Dennis and I went to our first obedience class last night. We are signed up for 5 weeks of classes at Mr. Dog located in West Bath, Maine. The lady who owns it has been voted the best dog trainer in Maine for a couple years now. I figured, how could we go wrong with that? I must admit, with that kind of fire power I had high hopes. Visions of a grand champion obedience hound. I cannot say why I had these delusions given the fact that I had taken Bettina to a training class when she first joined me and learned pretty quickly that high hopes are dangerous.
|Watching all the other dogs sit and get tons of yummy treats.|
But my hopes for Dennis were reinforced when two of the participants were so freaked out they had to take part behind blanket draped x-pens so as not to see the other participants in the class. Most of the rest were yanking their owners all around the room. We had two young labs, one on each side ofus, and they were hauling their owners out of their seats. Dennis was excited but he calmly stood there in front of me, slightly leaning on my leg for reassurance. He looked like a rock star in this group.
My head swelled all up. Dennis was going to be the gold star student. We were going to show up everyone and I would practice being humble. I was already practicing in my head. The trainer went around and introduced herself to each pet parent and dog. When she got to us the first thing out of her mouth after “this must be Dennis” was “you know greyhounds don’t sit, right?”
I assured her I knew that but in this case, Dennis was a natural sitter. Frequently he sits for the heck of it. We so got this. Except of course, we hadn't got this. Of course we had to start with sit. My old nemeses sit. The trainer told us what she wanted us to do and demonstrated with a little Chihuahua who sat perfectly. Then I watched as the labs on either side of us also nailed perfect sits. I took a deep breath and asked Dennis for a sit. He looked at me. I moved on to step two, taking a piece of hot dog, holding it first in front of his nose and then up over his head. Dennis would only back up. His butt, which the trainer assured us would naturally sink to the floor when you held the treat over their head, didn’t get anywhere near the floor.
|Blurry yes, but PROOF that he sits...when he wants to.|
We tried a few times and then took a rest. Tried a few more times, took a rest. Dennis was getting discouraged because he wasn’t earning any of those yummy pieces of hot dog. Soon he stopped paying any attention to me and started watching the dogs all around us who were getting stuffed full treats. Finally I felt bad and just started giving him treats. We’d celebrate the fact that he looked at me when I said his name. Or that he held my gaze for a second before turning back to watch the other dogs.
Eventually I just gave up all together and sat there while everyone practiced a sit and stay until released. Dennis started to drool a little watching everyone get treats. I was beginning to think maybe this was not such a great idea and now we were locked into 4 more weeks of this. Luckily we switched to learning to target. I think the trainer could read the look on my face since she chose to use Dennis as her demonstration dog for this.
He picked it up quickly and was touching her palm like a super dog. Then it was my turn. I did manage to get him to touch my palm. I will admit that it has been awhile since I’ve done much training and I quickly realized how sloppy I was with my commands and rewards. We practiced target a bit and Dennis was happy to be getting fed finally. So our first training class ended on a high note, but we are not setting the world on fire. Mumma’s vanity and pride have suffered a bit of a hit. That’s what I get, I guess, for being a stage mom.