Posted by: Jessica | January 7, 2010

Our First Puppy Class

On Monday, Reed went to his first puppy class! We are mostly going for the socialization and practice, since he has his basics (sit, down, stay, come) down pretty well. We really need to start working on Loose Leash Walking – so far Reed is doing well but I haven’t actually tried to teach him the idea yet. Kyle came with us, which was great.

There were a few other dogs, we had 3 labs, one 5 month old and two closer to Reed’s age, a small beagle mix, and a little yorkie. The beagle mix loved Reed, she just chewed on him non-stop. The little yellow lab also liked Reed, they played well together.

Class went well. Reed did sit and down whenever I asked him. We’re still working on Watch Me but he did great when I needed him to. What I didn’t like about the class was how much play time there was. In an hour class, I won’t do more than 10 minutes of play, and not until the end. The dogs need to earn it first! The problem I have with doing half of the class playtime is that the dogs start to associate coming to training as coming to play – and then they get wound up, and can’t focus.

One thing that was nice about it was it gave me a chance to point out some examples of training Do’s and Dont’s with Kyle. For example, I saw a big mistake the trainer was making with the black lab puppy, and asked him later if he saw the pattern developing. While the trainer was talking, the little black lab would see another dog and start pulling towards it, and barking. The trainer would then let the dogs have playtime. What behavior is the dog learning here? What is she going to do the next time she wants to play?

The trainer also didn’t explain why we were doing what we were doing. I’ve found that when introducing someone to clicker training, you have to create several analogies and examples to explain to them how it works and why. If you don’t, you end up with people not using the clicker, or using it incorrectly. I often see people who will click and not treat, click after the treat, click to get the dog’s attention, or double click. This is a result of them just not understanding the concepts involved.

All in all Reed did pretty perfectly. I was very proud of him. Kyle did a few repetitions of sit and down with him using the clicker. We’re going to try to have Kyle and Reed come to one of my classes as well, so I’ll update once we get there!

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