Wednesday, March 7, 2018

☸️ We completed our first training class together

A white Labrador retriever asleep by the front door

Tuesday marked the final session of Bodhi’s first obedience training class. Probably just as well I’d forgotten that instructors like to test how well each dog and owner have taken to the training: I had no apprehension.

We took a nice walk from our shop on South 5th Street to Hungry Like the Woof, arriving just in time to be the first in the door, and were quickly followed by two more dogs and their people. We had a few minutes to get our things arranged and go through a few behaviors before Sally called the class to order.

After a quick greeting, we began the session with “loose leash walking,” or what you could call a relaxed heel. Bodhi stuck right with me throughout. He checked in, making eye contact frequently. He stopped when I stopped. He reversed when I did. Success. We returned to our seats.

Next, it was time to demonstrate a behavior we had to come up with on our own. It could have been giving a paw on command, for example, or sitting up prairie dog-style.

Kelly and I insist on toweling off our dogs when they come in from wet weather, so teaching Bodhi to roll over on his back for drying his belly is useful. That was our trick for the class.

I usually teach it by saying, “Over” and begin drying. Eventually the behavior is learned. We had only about two weeks to learn it, though, and he had to demonstrate what is a vulnerable posture with other dogs present.

He wasn’t going for it at first, but the instructor suggested perhaps he didn’t want to roll over on his harness. Off it came. After a little more coaxing and a rub with a towel, over he went. Bodhi’s cue for this is “belly-belly.”

We moved on to four rounds of pick-a-card. On each card was a behavior we were to demonstrate. This part of the class went by quickly—there were only three dogs remaining from the original seven—and as close as I can recall ours were “make eye contact,” “touch nose to a target on the floor,” “do a series of down-sit-down-sit,” and “sit for meet-and-greet.”

You’d be surprised at how little interest a distracted dog has in his owner when there’s something grabbing his attention. Bodhi, however, is usually good at making eye contact. He was looking at Sally when it was our turn, so I just said his name. He looked right back at me making eye contact, and we were done.

Targeting involves placing an object on the floor a few feet away and cueing your dog to “target” by touching his nose to it. Bodhi had tried and succeeded at this in week two using food container lids, but he didn’t like the instructor-provided Easy Button in class. It had talked back to him saying, “that was easy!” He remembered that yesterday. He barked at the Button after three or four verbal cues, letting me know he didn’t like it.

I dropped the white instruction card on the floor a few feet away, pointed at it, and said, “Bodhi, target. Target.” He bounded over and touched his nose to it.

I score that a success.

Sally asked whether he’d been scared by the Button the last time, so perhaps he got credit for diverting to the second target.

Bodhi loves doing what Sally refers to as “puppy push-ups,” first laying down, then rising to a sit, then repeating the two again each on cue.

Last night he breezed right through.

The meet and greet is sometimes difficult for Bodhi—he doesn’t like a hand coming in over his head—but he was fine with a hand coming alongside his face and then up over his head yesterday. I think he’d take more readily to this behavior if we had more strangers to practice on.

After four rounds we were done. I was very proud of my pal. He did great. He even had his graduation picture taken. I’ll post it if I get a copy.

We get a week off before beginning our next class together, which may lead to a CGC certification. At the very least we’ll continue working on behaviors, especially walking on the leash.

This is the point where I called Zele and Stella’s training complete, but I’m curious to see how well Bodhi takes to further instruction. He’s a smart boy, and we had fun together, so why not?

He was so zonked by the time I got him home.

#LabradorRetriever #Bodhi #training #goodBoy