First Dog Obedience Class
Ellie had a blast at the first dog obedience class. Although she is one of the older dogs in the dog obedience class she was very receptive to everything that was going on and was excited to meet some new pups.
What to Bring to Dog Obedience Class
We were required to bring a limited slip collar or a martingale collar, a mat for the dog, a pouch of treats, a five to six feet long lead and a favorite toy not a ball. I had to go out and purchase the martingale collar and my treat pouch, for my larger dogs, is a nail bag for carpenters bought from the home store. There are newer designed collars called limited slip collars that will close on a dog’s neck but only so far and will not close all the way like a chain slip collar. For the treats I took some advice from a dvd I have on Natural Dog Training and soaked some of Ellie’s kibble (Orijen dog food) in just enough water to cover. It took several hours but the kibble absorbed the water and softened the bites. I think the point is to have treats that will get the dog’s attention, be a small bite and soft so the dog keeps attention on the training and not eating. Then I cut up some hot dogs, first in half then some smaller pieces out of the halves. I took a half a cup of food and three hot dogs and still ran out of treats at the end of the hour long session. I will have a backup of something store bought next time, just in case. Everything else I had. Ellie is a retriever and really does not care about soft toys. It is ball, ball, and ball for her. I have a Hurley by West Paw design that I took for the toy. Treats were more than enough to keep her attention and the other dogs were good distractions.
What we worked on in the first dog obedience class
Out of all the dogs there half were under a year but all over six months old. The rest were a couple of years old and the oldest was a little over four.
The first exercise in the dog obedience class we worked on was learning how to charge a word or a click from a clicker by use of treats. Basically among all the limited chaos of the class when the dog looked towards the handler a “yes”, “good” click or some word was used to associate getting the treat with a consistent, recognizable sound. The timing is everything and has to be spot on.
Next we worked on rewarding the dog when they looked at the handler face. You wait until the dog looks up, reward and click or say the charged word from the first exercise. I used “yes” as the word. If the distractions were too much some slight sound to get the dog’s attention is used but only if necessary.
Next we worked with the “sit” command. First the treat was pulled across the head of the dog by the handler from nose towards the tail which will naturally, if they are following the treat, put the dog in a sit position. The exercise started without verbal commands as most of these exercises do but quickly followed up with the verbal “sit”, a reward and a “yes”.
Next we used what was called the “name game” which consisted of allowing the dog get distracted, calling their name and rewarding for them coming to you. This, we were told, is the prerequisite to the “recall” command. Something we need to work a lot on.
The next dog obedience class exercise was called the “walk back” of something similar. Start to walk with the dog and when they go to pull, as both mine always do, you stop and walk backwards pulling on the dog lightly. No tugs or correction moves like a snap of the leash off to the side. You want the dog to change direction naturally. When the dog turns and walks towards the handler the reward is given.
“Leave it” was the next command we worked on. A treat was in my right hand and I let Ellie sniff it. Immediately she wants it. With closed fist I kept it in front of her until she lost interest (pretty quickly) and zinged her with a reward that was in the other hand behind my back and a “yes”. She never gets the treat in the right hand. We continued this until she would leave the right hand with the treat alone and then we start opening the hand to keep her attention, closing the hand if she approached. Later in the exercise the “leave it” command was added.
Finally the last exercise of the class was the “place” command. You stand with your dog around the mat we brought and when the dog simply touches the mat you reward. Working up to a sit on the mat and working in the command “place” when they successfully get on the mat.
We were left with instructions to practice every day only five to ten minutes at a time during the week.
First Dog Obedience Class Impressions
Ellie and I worked a couple times during the week. Not as much as I would have liked but two jobs, two dogs and married life gets in the way of what we would like to do. However with those excuses aside I can find time to train especially when it has been recommended to keep the sessions short. I did work with Otis the younger of my two dogs as well. A little anxious, he bit my thumb. He will go to the next session of dog obedience class.
Ellie is a fast learner and at 2 and 3/4 years old she doesn’t seem to be too old. she is very excitable which I find works as a good challenge when training. The other challenges are my timing with the reward. It really helps to have someone that is experienced there to give guidance and this is the key point of me enrolling in dog obedience class. This part of the training is something I just could not get a handle on and am doing much better with personal guidance.
There were two instructors, one lead and an assistant.
The area has padding on the floor and is very well setup for these type of classes. Both of us are excited about joining in the dog obedience class.