Monday, November 12

Doggie Pleasures

I think I've mentioned that Johnders and I went to puppy class. We went 5 of 6 weeks to a class about an hour from our home (we got a deal although the gas cost probably blew the differential). I will say that these trainers know what they are talking about but their methods are a little archaic and even brutal for my taste. They advocate pinch collars and a knee to the chest (for jumping dogs), I didn't like that but I did get a lot out of the class. Of course, I have checked out almost all the puppy training books I could find at the library too. As I see it dog training, much like any relationship, is about respect and communication. The trainer has to respect the dog's nature and the dog has to respect the trainer's commands. To gain respect the trainer has to learn how to read the dog and the trainer must communicate clearly and efficiently. The bottom line is consistency with commands and fair expectations. We have to remember that we are teaching the dog a 2nd language, a language they can only respond to. They can't speak it. The popular school of thought (these concepts probably change with the wind) is positivity. The more the dog recognizes what you want the better he will perform. This also means, as one book says, the trainer must set the dog up to succeed.

Johnders is extremely smart. Actually, it amazes me. Having never had a puppt to watch the growth and learning. He is inquisitive and learns quickly. He is also hard-headed, and therein lies the biggest problem. We - owners - are working to help dogs control there impulses, their natural urges which most humans don't believe they can if they aren't given an alternative and that's what I want to do with Johnders. It's hard. I have to make doing what I want so exciting and rewarding that he always wants to do that.

His basic issue is excitement. It is hard for him to get calm. The way that manifests itself is jumping combined with some biting/mouthing. Its a daily stuggle to get him to stop his game of tug and let me go on my way. I walk away he jumps up and grabs my shirt. I see him do the same thing with dogs. He bugs them and keeps bugging them until somebody (another dog or an owner) pulls the dogs apart. He's not hurting anybody he just doesn't understand that No means No. That's really the only behavioral issue. I have to figure out some things to keep him occupied; just like bored people he turns to unproductive, even destructive behavior. We try to take him to the park, both walking with us and dog park, a couple of times a week. I try to teach him new tricks and of course, there is the Kong, which seems to be the only widely available cerebral toy for dogs. It is simple but it works really well. Sometimes I jump ahead. I think he knows something really well but he gets in a new environment and loses control. The trainer saw that and said something to the affect of "he knows everything you are asking him to do, he's testing you" like a toddler or a teenager. I think he pushes buttons too. He knows what pisses me off and he decides to do it. We keep trying and he keeps testing.

If anybody knows any tips and tricks let me know.
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