Sunday, January 08, 2012

Our first day of training

Our first dog training session is over. There were about eleven other dogs there with three trainers which seemed like a good ratio. 

We were happy to see that Gozer wasn't the only barky dog there - she wasn't even one of the worst! We had some trouble controlling her barking at first and the owner of the place came over and helped us. She tried to correct Gozer's barking and realized quite quickly that correcting Gozer with a regular leash pop just doesn't work. She's got a super-long neck so the leash doesn't fall in the right place, no matter how much we tighten the martingale collar, and we end up pulling against her shoulders, which are very strong.

She asked if we'd be willing to try a Gentle Leader head collar and at this point we're ready to try just about anything to correct the barking. These collars have one strap that goes over the muzzle and another that goes behind the head with the leash ring underneath the muzzle. When the dog is corrected with a leash pop, the dogs head turns towards the person holding the leash so the dog can't continue to pull forward. 

The trainer put the collar on her and it was like night and day with respect to leash correction. Before, we couldn't correct her at all or stop her from barking and suddenly she was responding to the correction. She stopped barking right away and hardly barked through the rest of the hour even though the dogs on either side of us were barkier than she is. This wonderful behaviour came at a price, however: she does not like that collar at all. She tried to pull it off her muzzle with her paws which of course wouldn't work. 

We took the collar home and I used it on tonight's walk. She hated it again and would paw at it by taking both of her paws and trying to pull off the muzzle strap. It was adorably cute when she did it but it's not something we can allow so I had to stop her. If I caught her soon enough I could just pull her along but if not I'd have to stop and pull her paws away from the muzzle. After a while she got used to the collar and walked normally. I kept the walk easy and let her sniff as we went along so that she'd enjoy the experience.

Anyways, back to the training. I know we did seven different things but I don't remember all of them - it kind of went by in a blur. I found it quite tiring because I had to learn to do things differently than I currently do. For example, the praise word the trainer is teaching us is "yes" and I usually use "good girl". I'm also not very coordinated so I had some trouble figuring out which hand to use to hold the leash and the treat and when to say what.

For all that, it was a very productive session and I enjoyed it. I felt comfortable in the environment and with the trainers. This training will be quite a time commitment because we have lots to practice this week but I have high hopes that by the time we're done we'll have a reasonably well-trained dog. 

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