was NOT a problem. It didn't even faze her (thus prompting Colleen to say "ooo Halloween is coming up Dahlia!"). Colleen thought she would make a great kids' dog, because she'd let them dress her up and it wouldn't bother her. I love how relaxed she is.

We managed to get a few decent shots of her in the hat before passing it onto someone else. And we got a basic obedience certificate. We definitely want to work toward the Canine Good Citizen test (and are, in fact, good at most of this except the long distance stay and her reactions to other dogs). She'll do well eventually I think!

And so here's the graduate:


Some more back here )
crysania4: (Default)
I can't believe I never updated on Dahlia's progress this past week. Because of my teaching schedule, we were forced to change classes for the last two weeks. So instead of going to the Tuesday night class this past week, Dahlia, David, and I jumped into a new class on Friday evening. It was a little weird joining a different class, but was also great fun. She got to meet Vito, a really large 7 month old Rhodesian Ridgeback (a breed of dog I've never met in person!). Gorgeous animal and he and Dahlia were GREAT together. Not a growl between them. He was also a really sweet dog and at one point during class, while we were waiting for others to complete their "come" exercise, he came over to David, sat down in front of him, and leaned up against him. Awww...we know he just wanted his "doggy crack," but it was still really cute.

And for the record, Dahlia (who was supposedly a jealous dog) did not seem fazed at all by Vito's actions.

We also met Missy, a shih-tzu/poodle mix (I think) and Jessie, an English pointer. Jessie was NUTS. Totally out of control, energy out the whazoo. But her owner took it totally in stride, was absolutely calm about it all. And Jessie was just all too happy to do everything. She's going to be one great dog when she grows out of her puppy craziness. Well, she's a great dog NOW, but just a lot more hyper than she will be eventually. I was worried about her meeting Dahlia, since Dahlia doesn't seem to like dogs jumping up in her face all the time, but she did great when she met her.

I really like this class and although I love the dogs in the other class, I think Dahlia would be even further along. They were already working on rolling over and shake, along with calmly greeting other dogs (something Dahlia SO NEEDS). We did the greeting and passed with flying colours. She was totally awesome. Now why the fuck she can't do that when we're out on the road for a walk I don't know. It might be MY tension being relayed to her since I get worried that the other dog is going to be dog aggressive. I need to work on that myself to be honest, so hopefully Dahlia and I can work together to greet doggies more calmly when we come across them on the street.

We tried to get her to roll over, but only got her on her side. Maybe eventually we'll get her to do it.

We got back for our 8th and final class tonight. Dahlia's gonna be a graduate! We have to take our cameras and get shots of her with a little cap on. How silly, but it should be fun (if we can get the cap on her head!). We're definitely signing up for intermediate classes, also with Colleen. I'm looking forward to continuing!
crysania4: (Default)
We had our 6th week of obedience class this past Tuesday. It was somewhat of a slow class for Dahlia as we didn't get to DO much. We talked a good amount about dogs ignoring the word "come" because too often people use it for something "bad" (leaving play, going to their crate, etc.) and call it over and over again without the dog ever being made to come. Colleen usually teaches it on a long lead so that if she says "come" and the dog doesn't come, she can reel it in so that it's "forced" to come. She started demonstrating how she would get a dog to come, then give it a treat and let it go back to play, saying something like "Spot, COME." And every time she said "come, Dahlia would stand up and start walking to her (stopped only by the leash we had on her). It was SO damned cute and so ridiculous and everyone was laughing. We've decided to stick with the word "come" as she seems to know that command, especially when food is involved.

We also worked more on loose leash walking (Dahlia was SERIOUSLY distracted so it took us a moment to settle into it) and sitting quietly while being petted. She does this like a pro, so no problems there. I mean, if someone wants to pet her, she's TOTALLY there.

Colleen also started teaching us how to get a dog to drop something they're holding, so we're working on a "trade ya" command where we hold up the treat, say "trade ya!" and then when the dog drops the item they have, we give them the treat. I never thought in a million years that Dahlia would actually grab onto her sheep, but she did, and I got her to drop it. It's amazing just watching her mind work. I held up the treat and said "trade ya" and she looked at the treat and at me for a moment before finally dropping the sheep. You could almost see her thinking "hmmm...sheep...or treat..." before deciding the treat was better. She's an awesomely smart dog.

