Doggie Academia: Week 1 Recap

Just got back from Week 1 of doggie manners class. Most of the things they talked about we knew, whether we were actually doing it or not, but there were a couple of things I learned.

All of the students in the class introduced themselves and talked about their dogs. We heard a lot of the same issues from other pet parents, so we all shared a few laughs and some “I’ve Been There” nods.

One of the things I learned is that there is no such thing as an “alpha dog.” The original study on which the theory was formed was built on a faulty premise that wolves live in randomly assembled packs. In actuality, the wolves live in nuclear families and, much like humans, the children naturally follow the mother and father. Based on that, dogs should not be training using dominance, but rather using positive reinforcement when they perform the desired behavior.

This class uses the clickers as a means to train. When a dog performs the requested behavior you click and immediately give the dog a treat. Josh and I practiced with Mara a little bit after class and she seems to respond pretty well and has picked up the routine pretty quickly.

I am excited for next week where we actually get to bring Mara.

-AB

Doggie Academia

So for those of you who don’t know me, my boyfriend and I have a sweet 8 month old puppy named Mara.

Mara German Shepherd Lab Mix

She is mommy’s little snuggle bug and daddy’s little hell raiser. She knows most of her basic commands, but can afford some more training beyond Josh and I’s expertise. I signed her up for doggie manners classes which starts tonight. They run weekly for 6 weeks, and by the end are promising a more well behaved pup.

I have grown up with dogs my whole life, but Josh has mostly grown up with cats. I’d like to think that the classes are actually for the two of them. Mara usually listens to me pretty well, but Josh…well…not so much. She will listen on occasion but prefers to see him as a squeaky toy. Since he likes to wrestle her and play rough she doesn’t quite see him as an authority figure. It is obvious that mommy is the alpha dog in the house (duh!) and daddy is optional to listen too unless he has treats. Her biggest issues are the playful nipping and jumping on people. She is a total mush and loves everyone, so aggression is never an issue, she just doesn’t know when enough is enough and that nipping and jumpping are not acceptable.

If you didn’t already know, I am the local coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a organization that helps our service members with their pets. I take Mara to a lot of events as a representative of DoD. She is usually always well behaved and enjoys the attention more than anything. She already receives a lot of compliments for how well behaved she is for such a young pup, but I would like her to be even better. Seeing as how I attend a lot of pet events I often find myself in the company of other dogs. This is where 90% of her obedience goes out the window and she no longer listens. He is very excited and just wants to play.

Tonight’s class will be an orientation for the pet owners, so humans only. Next week will be Mara’s first class. It should be pretty interesting to see how well she learns with all of the distractions of other dogs. I’ll be sure to post an update later on how it goes.

-AB