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So, Maggie and I didn't get the memo that our Novice obedience class was going to be full of dogs who know what they're doing and that they're totally going to show us up! I think we need remedial novice. Some of those dogs have real titles already.  She said, stand your dog for exam, and I'm like uh, what? And then it was, "hold the leash like this and hold the treat like that and put it right here..." And I'm thinking, people I'm going to need at least 2 more hands to do all these things at the same time. Especially if I'm not supposed to trip over the dog too. Coordination is hard, and those ballet classes did not help. Sorry, mom. 

Needless to say, we have homework. I'm supposed to teach Maggie to stand. We need work on our long sits and downs (3 minutes feels like eternity to me too.) Our figure 8's need some work. Ok, everything needs some work. But she's having fun and that's why we're doing it. I just secretly want her to be the best. I have to remind myself that 2 sets of classes ago she didn't even know how to sit. She should get an award for most improved. We like awards.

There is this Belgian Malinois in our class (I thought he was a mutt at first, and I kept looking at him and couldn't figure out why he still had his boy bits, when I realized he was a Malinois.) He seems like a nice dog, but so intense. His focus was incredible. It looked like he was saying, "awaiting my next command master." I've always wondered what it would be like to have a dog that was so high energy and scary smart - a malinois or a border collie or something. I think it would be a poor choice for me, but, I would kind of like to try it out for a couple days just to see what it felt like. 

In summary - tonight was a lesson in all the things I really kind of thought we already knew. Canine Good Citizen is as far in obedience as I've ever gotten with any dog. Now I know that there is so much more out there that we can learn and do.

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I am so impressed with how much Maggie does, and does well. You two have developed a wonderful bond.

Novice Week #5 - I love dog training! I don’t know why we haven’t been doing this forever, except to say that it took this long to find the right place. I see improvement in Maggie every week. This week she heeled totally off leash, and while she definitely wasn’t perfect, she stayed right with me. I was impressed. Her recalls were good. She sits a little crooked, sometimes doesn’t come in quite close enough, but she stayed and waited to be called. Then on the “get your leash” portion, where she sits, I retrieve her leash and walk back to her she sat right where I put her and waited for me like a big girl, even with all the other dogs sitting around her. I am a proud momma. That’s the first time we’ve gotten that one on the first try.

Stand for exam is still hard. Stand is weird, and strange people examining her is a real challenge, but she’s so brave. Our finishes are a work in progress. She kind of gets it, but we need more practice.

We should probably be taking this class again next time, but Rally Skills fit into my schedule better, so we’re going to do that. And really I want to do Beginner Novice. That one only has a sit for exam, and I don’t think they have off leash heeling. I think after a session on that one she would be close to ready to try for that title.

In general life news Maggie still pulls on walks. She never pulls in the training facility. She walks with me beautifully. But outside distractions are hard. She’s not awful. If I stop walking she comes right back to me. But when we start again she walks out to the end of the leash and pulls. I know the tricks, and they work. But at the same time if I stop every four feet we never get anywhere, so the instructor thought maybe try the gentle leader head harness just on walks. I think we’ll give it a shot. I don’t think she needs to heel the whole walk. And I’m perfectly happy for her to stop and sniff anything she wants, but the pulling. It’s no fun to be drug down the street. And really she stops after about 2.5 miles. But that’s a long 2.5 miles!

I feel so lucky to have Maggie in my life. She’s pretty much the perfect dog (get her to sleep in my bed and we’ll officially call her perfect.)

Novice week #6 - For the last class of the session we had a mock obedience trial. We all got armbands and got to go through all of the exercises individually. We were last, which was good because I had never seen an obedience trial before. I watched everyone going through it and thought, we're going to do great. She knows all of these things. We've practiced. Then we were terrible!!! But let me go back and tell you all the mistakes I made that day to contribute to our awful-ness. 

First Maggie woke up with diarrhea. She had an accident in the house that I feel so guilty about. She was barking and barking at me and I could not figure out what she wanted. She was trying to tell me and I didn't understand. I was afraid I broke her potty training forever, but she seems okay. I started probiotics and a little pumpkin (it was all I had) and she is fine now, but I should have listened to my gut instinct and kept her home. 

Then I took her to be groomed. We waited more than a month for that appointment, and I really couldn't cancel. She needed that haircut desperately. And she seemed fine. She was fine, but it took 4 hours to cut her hair. 4 hours! That's a lot of stress for a girl, especially when she already wasn't feeling her best. 

Then since we were last we sat and waited for our turn for nearly an hour. We went into the ring and she was all sorts of distracted. But I still took her off leash to do the off leash heeling. And she, for the first time ever, decided to go for a run-about. She would not come back. I was trying to catch her and next thing I know she's starting to squat in the ring. *dies of embarrassment* I am happy to say that I got her back on leash and outside before she pooped in the building. Of course, being on leash turns off her gotta potty button and it took forever to convince her to do her thing so we could go back and finish. 

She actually did okay once we got back inside. She stood for exam and that was the one thing I thought she wouldn't do. We got a certificate. We didn't get kicked out of the club. We didn't even actually poop on the floor. But I do take the blame for what didn't go right. I set us up for failure that day. Still, we had a good time. We learned a lot.

Next up: Rally Skills. Then we're going to take a break from classes over the holidays, but we're going to start next year with something. I think we're almost ready to compete in Beginner Novice. There isn't any off leash heeling and there's only a sit for exam. Maggie wants another title!

"Aw mom...I'm sick and don't want to go to school today!"  "But you have a test - get your butt moving!"  "See I told you mom."    

Congratulations on succeeding through on such a tough day Maggie!  You & your mom deserve a break!

Have you thought about a Trick Dog title? Jasper's breeder just put a Novice Trick Dog title on a 7 month old puppy. Super fun, and it looks pretty easy. If the dog already has her CGC, you only need 5 tricks from the list for the Novice title. Otherwise, it's 10. 
https://www.akc.org/sports/trick-dog/

Yes! We want to take the tricks class, but I messed up. We should have taken it this session. They aren't offering it in the next group of sessions and the one after that is on a Monday. I'm required to work 2/6 Mondays so we can't take a class on that day. So I'm going to have to wait until next year to find a class that will work. But that was the class before Novice and it looked like they were having fun! 

In other good news, just in the last couple days Maggie has started coming up on the couch to sit with me some and jumping up on the bed to visit - she stays as long as I'm petting her. If I try to go to sleep she leaves, but it's progress! 

Picco will come up in the bed when we take naps or first thing in the morning. He's not allowed at bedtime.  He doesn't stay long either.  I think they get too hot or if you start moving around they skedaddle!

Clancy has had some diarrhea problems lately, and while we didn’t have an accident before I figured it out, it was close. I understand that it’s pretty common for novice dogs to have a poo accident in the ring. Embarrassing for you if it happens though. Really, you and Maggie have come so far.  She might end up a snuggle bug yet. 

I'm still secretly hoping for a snuggle dog, but I have stopped obsessing over it and now I just enjoy it when it happens. It's much healthier for both of us that way. I refuse to buy her a dog bed though. She can sleep on the carpet or any piece of furniture in the house. I'm not encouraging her to sleep farther from me. 

The difference in her is really incredible. If you had told me 7 months ago this is who she would be I wouldn't have believed you. All we needed was some time, trust, and training. I was always committed to her, but I could not see us ever being at this point. And her sweet personality is still developing all the time. She's a wonderful girl, and we are a great team.

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