We did manage to switch our last couple classes, so we'll be doing obedience training for the last couple weeks on Friday (starting tomorrow). I'm so happy that we can actually finish this up sometime in the near future.
crysania4: (Default)
Last night was already week 5 of obedience class! Next week may be my last one. *sigh* I won't even get to see her "graduate" if they can't switch us to another time. Stupid f'in Columbia College. Maybe I'll have to call in "sick" the last class. Well, there's a thought.

At any rate, class last night went really well. We started with doing some basic exercises...sit, down, and now stand. Stand is easy enough to teach for MOST dogs, but Dahlia doesn't seem to get it all the time. She looks at you like "wtf I was JUST STANDING, you made me sit and now you want me to stand again? why??? you're just going to make me SIT AGAIN." At any rate, standing is accomplished by holding the food in front of their nose and forcing them to move forward toward it. The problem with it is that if you hold the food too high, they see it as "sit." If you hold it too low (which David often does), they see it as "down." So it has to be "just right." We did get her to manage that.

We then moved on to doing some walking again in the aisles. The challenge this time was to get the dog to stop with you and then sit still to your side. Dahlia got it on the first time around! I was so pleased with her. And then when Colleen came to see her do it she did it perfectly again. ROCK ON. Then we had to do a "leave it" with a stuffed toy. Dahlia didn't even look at it and I explained to Colleen that she's NOT a toy dog. She didn't care about it because it wasn't food. So we did it again with a treat tossed down near here and this time she went right on by it, passed with flying colours. Colleen said to us, "she's really the perfect dog, isn't she?" We couldn't agree more!

Our last goal for the class was to start teaching "come." The way she did this was to have her sit down and Colleen held her while David and I showed her a treat, got her all excited (or, at least, as excited as Dahlia CAN get) and then called her to us, making her run down the aisle at full speed. She did really well with it both times that Colleen did it with us.

The real stars of the show this night, though, were Bacon (the American Staffordshire terrier) and Miley (the "yorkipoo"). Miley has a real fear-based reaction to both people and dogs. And all of a sudden, she just kind of slowly walked over to Bacon and Bacon, who is the most submissive dog EVER, rolled over at her feet. She was showing so much more confidence! Colleen got Miley's owner to reward her whenever she did something brave, so maybe she's starting to come out of her shell some more! It was nice to see.

After the class, Dahlia got to meet an utterly adorable Aussie puppy (omg I was dead from the cute -- so fuzzy!!) and then got really playful in the parking lot. We ended up running her back and forth playing fetch for a little bit. It was great to see!
crysania4: (Default)
Last night was week 4 of obedience class. Things are going really well and I'm so pleased! I'm learning a lot, maybe even more than Dahlia.

We started off the night by going to one of the aisles and practicing our loose leash walking. Dahlia did a great job at first, walking closely at my side, up and down the aisle, paying complete attention to me. It's funny, but I noticed she doesn't pay nearly as much attention to David and tends to run out further in front of him much of the time. I don't think it's that I'm any closer bonded to her...I just think he gives her more leeway on walks (sometimes using the long leash, though he's stopped with that for the most part) and so she comes to expect that. Her only bad part of walking was when someone came down the aisle with their dog and spent some time looking at the merchandise. Ahhh distractions! I worked on trying to get her attention with treats and it somewhat worked. Better than usual at least!

Colleen came down our aisle and what we were working on was "leave it" when we're on a walk. She tossed a treat down ahead of where we were and I was to say "leave it" and keep her away from it. It took me a couple times to get the pattern down...especially the moving past the food thing. I'm used to stopping and making her sit there, mostly because the treats I toss down are my own and I want to pick them up when she walks off. Oops! But I finally got it and Dahlia did it with flying colours.

David did it a few times and he got it ok eventually too.

