Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Socks graduated

Last night was the final week of our dog obedience class, so it was Socks's graduation. Most of the class was games and tests and demos, not training. Socks didn't do that great, partially because we haven't put as much time into her homework as we might have -- we've been very busy, after all; partially because she's the oldest dog in the group and we didn't have her impressionable, quick-to-learn puppyhood to work with; and partially because she was so distracted by the firemen coming in and out (she just loves to meet people). Even so, she was able to do the important stuff.

One thing we were supposed to do is teach her one trick. This was a basics class focusing on good behavior and a good relationship, so tricks are outside the scope of the class, but they asked us to find one to teach her. I only got to work on one for a few days, and I decided to try clicker-training on "find my keys". At home, she was doing okay at it, not great but okay. If the keys were nearby, she'd find them most of the time, but if they were across the room, it would be good odds she'd forget what she was doing or become more interested in me, or just laying down. At the class, she was completely distracted by a fireman, and I only got her to nose my keys while they were in my hand once. Still, the class was impressed by the idea of it, at least.

We probably won't go to the intermediate class, or if we do it won't be for a while. What we wanted out of this class is to know the tools for keeping her well-behaved and happy with her place in the family, and we got that. She is so much better behaved now than a few weeks ago, it's amazing. She doesn't wake us up, she's almost never mouthy, she very rarely needs a timeout, she doesn't bark much, and she knows to sit to ask for things.

We still need to work on her leash behavior -- she's still a puller, not as bad as before but still pretty bad. And we have some work to do on getting her "come" down to where we can take her out off the leash. Those will both take a while; they're the hardest things in basic to train because they go against canine instincts. But now we know how to do it; it's just a matter of taking the time. And that's why the intermediate class would be a waste; we already have a lot of things to do with her that we haven't taken the time to do, so no sense adding more. In eight weeks we'll consider if we want to go to it, but I doubt we will. We never really wanted her to learn tricks. We just wanted her to behave and be happy in her home.

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