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take my dog to obedience training


 

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iSqueak 23 months ago


dragonfly35 21 months ago


dragonfly35Bittersweet

We had our last class today. One of the other crazy dogs was really crazy, so Blitz had some issues, but he still did well. He got the “most improved” ribbon. :) I know everyone gets a completion certificate and she gives out these ribbons a bit in fun, but I was really proud and cried a little bit. He’s a good dog.

We can’t take the upcoming class because the schedule conflicts with work/ vacation, so we’ll just keep on working with him and have the trainer do private sessions if needed. In the fall, we might take another class, maybe “tricks” class. :) 18 months ago


dragonfly35So proud!

Class #5 was yesterday. I’m sad we only have one more week of adult obedience left! That went by quickly. Blitz has improved so much! And the other dogs have improved, too, which is so cool to see.

Blitz’ barking and reactions in class have decreased immensely and he’s doing really well with the behaviors we are practicing as well. He was able to walk around the circle of dogs and have other dogs walk by him. He was also able to meet a couple of dogs. The trainer thinks he just has poor greeting behavior. (He fits right in in our family. ;P ) 18 months ago


dragonfly35Class #4

Well, yesterday’s class went really well. When we got there, Blitz was having trouble with all the puppies, so I rushed him into the store and took him to the back so he could wait quietly. However, a puppy snuck around the corner while her owner was talking to the trainer and a greeting was unavoidable. This went very well, however! The puppy and Blitz both greeted politely, and the trainer was very pleased. Because of this, she said she now feels his behavior is frustrated play and not aggression. (She was having trouble reading him before.)

There were also a couple of dogs who didn’t come to class, so there was more space and things were more relaxed and informal. Blitz was allowed to meet one of the other dogs (a chihuahua) and we tried walking past another dog (a lab mix). Passing the other dog went without incident in one direction, and then Blitz barked in the other direction, but the trainer said it was totally appropriate. This is very exciting!

Blitz did well in class, too, with very little reaction to the other dogs who were there, though he barked at everyone who went by outside the fence. The trainer said he is defending the class space. :)

We have just two classes left. I think it has helped him immensely! 18 months ago


dragonfly35Class #3

On Saturday morning, Blitz totally knew what was happening. He is SO clued in to routines and to us. As soon as we came back from our morning walk and he got his pumpkin but not his breakfast, he started to get excited. Not the usual, running back and forth to his food container, but running to the door. Then, when we went outside, he went straight to the car, which he doesn’t normally do, and jumped enthusiastically into the back seat. Unfortunately, it was already hot and he was overexcited. He’d had quite a few treats on our morning walk even though he didn’t get breakfast, and I’d given him his ginger capsule but I’d forgotten and given it to him late. So he got carsick. :( When we got to the place and I opened the back door, he was standing there with his head hanging low. I begged him to get out so he could throw up in the street, but nope. Luckily, I was standing right there when it happened so I could remove the sheet covering the back seat right away and saved my upholstery, and he wasn’t sick on the way home, which was my big fear.

Anyway, after that rough start, the puppy class got out late and he was not able to tolerate waiting in the area with other dogs coming and going, and there was quite a lot of barking and lunging and hysterics on his part. As soon as we got into the place, though, he went charging to the area where classes are held, totally ignoring a puppy we had to go by, and he did great in the class. We reviewed leave it and watching other dogs walk around, and worked on sitting by the owner’s left side, not just in front, which Blitz already does. (He pretty much already does all the commands we have tried, with some consistency though not perfectly. His issue is the other dogs, and class has been really helping.)

I couldn’t believe the behavior of one of the other owners, though. He has already shown himself to be a bit of an odd duck. His dog (min pin named Barley) is mostly beyond the level of the class and he insists on doing his own thing and not listening to instructions, so even though there are things his dog needs to learn, he is mostly there on his own agenda and doesn’t necessarily listen to the trainer. In the middle of class, one of the other dogs got overheated and the trainer had her move into the shade near Barley, so Barley’s owner moved over next to us. The trainer was suggesting he could stay where he was, but he came next to us, and then increasingly encroached on our space. Barley has demonstrated some dog aggression and is not a good energy dog for Blitz.