We then went back into the class area to tackle our next new thing: down. This is one I've NEVER known how people do. I've figured out sit and stay on my own. But down? I had a general idea of how it was done but hadn't really worked it out in my mind. She started by showing us how to do it on Apolla, the boxer. She began by saying something like "We usually begin this from a sit." Dahlia, who was paying so much attention (hey, she was holding food), immediately sat down as soon as she heard the word sit. It was perfectly timed "...begin this from a sit," Dahlia's butt hits the ground. The class lost it and Colleen, who wasn't paying attention to Dahlia, missed the entire joke. Dahlia had this big silly grin on her face like "I did good" and Colleen felt obligated to give her a treat. Silly goofy dog!

So we started with holding the treat under her nose and letting her lick and eat at it a bit. Then we lowered it until it was right in between her legs. The awkward position eventually should force her to lay down to get at it. It did with her, though it took a little bit the first time. As soon as she was down, she got the treat. We did it several times and eventually she was laying down right away, though still with the treat as a lure. I was most impressed at how quickly she got it. We're now going to work on it every day and hopefully she'll get down soon.

She's still not at 100% as far as all her commands go, but she's doing really well. She sits about 95% of the time, with or without a treat. She leaves things maybe about 75% of the time...not bad for just learning the command! I haven't had a problem with her laying down on a walk since I started leave it. She gets stay about 90% of the time if you stay within a few feet of her. If you try to walk further away, she'll try to come to you, though she does it in such a way that you can see the wheel turning, almost see her thinking "am I supposed to come to her or still stay?" She'll get it eventually. I want to work at getting her to do a stay from a distance.

I'm really excited about how this class is going -- enough that I think I may continue on to the intermediate training after this ends. I'd rather do it closer to where I live, but I really like Colleen so I might stick with going all the way to Liverpool.
crysania4: (Default)
On Tuesday we took Dahlia off to obedience class again. She had a LOOONG nap in the afternoon, so she was much more lively at class this time. Not that she was as hyper as any of the other dogs there, but she was definitely more alert and active. And she was all about cleaning up any crumbs dropped on the floor during training, which was pretty amusing.

We started off class with just getting the dogs to sit and pay attention -- prepare them for "working." We then did a switch up where each of us took someone else's dog and got them to look and sit and tried to get them to behave a bit better. We got Bacon, an American Staffordshire Terrier. Bacon is an incredibly affectionate, sweet dog, but he's also REALLY hyper and active. After spending the first little bit just trying to get him to stay more still, I finally got him to look at me and then sit down. He was VERY attentive at that point, though still kind of nuts. He's definitely a lot more hyper than we would want to deal with. The woman who got Dahlia (Bacon's owner), was like "wow I got to enjoy just petting your dog instead of having a dog in my face all the time." Yeah...Dahlia's cool.

We worked on "leave it" after that and I was amazed at how quickly she learned this! The first thing we did was show her a treat and then fold our hand around it while saying "leave it." When she turned her nose away or relaxed or did anything other than try to sniff your hand or get the treat, you gave it to her. The first time we did it, she sniffed for a few seconds and then stopped. The second time, she just looked at us like "ok mom, I get it." Then we had to do it with holding their collar while putting the treat on the ground...same thing, when she relaxed, we gave her a treat we were holding in our hand and picked up the other one. The concept is that sometimes there is going to be something on the ground she wants that we don't want her to get -- and she's NEVER going to get it, hence not giving her the treat on the ground. She got that one pretty quickly too.

Then we worked on stay. Dahlia already has this pretty well down. I make her sit and stay whenever I leave in the morning and whenever we come back from a walk (the door swings toward us, so she has to stay far enough away from it that I can open it easily). Our goal is to work up to 30 seconds this week and eventually beyond that. I think she can actually handle that. I've been doing it for several seconds now and she's just stayed and stared at me. She looks SO border collie when she does it too. We're using the word "break" to get her out of the stay and that's still taking some work. Sometimes she's insistent on just STAYING rather than moving so we're getting her to move at the end of it.

Our only issue came with walking. We were told how to start training them to heel. And then we were sent off into our own aisle. Well, Dahlia would NOT pay attention at ALL to us...she wanted to sniff things, had no interest in our treats anymore. Colleen eventually came by and brought out some of her so-called "doggie crack." And amazingly, she worked for that! So we walked her up and down the aisle some and then brought her back to the training area.

