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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Training Day

Lori and one of her other pupils.
It's been a few days since Pepper's let's-go-crazy-on-the-raccoon night, and he's been learning on the lead more every day. Yesterday, Karen and I took him for a walk up the driveway toward our new house site, and let him off the lead for a few minutes. He stayed within about 30 feet of us, and came back fairly well when I called him back. So, we were looking forward to today's session with our obedience trainer, Lori McCallister. Let me say this right up front. Pepper learned quite a bit; I, on the other hand, learned a LOT. Clearly, the whole point of obedience training is to train the handler to do a better job. I've got a better appreciation now for the handlers who work the dogs at the Westminster Kennel Club show. I used to think they were just geeky-looking, poorly-dressed leash yankers.Wrong.

Relaxing with Pepper after today's training

The whole training session was geared to keeping Pepper alive and with us. The two big commands we worked on were "Wait" and "Out." Lori was  operating on the information that when we let Pepper off the lead he stayed within about 30 feet of us. Using a 15-foot lead (I'm going to get a 20-footer tomorrow), we let Pepper walk on a slack lead and then gave him the "Wait" command. The point was to make him stay in place, call him back with "Come," and have him set up in front of me. We walked Pepper up and down the county road, and he did really well, though a few times I had to force myself not to go up to him after a "Wait" command.

Lori's dangerous bears
The "Out" command is intended to get the dog out of a dangerous situation, such as spotting a coyote, another dog, a raccoon outside the living room window, or a long-clawed cat. The command is given with a loud, urgent voice, accompanied - if needed - by a yank on the lead, so the dog returns to you. The goal is to have the dog break away from danger before getting into it. Since we didn't have any coyotes or raccoons in the area at the time, we used Lori's most dangerous-looking teddy bears. Actually, the little, Pooh-looking bear didn't get Pepper's attention, but the big Smokey did. Pepper set his jaw and stared at Smokey. I yelled "Out" and he came back to me so I could hold his collar. We did this a number of times, and eventually he simply started to avoid the bear, what Lori called the best learned behavior outcome. Later in the session, I used the "Out" command with our old cat, "Harry," who watched the whole thing, either bored or bemused.
Harry, nonplussed

I worked Pepper a bit on our evening walk, with a few "Waits" and "Outs." And we've started using the "Wait" command every time we let him in or out a door. But the "Out" command really worked tonight while I was starting this blog. Geordie, our long-haired tabby was on an old overturned oil drum outside the living room window, and Pepper, who hasn't yet come to terms with Geordie, jumped on the sofa under the window in a threatening manner. One loud "Out" brought him off the sofa and a "Down" put him in a supine position. A pretty good day of training, I'd say.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic! You are so right, obedience really is as much for the owner as it is for the dog! What a great day :O)