When they got too far into my space, I leaned over and said, “Excuse me, Barley’s owner. I don’t know your name. (He didn’t respond with a name.) Excuse me. My dog is reactive to other dogs, so could you please be aware of how close your dog is and give us some space?” His reaction was to approach Blitz with his dog so they could meet! He explained this was helping my dog. (I’m sure he had the best of intentions, but seriously WTF?!) Of course, Blitz started snarling and lunging (as did his dog), and all the other reactive dogs in class started barking and lunging, yet the guy continued to be in our space until the trainer solved the issue by asking him to take his dog across the room and have him practice meeting a different dog over there.

Later in class, he randomly walked his dog through the center of the room, passing close by all the reactive dogs and setting them off. This in spite of the fact that the trainer has explained that watching other dogs walking nearby can be challenging for some dogs and that any walking into the center of the room has been done in a very managed fashion as part of the class work, and with warning given to all owners so that we can work with our dogs.

Well, this guy is obviously clueless, and while I was a little angry (especially since I made a great effort to speak up to a stranger and set some boundaries for my dog, which is incredibly difficult and terrifying for me), I mostly just shrugged my shoulders at that point because he obviously just has no idea what is going on.

I do love our trainer. I loved the way she dealt with it and managed to communicate with me that I am doing the right thing and that she thinks this guy is bizarre without coming out and saying it. She and I are totally on the same page and have a similar deadpan sarcasm that we instantly get so I’m really grateful for her.


Edit: I forgot – our homework is to go to the county shelter or a dog boarding place where the dogs bark all the time, and work across the street on our commands in the context of barking dogs he can’t see. I actually think Blitz will do well with this because we’ve been doing similar work for a long time with local dogs behind fences, but it will be interesting to try in a new context. 18 months ago


dragonfly35Level up!

Today, some of the dogs were walked, one at a time, into the center of the ring and back to their places. Also, some of the dogs greeted each other on leash. Blitz isn’t really ready for such shenanigans, so his task was not to bark while the other dogs were moving, which he was sometimes more successful at than other times. Overall he barked more because there was more to bark at (plus I was alone because C was feeling ill), but I still think he did amazing. And the trainer told the whole group he has improved 2000 percent. 19 months ago


dragonfly35This is a weekly goal now!

We went to our first class last Saturday, May 18. The four of us – Blitz, Chris, my mom (who was visiting) and I – all went down there. The trainer said to get there a few minutes early so we could get situated first. We interpreted that to mean 15 minutes, but when we arrived, puppy class was still going on. We took Blitz for a walk around the neighborhood, and then returned a few minutes before class started.

The hardest part was getting in the door because there were still puppies leaving, and Blitz has trouble with puppies because of their excited energy. Once the puppies were gone, we entered the store with treats and sitting as we went, and he was actually quite good on his way in and all the way to the outdoor area where classes are held. Two dogs were already there, but he actually didn’t react to them. Maybe he was too distracted by the new environment. The trainer found him a corner in the back where he could have some space and be somewhat “protected” from the sight of other dogs. She put down a towel and we started right away feeding him for being on the towel.

He did so great!

He only reacted a couple of times, and that was when other dogs started barking first. He did lots of good work on his commands, focusing on C and me well, even with six other dogs in the class, two of whom were a bit out of control. I was really proud of his focus and recovery. I cried when we got home, and then had a mimosa with breakfast.

Our homework is “sit”, “down”, “stand” and “leave it”. 19 months ago


dragonfly35Class starts tomorrow!

I’m excited. And a little nervous. 19 months ago


dragonfly35We're in!

Today I took the paperwork down to the place where our trainer holds her group classes, and I paid for the 6-week adult obedience class beginning on May 18th. I’m excited, and a little nervous. What will Blitz do in a class full of other dogs? We’ll see.

He is getting way better at walking again since the trainer was here. I’m sure it’s something I’m doing and not him at all. I’m not sure what I was doing, but I was frustrated and stressed and communicating that to him somehow in spite of my best efforts to be calm and happy. Working with K again restored my confidence in myself and my dog, and he’s been nothing but awesome this week.

