Top o’ the morning to you! I know you guys have probably been beside yourselves wanting to know more details about Huxley’s first day of dog training, or “Puppy Kindergarten” as I like to call it. Well your wait is over…today’s the day! 😛
I believe I had some technical difficulties with the Scattered Saturday post, and Huxley’s ‘first day of school pic’ was left out. He was looking too cute for ya’ll to miss out on it. Say cheese!
So cute! It’s kind of hard to tell in this pic, but his paws have really shot out these past couple of weeks. The trainer said that typically around 5 months this will happen, and it’s a good indication of what size he’ll be as an adult. If paws could talk, his would be telling us that he’s still got some growing to do!
We got a good nights sleep on Friday night and I made sure Huxley had a hearty breakfast…no puppy of mine was going to school with an empty stomach to distract him! (This was really done moreso in an effort to protect my wallet than to help his concentration…training took place in a pet store, with bags and bins of dog food all around. I was afraid he’d rip into some of them with his sharp little teeth if I didn’t feed him well enough.)
I was a little nervous about taking Hux…and about training in the middle of the store. Would the other puppies know more? Would they be better behaved? Would Huxley poop in the floor of the store? Would people be staring at us like we were in a fish tank?
As usual, my worries were for nothing. There didn’t end up being any other “students” in the class, so there were no comparisons to be made between Huxley and other puppies. And although there were other shoppers in and out of the store, most of them were dragging around their own dogs…and quite a few of them looked like they should have invested in some training as well.
I’ve spoken with the trainer several times on the phone, and I think I even mentioned her in an earlier post. For our purposes we’ll call her Mrs. H. She has a quite impressive resume, working in various animal clinics, grooming parlors, farms and as a zookeeper. She was an exotic animal trainer for a while and has crazy stories about alligators and chimpanzees and lions. Oh the stories that girl could tell.
<Seriously. She and Chris spent about 35 minutes talking during the session. Cool stories for sure, but I’m hoping next time we see a little less talking and a little more training.>
As I filled out the initial paperwork, Mrs. H had a few questions for us about what type of research we’d done before getting Huxley (google), our observations about the breed (strong-willed, independent, too smart for their own good), and the extent of our training efforts. I could just see the amused look in her eyes when I told her that I’d “read a couple of books.” Then, when I told her all the things Huxley could already do, her mouth said “Oh good”…but her eyes said “Yeah, we’ll see about that.” I probably was able to recognize it so well because I know I feel the same way about my parents at school sometimes. 😛
When it was time to get started with the training, she let us know that during session 1 we’d be working on teaching eye contact/the command “Look” and walking on a loose-leash. “Oh good,” I said. “We’ve already been working with him on those things.” “I’ll bet you have,” her eyes said back.
Even though she didn’t give me credit for having already taught him when Huxley sailed through the “Look” / eye contact command, I felt proud of him for showing that he could do it. It definitely helped that we had bacon in our hands, but I can confidently say that it is a command he is obediant to on a consistent basis. We checked that one off the agenda in about 5 minutes.
The rest of our “training time” (this does not include the talking time) was spent working on his loose-leash skills. Although we have worked with him on this, and he’s shown great improvement since we first started, I knew it was a skill that definitely had room for improvement. She explained that the goal is for him to learn to walk right beside us and that he wouldn’t pull at the leash. In other words, we should be taking him for a walk, not the other way around.
He did so-so with Chris, but he was really wanting to pull on the leash with me. Mrs.H asked if she could just try something with him, and warned us that although it looked scary, it wouldn’t hurt him. THIS is what she wanted to use…
That, my dear friends, is a pinch collar. At first I was shouting “NO!” in my head, but since she’s the expert I gave her the benefit of the doubt and listened to what she had to say. (If only more parents would remember to do that with their children’s teachers…but that’s another
soap-box post.) She explained that she had always been against pinch collars until about a year ago when she experienced such success with one. The prongs are actually not sharp at all, and they lay against the dogs neck in a way that only puts pressure if the dog pulls against the leash. (Much like a dog mama’s teeth would do to her puppy…)
We agreed to let her try it, and the effects were very apparent right from the start. Huxley never yelped or barked, so I knew it wasn’t hurting him. He did try to shake it off, but he looked more annoyed than anything else. And without doubt, he stayed close by Chris’ side and stopped pulling on the leash. He even looked up at Chris pretty regularly, just to check in I guess. It was actually really cute, and something new – usually on a walk we are the last thing on his mind, but this time he was looking to Chris for direction.
She said we should only need to use it for a week or so, just to train his brain and muscles that he should walk with us, not against us. I’m hoping that by our next session we won’t even need it anymore.
The other part of walking on the leash that we worked on was teaching Huxley to stop and sit whenever we stop walking. This was probably my biggest “aha” moment of the day, because I hate when we stop to talk to a neighbor and he starts jumping and clawing to get them.
<I hate it so much because from a personal level I hate it when others people’s dogs jump on me. I always say “Oh, it’s okay!” But it’s really not.>
Other than that, Huxley mostly chilled while the humans talked. Mrs. H was super impressed by his behavior, and said he’s probably the calmest corgi puppy she’s ever seen. 😀 That made me feel good…he can definitely have his wild and crazy moments, but overall I think he’s adopted my calm attitude. Of course he got to meet the shoppers who walked by, and he even listened to me and “sat,” even when he wanted to be jumping on and trying to play with the other dogs in the store.
Overall, I think it’s safe to say he earned an A+!
He was so sleepy afterwards and took quite a long nap afterwards…guess it was a lot to take in.
On the agenda for next week is sit (got that one down), come (taught it, but he doesn’t always do it) , and puppy socialization. That’s going to be a big one for us, because Huxley has been invited to our couple’s bible study in a couple of weeks. 😉
Hopefully Huxley will be one well-mannered pup when our six week class is said and done…just in time for his little “surgery.” He’s just growing right up!
KEEP CALM & TRAIN ON!