Tonight was Treasure’s first night of obedience class. I wondered how she would do. It was nice when I was waiting for the class to start. Some dogs were lunging and barking at each other. I was very appreciative of my b/d dog, standing quietly by me, sniffing a bit but not causing a scene. Having been in their shoes with other dogs in the past, it was nice to be able to just sit and pet my dog.
I brought some cut up Vienna sausages to try to tempt Miss Treasure to pay attention to me. I wasn’t sure how much the other dog smells and commotion would distract her. She loves sausages! Even though they were cut up in the tiniest, most miniscule pieces, she savored each bite.
We worked on teaching our dogs a marker signal. Treasure’s is a double tap behind her right ear. I’m not sure if I’ll use it behind either ear or just stick with the right one for now. I chose the right one assuming she will be on my left side just out of habit of working my other dogs on the left. She started turning her head to the right each time I tapped to take her bite of sausage. Did I mention I did not feed her dinner before class? Still, I smiled at how brilliant my girl is to have learned it so quickly!
The rest of the class worked on name recognition for attention. I already use many signals to get Treasure’s attention – a stomp on the floor, a tap on her side, a wiggle of the leash. I had already taught her to pay attention to each of those things. I wanted to teach her to respond when I blow on her lightly. So we started that tonight at class. I’m not sure we made much progress, but we’ll keep working on it for a bit. I’m not so sure she likes being blown on. Some dogs don’t. If she doesn’t start to respond positively to it soon, I’ll stop and just stick with what we already use. The more tools I have to choose from, the easier life will be.
We worked on walking on a loose leash and coming towards us as we backed up. With Treasure, I keep enough tension on the leash that she knows where I am and which direction I’m going. It’s not a pull, but it’s not super loose either. I wiggle the leash to give her signals while I’m moving. I’ve already worked with her on this, so we did pretty well practicing in class. It took a long time for me to teach her to walk on a leash and she’s just now really getting comfortable with it in new places. But it was all worth it for a bite of sausage! At least that’s what she told me!
Then we did sits and downs. I have just gotten Treasure to the point that she does these both on cue at home. She will do it in different rooms in the house, but we haven’t done it in brand new places. I had to do a lot more luring than usual with the sit, but I gave her time to figure it out and she did do it. Down was easier for her. Sit has always been harder for her. Until I started to teach her to sit, I never saw her sit on her own. She would stand, walk, or lie down, but never sit. She has spinal lordosis and when I first brought her home, her back was very stiff and hunched. She walked like an old lady, barely moving. I think maybe sit was uncomfortable for her. But she is getting more flexible all the time with the various exercises and techniques I do with her. I guess maybe just sitting is helping too.
It was a good night! I am very proud of Treasure! I did hear many auditory gasps and “oh, that poor dog” comments as I introduced myself and Treasure at the start of class. It always makes me sad that people can’t see past her outer shell to see the amazing dog on the inside. I guess we will have to just work extra hard, so we can show them what she’s made of at graduation day! And I will need to start teaching Treasure a trick to show off - also at graduation! Stay tuned to see what I pick!