He hasn’t barked at any loud engines or scooters this week. We haven’t seen any really loud motorcycles, which are the worst thing, but he seems better about barking at sounds in general. He’s way better walking past barking dogs, and most of the time he works well at a distance from other dogs and sometimes even when we get too close by accident (depending on the dogs). He calms down and listens WAY faster after a triggering incident.

Also, I know it’s not a contest, but we have encountered two dogs in the past two days who were a bit reactive, and my dog behaved better. Ha ha! 20 months ago


dragonfly35Session with trainer

Blitz was great during the session with the trainer. She showed me some techniques for working with the issues we are having and talked to me a lot about him in general. He was so good, though, that it was hard to show her the behaviors we are having trouble with.

She said we can go to her house next time and work with her dogs and her cat.

She also said to go ahead and sign up for adult dog class starting May 18th, so I called and reserved us a spot, and will take the paperwork and payment there this week. 20 months ago


dragonfly35Good news

She (the trainer) is coming on Sunday. And I didn’t kill the dog today on our walk. :) Walking on windy days is torture. He gets overexcited and forgets all his training. 20 months ago


dragonfly35Regression

We are struggling with regression (backsliding on “sit”, leash walking, and overall ability to notice that I exist) and fatigue of trainer and trainee.

We are making progress with reactivity to dogs. However, he has developed some new triggers – men, groups of children, and occasionally other random things – never quite know what is going to bring it on. We are not (in my opinion) making any progress with motorcycles or cats. He is so obsessed with cats that it’s hard to find a middle zone between “I have no idea that cat is there” and “I am so obsessed with catching that cat and eating it for a snack that I don’t care about your measly treats.”

We have decided to have the trainer back for one more private lesson, to watch what we are doing and mostly just to encourage me. The group class starts May 18. 20 months ago


dragonfly35Changed dog

Blitz is like a changed dog. Not to say he doesn’t make any mistakes, but the improvement is remarkable. We increased our walk length in the past 24 hours to close to our previous. He needs much fewer treats and will proceed with a loose leash or even heel for positive feedback and the occasional incentive.

Morning walks are the hardest, followed by after dark. Last night and again this morning, he just headed out of the house right at my side. He trusts me to stop at the VIP (very important pee) spots, and so he does a much better job of following my lead and not stopping to smell every last thing. He struggles a bit more with distractions when we get off our familiar block and neither of us is quite as familiar with which spots will be VIP, but overall he trots along happily with the leash loose and often in the heel position. I am hardly treating at all now, except in distracting situations, for obeying specific commands, and the occasional reinforcement for the true heel position.

He is still very triggered at a long distance from another dog, including across the street, which is difficult. Also, the distance at which he is able to relax varies greatly from dog to dog and situation to situation, so it is hard for me to get the distance right. However, things are improving in general. His reactivity is generally delayed, less severe, and recovered from faster than previously. Today, he was able to come back to me after getting too close to a dog. He only gave a little half bark, and then came straight back to focusing fully on me, walking by my side, and sitting on command soon after. Usually, it has been his habit to pull and become unresponsive after a dog gets too close, and to need to mark his territory somewhere immediately afterwards, but none of that happened this morning. I don’t know if it is the Lifeline or the desensitization training or both, but he is doing great! 20 months ago


dragonfly35Progress

We are clearly making progress. I cooked some chicken breast and Blitz loves it. I like it because it is probably healthier than hot dogs, it doesn’t make my fingers stink so much, and I can easily tear off tiny shreds so he is not getting so much in each treat. Hot dogs are effective because they’re stinky, but Blitz is crazy for chicken and very responsive to it.

The extra treats yesterday had an effect on his system, so he got some canned pumpkin with his kibble this evening. Hopefully it does the trick. :) We are already needing fewer treats. He needs lots at the beginning of the walk and in stressful situations (other dogs, cats, motorcycles, ice cream carts, joggers, sirens, etc.) and immediately after such situations. However, he is doing way better after the first couple of blocks, and I’ve started to take him further again. We did a fairly decent walk today, and he was great. He occasionally forgets about the loose leash, but is “yo-yoing” much less and keeping the leash loose again for a while after just one or two mistakes.

He is still “reactive” of course, and his trigger zone seems to vary widely so I don’t always get it right. However, he is more responsive to me sooner during an “episode” and I can usually get him to move away effectively and in a positive way. Also, he is really getting “look at that” when at a suitable distance. Unfortunately, this is still REALLY far most of the time. It’s worse if the dog is approaching.

