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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Dog Training


Honey is generally good at Sit, Stay, Down, Paw, Wait, Come, Watch me.....but....if I have a treat and clicker in hand, she is THERE.

Honey is a proud graduate of the PetSmart Beginner's Training Dog Classes. This is a great, reasonably-priced, eight-week course offered at the PetSmart store in Ventura. It was a nice opportunity for additional socialization and to learn some new commands (she really had sit and stay down before we got there from training at her doggie day care.) It is a bright, friendly store and a lot of treats were involved so she was very happy.

Of course, when we walked in to the first evening class, quite a few non-pit lovers pulled their puppies close to them and sent intense body language for us to sit elsewhere but, Honey was oblivious (I'm the one that sweats it out.) She endeared herself to them quickly though. As we entered the ring, her tail wagging like mad, a French bulldog who was supposed to be restrained on the lap of its owner reached way out and bit Honey around her nose, hard enough to draw blood. Honey let out a slight whimper, pulled back and avoided this dog for the rest of the night. The owners never apologized (I think they were embarrassed) but everyone else felt bad for Honey as she sat there patiently with three little blood marks around her nose. (All the dogs have had their shots so I know there was no danger but it was pretty awful.) Then, when a nearby puppy came close enough to Honey, she gave it one of her trademark licks all over the face and everyone warmed to Honey and wanted to know more about the breed (and all the media misinformation).

Most of the dogs were about five months old which made Honey - at a year and a half - look like the kid in class who had been left behind - far behind. It also gave her an unfair advantage with a longer attention span and a great desire to please ---- or did she just want the treats?

There are specific signs that go with the words, "Sit" includes a brief swoop up with the hand while the index and thumb hold the treat. "Down" is a quick point down (if you don't want a dog to jump up - use "Off"). To train for "Watch me," you hold a treat between your eyes. You're supposed to get them to go up to 30 seconds. I believe Honey would stay there forever if the treat looked good enough. "Stay" is important - of course - and very, very useful. She was the Stay star - wouldn't move a muscle no matter where I went.

It is all done with positive training techniques and the clicker is a great reinforcement sound. They associate it with a treat and it is a really clear, distinctive cue. Only problem is when other people use a clicker, because Honey wants to perform whatever is necessary to get the treat out of that owner's hand. She will go sliding over to them in a sit position to show them that, even though their dog isn't obeying, she'll do whatever is necessary.

We will be back training in two and a half weeks. I am going to take her into PetSmart to see the teacher (she is in love with the trainer there, Rich - I think it's the sausage treats) and we'll try signing up for the Intermediate class. It will be low stress on her leg and give her some excitement. The rehab countdown begins....

2 Comments:

Blogger Boomer said...

So did Honey receive a diploma?
If so, did he eat it?
I think Honey looks like such a friendly dog. Maybe she would be good in the movies or TV.
Maybe a big producer will see her on the internet so, who knows...

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Catbird said...

That Honey...what a sweetie!

I stumbled across your blog while surfing Technorati, and stayed here to visit with Honey awhile.

I was so impressed with her that I blogged about her, too. Come see!

1:40 PM  

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