Julius and I are four weeks into his first formal class. When I took the Karen Pryor Foundations Class he was my practice dog but that is about all he has gotten in the way of any formal training whereas Ray has taken three series of classes. What this new series of classes has done for the three of us is really astonishing to me although to many it may be just a “duh” moment. I’ll tell you a little secret: we always considered Julius a little on the simple side, especially compared to Ray, even though many of Juli’s responses are more like regular dog responses. I began to realize that Juli’s simplicity stemmed more from my own shortcomings and impatience with shaping, and not at all from him so we decided to enroll in class. Julius is my dog of the world and though I once hoped Ray would earn his CGC, I know that is more of Juli’s destiny so off to school we went.
I’d say the biggest bonus was that once Ray realized what Julius and I were doing, he began to brush up on his own cues, so as we sit on opposites of the kitchen we sharpen our skills as a family.
I love getting both of my big guys engaged which just makes us bond that much more and although I may be anthropomorphizing a bit, I feel like their self-esteem is skyrocketing as well. Since they have learned some of their cues differently I try to be very conscious about rewarding any blending that they may do. I’m telling you though, I’m so geeked out with all of the things Julius is learning that I nearly shed tears of pride each week. I think that tonight when he so quickly caught on to putting his feet on the squishy bone Jan, the trainer and I nearly started hopping up and down with glee.
Really Reliable Training
Tonight after class one of the “students” got loose in the parking lot and while her dad tried chasing her around frantically, we heard “pup pup pup pup” in a high-pitched voice from her mom and the little dog responded immediately and ran back to her mom’s waiting arms while the rest of us clapped our appreciation. I’d like to say that got me thinking about a recent encounter, but the truth is, I was just happy for that family and drove home with an air of contentment.
A few weeks ago as I was walking Ray, I realized the neighbor’s little Yorkie pup was loose. I’d never seen him before but I’d met them a week or two prior when they were combing the neighborhood for him. Now my Ray-Ray is great on walks for the most part. When dogs
lose their shit bark from behind fences, doors, or windows he completely ignores them and often crosses to the other side of the street but coming head on is still more of a catastrophe. I can usually lure him into a fairly decent ignore if I haven’t been able to change walking directions quickly enough but as far as his walks go, Ray has a pretty standard path he like to tow and he doesn’t often deviate, so the day the Yorkie was trying to engage him in play by bouncing in circles around us was a freaking disaster. I was trying to get Ray away, trying to keep the Yorkie away, cussing yelling at the kids to get their dog, yelling at the hubby who was yelling at me all while Ray was trying to have himself a nice Yorkie peppermint patty. That we got in the house without any physical trauma to the dogs (other than Ray’s nails getting trimmed a bit) and without me falling down was a miracle.
Tonight as a reward for being so patient and sweet while Julius was in class, I decided to take Ray for a quick walk before tackling the search for some dinner for myself and as we rounded the corner what did my wondering eyes see but Barak the Yorkie strolling around the street. “Ray, let’s go home.” Blank stare. “Ray, let’s go the other way.” Blank stare. “Ray, danger!” We immediately did an about-face and trotted as fast as my old and his lame legs would take us back to the front door of our home where I got his harness off and went back out to help wrangle the wayward Yorkie after which Ray and I resumed our walk.
Worth More Than Gold
I’m honestly astounded by the number of people who resist the thought of “obedience classes.” I put that in quotations because that is actually the last thing I think of when I think of class. Communication class may be a better phrase, or maybe Understanding Class or Bonding Class would work. The fee you pay will be worth more than the replacement fee for your favorite shoes, your sofa, your drywall or your sanity and it will sure as hell help keep your dog in your home. Amortize the fee over x amount of weeks and add in the few minutes each day when you get to practice one on one (or two on one) with your dog and get to watch him blossom and you’ll realize it’s the best bit of change you could have ever spent because the reward is immeasurable.
Oh! And as Ray and I resumed our walk we ran into Barak’s mom who asked us about training classes, so we will be dropping info off to her tomorrow.
Many thanks to Janis, Margery, Jodie and Lesley .