Things are up and down. We had a terrible time yesterday afternoon – there were just way too many triggers in quick succession and we were basically trapped. lol Today was great. Overall, I feel he is a bit better each time.

I will have to get C to work with him on the weekend. C needs “training” too. He sees how I work with Blitz, but he is less precise and more absentminded, so he needs practice. :) 20 months ago


dragonfly35Two steps forward, one step back.

This title describes the process of mastering loose leash walking very well. It also (metaphorically) describes training in general. After a great afternoon walk yesterday, we had a nightmare of an evening walk. Blitz is always more fired up at night, and we have a harder time avoiding problem situations because our dominant sense (sight) is impaired and Blitz tends to notice the other dogs/ cats/ etc. before we do.

If it was just problems remembering loose leash, that would be one thing. Frustrating, but something I can deal with. However, about midway through, he got triggered by something – I think it was a combination of exciting smells on the ground, jingling keys across the street that he thought were dog tags, and then a dog barking inside a house. Once he gets triggered, his trigger point gets finer and finer for each subsequent encounter. We were, at this point, about 3 blocks from home.

Half a block later, there was a dog in a yard behind a fence. Normally, he’s walk by that for treats (couldn’t see the dog, just hear and smell) but because it was night and he was already fired up, he started barking. We crossed the street to avoid it. He was pulling, so we were stuck in one place unable to proceed (this is the loose leash training), and BAM, a dog came around a corner just a few feet from us. Blitz went ballistic – it was all I could do to hold on. That dog and owner fled, but it took forever to get him calm enough to proceed. I was bruised (literally and figuratively) and a bit out of my depth. Not one but two motorbikes went by (another trigger) but they were quiet ones so they were more triggers for me than for him. Hubby was frustrated, I was frustrated but stubborn and refusing to compromise on the loose leash before moving forward. Unable to do direction changes because we were pinned between where the dog had been, a busy road, and a fence so there was only one direction to move in.

Finally we got moving, made it across the street only to have two dogs come out of a house right in front of us. Got the direction change going this time until they disappeared, then decided to follow them because we were only a block from home. All went well until we had nearly gotten to our house and the owner of the two dogs turned around and headed back. Couldn’t get the door open fast enough – the dogs and owner passed on the sidewalk as we were still on the front porch. Blitz – triggered plus now defensive of his home turf – went ballistic again.

Not happy about this but trying to move forward with a positive attitude. My stress only makes things worse. Clearly this walk was not a good experience for any of us and didn’t further our training. From now on, night walks will be SUPER short until Blitz is better behaved on a leash and with other dogs. We are walking down the block and coming right back.

Of course, this morning’s walk was fabulous. Blitz is having trouble staying seated while I open the door until he gets the command to move forward, but he’s figured out that the door closes again when he gets up, so he has taught himself to look away from the stimulus (the open door) so he can control himself. At least that’s what I think he’s doing. :) He was much better with the loose leash, and we did “look at that” successfully with a cat and a dog until I fumbled getting new treats and didn’t get them to him fast enough.

I’ve redoubled my efforts on training distraction-free in the back yard, and introduced leash training in the back yard for the first time today. I’m starting to get better at multitasking: handling the leash, the treat bag, watching his reactions, dispensing the treats accurately and quickly into his mouth, the “good” feedback, and looking around for possible trouble. When I have to carry a bag of poop too, all bets are off. lol 21 months ago


dragonfly35Blitz thinks he's been very clever...

Whenever he feels like a treat during a walk, he just has to come to my left side and he gets one. I am a treat dispensing machine, and Blitz is an almost-heeling dog. He probably thinks he’s beating the system. :D

Of course, he chased pigeons in the park, barked at a lady crossing the street, and barked at a group of children. :( However, he didn’t bark at any dogs and got lots of treats for looking at them from a distance without barking. Rome wasn’t built in a day, etc.21 months ago


dragonfly35Walks are shorter now

but Blitz is catching onto the loose leash concept really fast. He sometimes forgets and pulls ahead but when I stop, he realizes he needs to come back to the left side. He is already showing some sense of heeling behavior. I think he may have been taught it before.