Overall, she did really well. Since then, we've been working on her with all of this and she's doing BRILLIANT. We're able to put a treat on the ground, say leave it, and have her look up at us. We're able to make her sit and stay...and I'm able to make her leave things on the walk with the leave it command. She's an awesomely smart doggie and is catching on so quickly. I've been taking walks with a little bit of treats in my hand and I have her undivided attention. The true challenge will come when we face down another doggie. I hope I can get her distracted from the dog and paying attention to me instead. I'm really very excited at how she's doing!

Colleen says that Dahlia is a total food hound. She was SO interested in everything she did as long as she had some treats in her hand. Food really works well for this dog!

On a strange sidenote, Colleen has Dahlia pegged as a timid, somewhat clingy dog. She thinks that she doesn't want to leave our side (she actually will, she's just stubborn) and I don't really consider her timid. She's a pretty confident dog, just hates loud noises. And getting shocked. Oh poor girl! David went to show her a treat and touched her nose and she got a shock. For a little bit after that, David couldn't put his hand near her nose without her flinching back a little but out of nervousness. But I still don't really think she's a timid dog, per se. Maybe more cautious than some others, but not timid.
crysania4: (Default)
Last night was our second obedience class. Class consensus?

"Why the hell are you here anyway?"

They moved some of the dogs to another class so we had a lot less dogs there last night. My friend and her St. Bernard, Piper, was still was Gotty (one of the pit bulls), Apollo (one of the boxers -- the younger one went off to puppy class), and Miley (who turns out to be a Yorkipoo -- Yorkie/poodle mix). Oliver, the little Yorkie who was 4 1/2 months old probably ended up in puppy class with the younger Boxer...not sure what happened to the other pit bull.

So while things were still a bit out of control, it was more manageable this time.

We started off with finding out how our "look" command went for the week. Overall, I think Dahlia did pretty well with it. She definitely knows how to tune you out though when she wants to. But if you have food in your hand she's all ears! lol She does make a lot of eye contact usually...and she does seem to respond well to her name. Maybe because we don't talk about her too often by using her's just "our sweetheart" or "Ferocious D" or whatever. Either way, she does seem to know her name well.

After that we did something she calls a "cuddle and massage" -- which is just a nice way to say "control exercise." No, it's not like some sort of alpha roll. It's getting your dog into your arms and holding him/her and making sure he/she stays calm. Eventually, you work up to handling paws, tail, ears, touching the belly, eyes, nose, etc. The reasoning behind it is you want your dog to be used to relaxing when you touch those places so if something happens (cut paw, infected ear, etc.) you have a much better chance to keep him/her still. She said as a vet tech she saw a LOT of dogs have to be restrained or sedated when they came in with just a simple issue (like needing to get a tick removed -- so rambunctious the owner brought the dog in to remove the tick and it took 3 people to hold the dog down for something so simple). While she was talking about a dog not wanting to have its paws touched, I picked up both of Dahlia's paws (she was laying on the ground) and moved them around...all she did was roll over.

She decided to use Dahlia as a demo instead of getting her dachshund out for it. She pulled her onto her lap and held her and all Dahlia did was melt into her. She petted her and then released her and she didn't even MOVE. Silly puppy. She then held her again and told us to get up and act excited and see if she'd try to get up to come to us. No luck. Still flopped. She did try to pull her paw away on the first time Colleen (our instructor) tried to touch it...but then relaxed to.

So yes...Dahlia? Is apparently a mush dog. LOL

We then worked on sit...which she knows well. Colleen taught us a new hand signal for it that a dog can see further away than our little snap, so we worked on that. She sat almost every time, even for Colleen. She's a good kid!

We're going to start loose leash walking next week and she gave us a handout sheet. We're working on some of it with her and she's already being even better. Not that she's been horrible, but we're working on keeping her calm and not letting her lay down and stubbornly sniff something when she wants to!

