Obedience class: Week 1 (aka, Dahlia the calm) - The Book of Ramblings
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crysania4
crysania4
Crysania
Wed, Jul. 2nd, 2008 08:58 am
Obedience class: Week 1 (aka, Dahlia the calm)

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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10CommentReply

angely78
angely78
angely78
Wed, Jul. 2nd, 2008 03:35 pm (UTC)

Yay Dahlia. Sounds like she's going to just breeze thru these classes!


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crysania4
crysania4
Crysania
Wed, Jul. 2nd, 2008 03:36 pm (UTC)

I hope so! She does have a stubborn streak. I have a funny feeling she's going to do GREAT in class and still be stubborn outside of it while on walks. LOL


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stubberella
stubberella
Lisa Eskra
Wed, Jul. 2nd, 2008 08:21 pm (UTC)

I can completely sympathize with people whose dogs are very energetic and hyper. Hope is extremely bad about that. She doesn't listen well. She'll follow commands. "Sit Hope" and she'll sit...for about 5 seconds and then she's running off to do something else. I just wish they'd grow out of having that puppy mentality already!


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crysania4
crysania4
Crysania
Wed, Jul. 2nd, 2008 08:24 pm (UTC)

Ah labs...I don't think they DO grow out of the puppy stage, do they? LOL I think some of the dogs will be able to calm down eventually. It was clear that the people with them had no CLUE what to do with them. The one woman didn't even want a dog and was stuck this this hyper stubborn and STRONG terrier. The other woman didn't really want a dog either, but took him in after her son decided he didn't want him.

I still can't figure out how Dahlia has lab (perpetual puppies) and border collie (on the go...CONSTANTLY) in her and yet ended up so damned mellow. I feel very lucky!


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stubberella
stubberella
Lisa Eskra
Wed, Jul. 2nd, 2008 08:39 pm (UTC)

I'm quite amazed at Dahlia's temperament. It's perfect!

I don't think Hope is going to grow out of the puppy stage. At least Faith settles down around people after a few minutes. Hope never does. Plus she tries to get Faith all riled up again. At least they barely bark. =)


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crysania4
crysania4
Crysania
Wed, Jul. 2nd, 2008 08:44 pm (UTC)

I'm continually amazed at Dahlia's temperament. I keep thinking she's going to suddenly turn around and say "haha had you fooled!" I'm not sure how we lucked out as much as we did.

Too bad Hope can't learn from Faith that it's calm down time, eh?

The barely barking is nice though -- we live near a TON of dogs and some of them bark nonstop. Rather amusing really as Jim (our new landlord) was all concerned about Dahlia barking too much. If she did, she'd just add to the din!


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stubberella
stubberella
Lisa Eskra
Wed, Jul. 2nd, 2008 09:06 pm (UTC)

Faith and Hope only seem to bark out of boredom if they are alone. Faith is more whiny about it but only when she has to be in the basement with Hope. Hope has always been a barker when caged but is now a lot better about it.

It's funny because barking dogs actually scare Sean. He really hates the yappy dogs. And honestly, who can blame him?


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crysania4
crysania4
Crysania
Thu, Jul. 3rd, 2008 12:59 pm (UTC)

I'm not a big fan of yappy dogs either. There are people living across the road from us whose dogs are really yappy and annoying.


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dippylou
dippylou
The Dip
Thu, Jul. 3rd, 2008 05:54 am (UTC)

Love reading all your Dahlia stories. :)


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crysania4
crysania4
Crysania
Thu, Jul. 3rd, 2008 12:58 pm (UTC)

I'm glad someone does! I'm always afraid I ramble too much about her! lol


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