So far, “look at that” is a total failure. I can’t get him to look at the trigger object unless we are so close that he is triggered. I am also having trouble extricating Blitz from too-close dog encounters without pulling him and getting stressed myself. Sometimes, he’ll come to me when I call and get his treat, but often he will turn back right away and bark before I can get him out of his stress zone.

I did some research about how to play the “look at that” game with neutral objects first. We will try that to start. I have time and patience.

Blitz is so smart and wants to please. We are doing lots of short sessions during the day since I’m on Spring Break. I bet he’ll know all sorts of stuff by the time I go back to work. 21 months ago


dragonfly35It went great!

The trainer came to our house today. She spent some time seeing what Blitz knows and talking to us about the behaviors that concern us. Then we took him for a walk. She gave us lots of things to work on with him.

She also said some interesting things about him:
  • She does not think he is a Border Collie/ Beligian Shepherd. The vet said the same thing (and I kind of wondered about it because of his personality). She thinks there are other breeds in there.
  • She does not think he is 7. She thinks he’s much younger.
  • She thinks he’s been trained before.
  • She thinks he may have pain in one hip because he reacted when she touched him there. She suggested we have him X-rayed.
  • She said it can take 6 months after neutering a dog to see a reduction in behaviors associated with being unaltered.

She says he is not aggressive. She thinks he only ever encountered dogs off-leash before so he is used to being able to go right up to them and play. She thinks he is leash reactive more than aggressive, and she gave us lots of tips for working with him. She says he is OK to join an adult dog class already. (We were worried he would not be OK in the class). She doesn’t have a class starting until May 18, but we want to continue working with her so we’ll enroll then.

Overall the experience was very positive. We did have an intense encounter during the walk. We were working on “look at that” with a cat that was outside two houses down from us, and a pitbull came out of the car or house (not sure) right next to us off leash. The pitbull came over to say hi – things were tense but OK until the other dog smelled the hot dogs in my bag and went for them, and Blitz defended me. Fighting ensued; the neighbor’s Siamese came to join the fight! The trainer yelled at me to drop the leash. The other guy got his dog, and Blitz chased the cat, which escaped him, and then I got Blitz back and everything was OK. I am so glad the trainer was there!!! We learned that Blitz (and the other dog) do not fight to hurt each other, and the trainer said he is protective but not aggressive – so we actually felt good about how it went, and we got a fast diagnosis of his dog reactions, but I don’t mind if I never go through that again. 21 months ago


dragonfly35Good trainer

is coming to our house on Sunday morning. (“Bad trainer” still hasn’t managed to contact me with her recommendation about whether Blitz should have private lessons before joining a group class. We now have come to the conclusion that he should, and are giving our money to another trainer who has been more responsive. I last heard from her on Friday saying she had gotten my emails and that she would write or call on Saturday. Still nothing by today, Tuesday.)

We are supposed to have ready a hungry dog (no breakfast) and some tempting treats. Also, two to three things we want to work on. As far as I’m concerned, there is ONE major thing – manners around other dogs. Blitz has turned out to be quite reactive – I think most of the time playful rather than aggressive, but it is totally unacceptable behavior and currently I am concerned about taking him places where there will be other dogs. This means places that he would want or need to go – dog parks, the groomer, obedience classes, etc.

Yes, there is a list of other minor things, but this is the big one. I have taught him “sit” and he is very close to getting “down”. He knows to do it when I put the treat near the floor, but has not associated the word yet. I have almost trained him out of undesirable behaviors in the house (jumping up and begging at the table). Also, I think the training associated with his dog manners will also help with the other things, which also involve poor behavior on the leash or in the house in response to certain stimuli (usually birds, cats, and motorcycles).

I’m really looking forward to working with this trainer. I think Blitz can learn the basics with good training, and I am willing and able to do daily work with him. I think he would really enjoy more advanced training, perhaps agility training if he is well enough behaved before he is too old lol. He does these amazing jumps and pirouettes when we are about to go for a walk. He knows he’s not supposed to jump up, but he can’t quite contain himself, so he does these little hop-spins. And he’s smart – I think he would enjoy the activity and challenge. He is a long way from that now, though. We have to get some basic focus and obedience happening. 21 months ago


dragonfly35Step One

Step one will be a private lesson at our home. “House calls” are a little more expensive, but they are convenient and we won’t have to take Blitz in the car. (He has been experiencing anxiety and nausea in the car.) We are very impressed with the trainer and looking forward to working with her.

