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Basic Obedience: First Class

When it came to obedience classes, I was torn. Maybelle knew most of her basic commands before I even took her home from the Humane Society. In the room where they let you get to know the dog I took a cookie out of a jar, asked her to sit and she did it instantly. I asked for her paw and she gave it readily. She was obviously a smartypants. When I got her home it became more and more clear that someone had spent a lot of time training her. She’s pretty respectful of doorways and lets me go through first. She doesn’t get excited everytime I grab the leash, and it quickly became obvious that she had at cursory knowledge of how to “heel”–or she picked it up super quick. Who can tell?

But as time went on I found a few behaviors we needed help with. When we go hiking and are constantly meeting new dogs, she pulls and tugs. And though she knows darn well how to come when called, she tunes me out when, say, the lady across the road is in her front yard with her Pomeranians, or May has worked herself up into a herding frenzy. So I called up the obedience school that works with the Humane Society and asked what would happen if we signed up for basic but May was bored out of her mind. They said they would see how she does with distraction and then, if appropriate, move us to the intermediate class. So, I signed up. 

Tuesday was our first class together. (I went to the people-only class last week.) It was…interesting. We mostly worked on “sit” and “down.” Maybelle knew “sit” long before I met her, but she’s never particularly liked “down.” When she does it, it’s always begrudgingly. But it was good to practice with three other dogs around — one of which was fairly unruly, and definitely irked her. She doesn’t like that kind of disorder. Still, within a few tries we were making great progress on her “down” and, more importantly, we were getting a lot of practice redirecting her attention from  the nutty dog back to me.

I am, however, having flashbacks to sophomore English in high school. My teacher got mad at me for reading too far ahead when we read To Kill a Mockingbird. I feel like that is going to be my fate with this class. I’ve already read way ahead in our packet to apply the lessons to daily life — especially when it comes to working on our “heel.”



About TheresaMC

Basically, I'm a reader and a writer, just trying to negotiate the changing world of publishing.

One response »

  1. Quickie- for pulling dogs, I love a leash called the Weiss Walkie. It attaches to your dog’s flat collar and loops around the ribs, and instantly tightens when your dog pulls – but instantly releases when she stops. It’s soft nylon rope, doesn’t choke or chafe, and doesn’t resemble a muzzle the way head collars do. This leash is gaining popularity in shelters – and I’d never try to walk a puller without it! Best of all, it teaches your dog that she’s in charge of her reactions; she’ll quickly discover that no pull means no tightness!


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