I’ve never been good at giving a Cliff’s Notes version of anything, but since so much has happened since the last time I blogged, I’m going to try my best to summarize:
Okay, that just about brings us up to date. The main thing I wanted to talk about is the fact that Margot has now enrolled in obedience training at Petco! FINALLY! It turns out that the dog trainer, Claire, had fallen ill suddenly with some gallbladder issues, which is why it took her so long to get the classes started. After she told me that, I felt bad for being so frustrated about her not calling me, but Claire is doing fine now, and classes started three weeks ago.
There are two other dogs in Margot’s class, Sully and Zoe, who are both around Margot’s age. Sully is a beautiful, white, rambunctious, male Pit mix who is FULL of energy! Zoe is a cute Boxer female, who is probably one of the more mellow Boxers I’ve ever met. Margot was a bit anxious during her first class, as was I, because Sully kept trying to initiate playtime with Margot, and Margot would have been happy to oblige, but of course we wouldn’t allow that to happen during class. So, as a result, Margot would let out these loud barks and moans/growls, which Justin and I recognized as just sounds of frustration for her, but to everyone else, I was afraid that everyone else was mistaking Margot’s behavior as being a form of aggression towards Sully. We kept explaining to Sully’s parents and to Claire that Margot isn’t used to meeting new dogs while on her leash. She’s used to being set free at the dog park and being allowed to do the usual doggy greeting ritual of sniff-sniff-PLAY! They all seemed pretty understanding, and Claire even gave Margot, Sully, and Zoe an opportunity to interact a little more towards the end of class that day. At the following week’s class, Claire even allowed the pups to have a play break and made all of the owners leave the training area to give them room to romp and wrestle. Ironically, as soon as all of the owners left, our puppies became so concerned that they no longer wanted to play together. They just wanted us to come back!
During our second training class, Claire taught us how to train our puppies to “sit” and “lie down” by luring their noses with treats. Margot, Sully, and Zoe all knew the “sit” command already, but none of them had learned it the way Claire taught us that day, which is to hold the treat in front of their noses, and then slowly raise your hand up and over the top of the dog’s head. As the dog raises their head to follow the treat, they will naturally sit. She told us that the reason it is important to train them with this method is because, eventually, they learn to respond to the non-verbal command of simply raising your hand, even if you don’t have a treat. The same thing is true for “lie down.” To get them to perform this command, Claire had us hold the treat in front of their noses, and then we slowly lowered our hands to the ground until the dogs finally laid down to receive their treats.