So, after the spectacular fail that was scent work I had high hopes for Maggie’s tricks class. And I am so happy to say that it’s a success. After the second week we already have 5 tricks that will qualify for our title. Now, it’s nothing that will shock or inspire… but hey a trick is a trick! She can crawl, put 2 paws on a box, spin (we’re still working on that one) puppy pushups, hand signal sit, and jump over a jump. There are other things we are working on too, but those will get us some letters behind her name. It helps a lot that in novice you can lure with treats. They’re almost making it too easy.

I love the instructor for this class. She’s young and still likes people and dogs. She’s patient with us when Maggie is hesitant and reluctant to offer behaviors. She’s new at instructing the classes, but I would take her any day. She’s great! That’s in contrast to Willow’s beginner obedience instructor, who I think is teaching this class to give her a valid excuse to insult people. I’ve been trying to compose an update to that class, but every time it gets to two pages single spaced I put it away for editing - no one wants to read that!

I took the opportunity before class started to do a little obedience work with Maggie and you guys, she looks really good. We even did a little bit of off leash healing. She lags a little bit, but she has good attention and she stays right with me. We’ll get there.

The other thing I wanted to comment on is her eye contact. It’s amazing. This is the same dog who didn’t want to be in the same room with me. She sits at my side and she watches me like I’m the best thing since bacon. That trust. The feeling is kind of overwhelming. I’ve said it before, I wasn’t sure we would get there. There were times when I secretly wondered why I was being punished for the next 15 years with a dog who hated me. But she’s my girl, and I’m her person. I’m not sure there’s a better feeling than earning that trust and being judged worthy. I’m just so proud of Maggie and what she’s overcome. She’s a living example of never give up. Maybe it’s weird, but I find myself inspired by my dog.

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  • I find myself inspired by you and your dog, too! 

    You have every reason to be proud. You've done a great job earning Maggie's love and trust, and the best thing about that is, this is just the beginning. Go team! 

    • That is the best thing. We're not at a point where she can't continue to gain confidence. She has a whole lifetime of good experiences to look forward to. My papillon, Olivia was also a very timid girl - the difference was that I never asked her to do anything except sit on the couch. In hindsight, even though she was small she would have benefited from training like this. But even with her, she grew out of a lot of her bad beginnings over time. In the end she was even kind of bossy.

  • Oh, and lagging is much easier to correct than being too far ahead on the heels. I'd take that any day over the dog who is just the tiniest bit too far forward and angled in, not to mention any names. I knew I was going to step on his foot any day, and of course it happened in class. :(

    • Poor Jasper. I'm not going to lie. I step on their feet all the time. I try not to, but darn it, if they would just stay on their side it wouldn't happen. I always apologize, but they never even act like they notice. 

      Maggie is the nicest leash walking dog I've ever had. Willow is doing amazingly well for a 7 month old puppy too. Katie... I take her to the off leash park! I've learned a lot since she was a baby and I acted like she was too young to learn to behave for the first 2 years of her life.

    • This is exactly what I'm dealing with now with the puppy Zeke.  I'm finding it hard to walk, because I have to constantly look at my feet.  The slightest distraction like a dog barking or piece of paper on the sidewalk, &  I almost land face first on the ground trying to miss him!  I shouldn't complain - he's doing very well for a 12 week old.  I'll be glad when he's had all his shots and we can get out and about more.  

  • I would really like to get some titles on Maggie. Part of the hesitation is my work schedule, but part of it is also that I'm terrified to get out there and look like an idiot. I need to take a lesson from Maggie and be brave. And know that probably everyone has looked like an idiot at some point. But no one wants to be the person whose dog poops in the ring. I still think Rally might be the place to start. I struggle with not being able to talk to her in the ring. She really responds to praise. 

    • I'm struggling with not being able to give treats in the ring, lol. Jasper will stand on his head for a treat, but he's not big on doing anything just to please me. The "What's In It For Me?" Miniature Poodle mentality is strong with this one, lol. 

      • I was listening to a podcast last night about timing and training a bridge word to indicate "your treat is coming, just not yet." It sounds like clicker training to me, only with a Yes or Good instead of the click. Maybe that would help him learn that he has to do it without the treat in the ring, but the treats show up as soon as you're finished. I'm probably not telling you anything you don't know here. 

        I've been listening to some really interesting dog training podcasts lately. Even the ones I don't totally agree with give me something to think about. They range from really pure positive to the e-collar guy. Last night I found one that was more balanced. You use positive reinforcement to teach them what to do, but sometimes you have to be able to teach them what not to do too, and that's what he says pure positive is missing. There are a lot of different training philosophies out there. It almost makes me want to go back and take some psychology classes.

        • I so agree that "pure positive" training is missing the ability to teach them what not to do. 

          We have always used the "yes" as a verbal clicker, but with treats, too. "Yes" and treat. To the point that now, whenever I say "yes!" to Jasper under any circumstance, for any reason, he looks at my left hand. :( 

          I will have to figure out a way to let him know a treat is coming when he's finished. That would be great. 

          • We tried the Sophia Yin method of just positive reinforcement... it is not enough for Riley lol.  We often tell her "no" or "leave it" before she gets into something when we can tell she is about to be naughty.  Sometimes it works, sometimes the little stinker looks at us and does it anyway.  She just isnt motivated enough by treats for the rewards only.

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