On a cold Valentine’s Day Saturday morning, Kathy and I begin our much needed around town training with Rags. We can hopefully teach her some manners as she walks in and about other people and dogs. We will see how it goes. In the mean time it’s time to gather her papers, the chopped up cheese and her gentle leader and off we go. Fortunately for Rags the gentle leader was all twisted and we couldn’t get to work so Rags practice all the time just with her harness on.
So we get to class and there is a lot going on in the St. Hubert’s parking lot. The previous class is still in session and there are lots of dogs all over. We wisely used that time to practice a little walking around all these distractions until we were let into ring #2. Once in Ring #2 we discovered Leah Hartley was our teacher and there were only 3 other dogs in the class. This gave us lots of nice personalized attention along with the nicely attentive TA, Karen.
Leah interviewed us to see what we wanted to get out of the class and then she tested us all on our sit, sown stays. For the first time in my life I was able to walk around rags while she was in a down-stay. She was unbelievably well behaved and never once barked at any of the dogs in the class or other distractions we encountered along the way. It was a real worthwhile experience.
On the way home we stopped at the Swiss Chalet for breakfast and we saw Adam Batt roll up on his bicycle in his winter biking outfit where i didn’t recognize him. I thought he was one of the schleps from the Marty rides. I now look forward to our 3 other classes in this around town mode. Great stuff for Rags.
I did the second class by myself without Kathy, and in addition, there were only 3 dogs in the class and 2 instructors. Needless to say, we received a lot of personal attention. This class focused on “leave it” more so than anything else. It meant to leave the treat on the ground, leave the fire hydrant, leave the pedestrian, etc. By then end of the hour Rags was really responding to the cue. All the practice Kathy does in the basement really pays off. Reward with a treat when she makes eyes contact with you after being given the “leave it” command.
I did the third class by myself and it was just me and another big dog with the two teachers. Once again very specialized and focused training. I got there 3 minutes early, parked in the Stop and Shop Parking lot giving me some breathing room to get Rags settled in.
We got into the class and it was just Leah, Karen, me and Rags. For a while it seemed as if I would be the only student, but another dog showed up. I was able to keep good focus ob Rags as the new dog came into the room. In essence we practiced 3 techniques for Rags:
- “Say Hi” to stranger with rewarding for sniffing their palm.
- A recall practice to practice “here” when distracted by a piece of food or getting treats from a stranger. We used the long lead on this one to give a little tug when they ignored the “here” command at a distance.
- Walk behind me on the left. Teach Rags to only walk behind me on the left. A wall on my left shoulder is a great technique tpo learn and practice this action. In addition, using my left foot to block here advancing in front of me helped.
A really good class overall, I feel we made good progress today.
Last day of class is on a beautiful Saturday morning, March 7, and walking around town today was beautiful and not cold like every other class. Kathy joined me on our last class and I have to say Rags behaved beautifully. We encountered many people and distractions around town, had a few nice strangers says “hi” and we did well. We worked on wait at a distance. We did the emergency sit stay but it wasn’t much of an exercise. Leah’s a great teacher, she gave us a few tips to take into the futures. The best being the walking with her not being allowed to be in font of me and the “leave it.”
In the end it was a very beneficial class now if I remain focus and concentrated with Rags on the leash she will come around to act like a dog that doesn’t embarrass me every time a distraction approaches.