"Every government interference in the economy consists of giving an unearned benefit, extorted by force, to some men at the expense of others." Ayn Rand

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Puppy Training Class One

Well, last Wednesday finally passed, and seven o'clock came, and I got to go to my first class. Wow, this is going to be hard. But I'm still as excited as I was before...even more. Barbara and Randy were nice to have it at their home in Milton, DE. It's about an hour and fifteen minute drive from home. Pat, the regional director, was there. She's going to teach us how to do this!

The first hour we watched a short video, and heard about "do's" and "don'ts". Know what some of the "don'ts" are?

  • Don't ever give the dog any human food. Never. Ever.
  • Don't ever let the dog up on furniture.
  • In the car, the dog must ride on the passenger side floorboard.
  • A male dog must never be allowed to learn to lift his leg.
That was just a few of the things that we're going to be learning how to (and how not to) do. How do you teach a dog not to lift it's leg? I always thought it was instinctual, but Pat (the trainer) said no, it's a learned behavior.

I hope we get a female. Then we only have to deal with two heat cycles per year.

After the first hour, we did a few training exercises. The first one was funny. I was the trainer, and another man was the dog. I was shown the thing that I had to get him to do (it was shake his head from side to side); the trick was that all I could say was the word "Yes" and give him kibble (hard candies, in this instance).

This was so hard. I was glad that I really wasn't any worse than anybody else. We all laughed really hard though, because the "dogs" would be doing these silly things that they thought were what we wanted. You would wait until they did something similar to what you really wanted, and reward them. Then they would do it again. Again, you would reward them. They would then do it a third time. You don't reward them. Then they know that they have to keep trying.

Pat and Barbara said you will see this on the dog's faces...they think they think they think...they've got it!

Then they brought in the dogs. There was Kramer, who was the puppy I met at the first meeting (he's with Barbara and Randy). Then there was Lamont, who is a ten year old retired guide dog, and such a sweetie. Then there were three other dogs, all over a year old, one of them getting ready to go to "college". I got to work with Lamont.

This is Lamont. He's brilliant.

We played "touch". You get the dog's attention, hold up your hand, palm out, and say "touch". The dog touches his nose to your hand. As he does it, you say Yes, and then reward him.

No matter where you put your hand, he will find it and he will touch it with his nose. Imagine! I was so so so impressed. And all of this for a piece of plain kibble. Roxanne would have only done it for a healthy slice of lasagna.

I'm looking forward to next Wednesday; Max will be coming with me, and possibly Richard. Maybe maggie too, if she's not working. We'll see.

We'll be getting a home visit, and a trial puppy for about three days. Can't wait.

I think that the puppy is going to have a way easier time then me, Richard, Maggie and Max. We currently treat dogs like humans. We're going to have to learn to treat them like dogs. It's going to be hard!