Spacefem (spacefem) wrote,

puppy training class

So Judy "graduated" from puppy kindergarten last week... all I can say is it's a good thing there was no exit exam!

We learned some good things. The problem with training a puppy is that it's hard to tell if their progress is caused by the training, or just by growing up a little. There were six dogs in this class and we literally watched them all get bigger together, especially the tiny yellow lab. Judy is still "her size", under 40 pounds, medium dog. But she doesn't fit in her bed like she used to, that's for sure.

Here's the basic rundown of what we learned:

Week 1 we were supposed to learn to "sit" but our dog was special in this department, and by that I mean especially stupid. Luckily our trainer diagnosed our failure as an attention problem. Judy just didn't care about people much. We'd hold a treat, and if she didn't get the treat within 0.8 seconds, she lost interest. So our homework was to reward her every time she was just paying attention, work on eye contact, call her name a lot and train her to respond to us, in general.

We also addressed some problems. I complained that Judy would eat Josie's toys when I was at home, just one at a time, I'd spend the whole time chasing the dog trying to get the toys away. The solution: don't try to grab or take anything. If she's eating a toy, make a loud noise or clap or yell so she thinks the world is ending, then when she drops it praise her. It worked surprisingly well. I'm not going to say we're perfect, but I don't chase the dog.

I complained about Judy biting me a lot, our trainer suggested the "stop playing and be a tree" approach. This is one of those things where Judy might have just outgrown her chewy puppy stage. She does still nip a little but it's nothing like what it was, when I just couldn't play with her.

Learned that it's important to have a "neutral" word you can use, like "oops!" to use when your dog does something that just isn't quite right. Like, you tell her to "sit" and she lays down. You have to reserve "no" for truly bad things. I've actually applied this to baby training too, crazy as that sounds, it all goes back to the idea that you can't be constantly yelling at your kid.

Anyway, I'd have to say things are much better with Judy. She's calmer, I feel more empowered. Marc even got her to roll over a couple times! Having a dog is still a big life-changer that I'm not sure we're seeing all the benefits of, but maybe we all just have to grow into it.
Tags: dog
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