We had our second lesson Sunday night, and a couple new dogs as well. The Yorkie moved to a different class, and we had a tiny, white, fluffy pup in (because the owners forgot their class was at 5:00, not 6:00) and a Golden Retriever who had more energy than all of the dogs combined I think.
We started off working on controlled walking again, and our instructor gave us two corrections to use: one for leash pulling, and one for if the dog came out of a sit without being told. One of the hardest things I’m learning is that we’re not supposed to give our commands more than once. I feel like I do this better at home, but when we’re in public, I tend to get nervous or want to rush through things with Ginger, so I repeat myself multiple times.
Next, we worked on sit and greets. What we were going to do was line up, three dogs on each side, walk forward until we were four feet apart, have our dogs sit, and begin teaching them to pay attention to us, not the dogs or people across from us. We were to do this a couple times, then we would add in shaking the person’s hand across from us, then finally, we would ask to pet the other person’s dog. Our dogs were to stay in a sit the entire time, whether we were moving out in front of them to greet the other person or dog, or if the other person was going to pet them. This is where I got nervous because Ginger is still very much a jumper when it comes to people greeting her, so before we lined up, I raised my hand and expressed my concern.
The teacher came over to test Ginger out, to see the jumping I referred to. Ginger, true to form, got all excited and immediately jumped up, to which I pulled back on the leash to keep her off. Teacher then told me to leave the leash loose and she would show me how to handle the problem. As soon as Ginger’s paws left the ground, teacher moved backwards and sharply said “OFF!” and as soon as Ginger’s feet were back on the ground, teacher said “Good puppy!”. Two more times of this, and Ginger made no further moves to jump on her to which teacher said “Now, that’s a smart dog” and I was very proud.
Seeing this in action helped solidify a point that had been made in the book I read about positive reinforcement. By not allowing her to physically touch the person, she had taken away the “prize” or gratification of the jumping, and by rewarding her for paws on the ground, she had shown Ginger what was going to give her a reward. I can’t wait to begin using this with my friends and continuing her training. The teacher said she had probably been taught at a young age to jump up and give “ten” or something like that, because she wasn’t doing it in an aggressive manner.
As we began doing our sit and greets, I couldn’t believe how well Ginger did! She only came out of her sit a couple of times, and she paid most of her attention to me, never staring at the other dogs.
Finally, we worked on our “come” commands so our teacher could determine if we were ready to move on to long-lines. Apparently, we were! So, on came the 20 foot rope lines and I thought to myself, how on earth are 6 people going to control their 6 dogs on 20 foot lines in this 30 foot room?! Of course, teacher knows best. She had us all come in a circle around her then turn 180 degrees so we all faced out, thereby giving each of us our own 8-10 foot space to throw treats and practice recall. Genius! And that’s what we did for the last ten minutes was throw treats out and call the pups back. I never had to pull Ginger in as she always came bounding back to me for another treat.
This lesson definitely went better than the first, and I’m excited to head back for our third this week. It was great getting some one-on-one attention with Ginger, and knowing that she can learn, and is learning. I just have to keep my end of the bargain and keep practicing with her.