She said that if we need a second lesson at the house, there is a 25% discount if we do our homework – and otherwise it is full price. I kind of like that she is applying incentive to owner training as well. :D This kind of motivation works VERY well for me (kind of like using 43T). Not that we will have trouble doing our homework.

She also provides lots of handouts and much of the information is free on her website. I like that she is very forthcoming and specific about her methods and provides written guidelines. I love the positive training model.

It is her goal to get dogs into group classes as soon as possible – she says they are closer to real life, which is my feeling as well, and of course they are a lot cheaper (5 lessons for the price of one house visit). She seems really great.

She said she needs about a week lead time for house calls. I’m hoping this means she can work with us next weekend for the first time. 21 months ago


dragonfly35Good!

The trainer I was trying to talk to has been very unresponsive. Days between initial contact and first response. I gave her the benefit of the doubt because it was the weekend, but then she has not responded again after I sent two emails. Silly of her because we were considering paying her quite a lot of money to work with us privately.

I contacted a different trainer, and have been much more impressed with her response time. Her email was both efficient and informative. I think she is cheaper, too, and she is recommended by a friend.

She thinks we should do private lessons and lots of practice with Blitz, and then take her group training which starts in May. This is the one I had mentioned here before. I think this makes sense. We should work on his reactivity before we take him into a group class.

One of her sample handouts (to help us get an idea of her training style) is exactly what wren described doing with Becca. Everything she sent makes a lot of sense to me and feels like how I want to work with my dog. In one very short email, she has given me a lot of confidence in her method and I believe that she can help us help Blitz be a good dog. I feel very excited and hopeful. 21 months ago


dragonfly35Meanwhile...

Waiting to figure out the training thing. We’ve mastered “sit” pretty well and are working on “down”. Blitz does it most of the time for the cookie but hasn’t done it for the command alone yet. He’s not indicating that he’s associating the word with the action yet. Still working on it.

His re-call is better. I can only really practice in the back yard or on the leash, since I am not confident to let him off leash in the dog park yet, but he is showing signs of recognizing his name and comes when called.

He is getting way better on walks. We are working on staying calm and “leaving” other dogs, cats, squirrels, birds, people, smells, etc. Every once in a while, there’s something that makes him go ballistic, but I can get him to switch to calm, happy body language and walk away now much of the time. Walking by is a little harder, at least with dogs and cats, but it is getting better.

We are also working on the concept of sitting around various places. I put him on the leash today and sat on the front porch with him instead of taking him on a walk. We’ve also been sitting or standing around in the middle of walks (place of my choosing). At first, he hated this, but now he just chills. We are working on the idea of staying calm and happy when people and animals walk by the screen door. I can usually switch his body language by telling him it’s OK – forestalling the bark.

I am hopeful that we will be able to overcome the problem behavior and have him socialize (relatively) freely with other dogs. 21 months ago


dragonfly35Corresponding

with the trainer about whether or not group lessons would be appropriate for him. As he gets more comfortable with us, I become more concerned about his behavior with other dogs. He was not too bad in the vet today, but I’m not too sure…

Private lessons are an option. Hers would be more expensive than some, but she’s a trainer we’d likely go on to work with later in group classes…

Food for thought. Blitz is smart, and he’s improving more each day, but I would hate for him to ruin the class for everyone else. 21 months ago


dragonfly35Contacted

the place recommended by my friend. Their classes are actually very affordable! Unfortunately, they don’t have an adult dog class starting until 5/18. Then I found another place on Yelp right in our neighborhood. This is more expensive, but it is walking distance from our house and she does very small groups – 3 dogs. I wrote to ask her if she still has availability and if my dog sounds suitable for the class. It starts at the end of March, so we might do that if it works out. 21 months ago


dragonfly35Good for him

and good for us. :) Asked a friend for a reference to her trainer, but I may just try the cheapo classes at Petco. 21 months ago


iSqueakGetting there.

Brody starts puppy class March 10th! 22 months ago


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