As for yesterday's incident...David's leaving her alone for a bit this afternoon to see what she does. I really do hope it's a one off thing. He should be home soon and he'll be able to let me know if she did ok or if she got anxious and did anything bad again. *crosses fingers*

Edited to add: And he's back, just as I posted this! He said she was very happy to see him, but nothing was out of place.
crysania4: (Default)
I think I've mentioned before that we signed Dahlia up for obedience classes at Petsmart. I was starting to think we really needed it. When we walk she's usually pretty good, loose leash and all, but not when she gets excited about something. Generally, two things make her excited: Squirrels and other dogs. She gets stubborn and pulls on the leash and will NOT listen to a word you say. If you try to tug her away with any sort of leash corrections, she LAYS DOWN and won't move. She can be a real pain when distracted.

So last night, it was off to obedience class.

Well, she's a real star compared to the other dogs there. The class consisted of two pit bull type dogs, two boxers (though one is too young and is going to be at the puppy class starting next week), a St. Bernard, a Yorkie, some little black dog (maybe a toy poodle but it was shaved down so it was hard to tell), and Dahlia. The pit bulls and boxers had WAY too much energy. They whined and cried and skidded around and tried to rush over to greet other dogs. The poor women who had them there could barely control them. It turned out that the owner of one of the pit bulls had agreed to take the dog when her son decided he didn't want it. And the other owner of the pit bull hadn't really wanted a dog -- her husband did and so he just brought this dog home. And guess who ends up getting to take him to obedience school? Nice, eh? The boxers belonged to a family who had 4 boxers all together. The little toy poodlish dog was a bit of a mess -- separated too young from her mother, growled at people when they came too close, especially when she was on the woman's lap -- it was total fear aggression. The St. Bernard had a TON of issues, including a fear agression in reference to other dogs. She was kept a bit separate from everyone else and under tight control by the owners. The only dog that was calm and as well-behaved as Dahlia was this little Yorkie named Oliver. He let out a couple barks, but settled down and slept most of the time. Dahlia proved her "defender" personality again. When the other dogs would get hyper and move around a lot and bark, she would stand up, let out one bark and then settle down when they did. She especially did this when one of the dogs kept trying to jump on another. I'm not sure if it was a bit of herding instinct (like "hey sheep...settle down!") or her trying to stop the dogs from going nuts on each other.

In a totally ironic twist, the person who owned the St. Bernard was a high school/college friend of mine. I kept looking at her thinking, "is that Joanna?" But I wasn't sure. Until they said her dog's name was Piper, which was Joanna's maiden name. And then she was looking around the room, looked at me, and said "Michelle?" Yep, it was Joanna! It was good to see her after so many years. Hopefully we'll get to catch up a bit at some point. I'll need to get her e-mail address.

Much of the class was spent with fitting up the hyper and fear-aggressive dogs with haltis and explaining their use. She asked if we wanted a harness or a halti for Dahlia, but agreed that she thought we probably didn't need it. And honestly? I'm totally against it for her. She is a little stubborn, but not terribly so. I think we can train her with the regular collar. I could revert to a harness if we felt we need it, but I don't want to deal with a halti. You have to leave it on the dog a lot and I want her face free, not covered in some halter thing all the time. I much prefer just a standard collar.

While she was doing some orientation things, Dahlia just basically settled down and practically fell asleep. She got really comfortable there and just lounged.

We finally got around to working on our first cue -- "Look." It's the basis for everything else. And it makes sense -- get the dog to pay attention to you and then you can give them another command. It seems to work so far, but I want to make sure we can get her to do the look command without there always being a treat the end of it. So I'm working on doing it just with praise at home as well.

Overall, I think it went rather well. Everyone seemed to love Dahlia and be impressed with her calmness. The trainer (who, btw, had a lot of training experience -- she's been doing classes like this one since 1986!!) mentioned at one point that everyone should bring a chew toy so that when she works with another dog, they have something to keep themselves occupied, "except Dahlia," said while Dahlia was flopped out on her side all relaxed and the other dogs were still going nuts. Yeah...she has energy, but not a ton of it. She's happy just relaxing. Every once in awhile I sit back and think "is she REALLY only 2 or 3," but then she LOOKS young and her teeth look very young too. So...I think she's just a mellow dog.

So, at any rate, that was the evening's fun! I'm looking forward to next week.

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