Posts Tagged ‘Obedience’

Of Household Manners class.  Her last session of this class was last week and we played some fun games before the “graduation ceremony”.

First up was “Musical Heeling” – just like musical chairs but the last dog that sits is out.

In this next picture, take note of how we were able to get the photo in mid-sit.

It’s because being the big diva that she is, she has to wiggle her butt around and fidget a little bit to make sure that she’s good and comfortable before she sits.  She starts the process immediately when I stop, but it just takes her a while to find juuuuust the right spot.  Needless to say – we didn’t win.  However, when you’re going against a group of dogs that contain breeds like Yorkies whose legs are about 2 inches long… she really didn’t have a chance.

Up next was running through some obstacles.  There was a round tunnel on the other side (no pics because they turned out blurry) and then this hoop on this side.  The tunnel was a little troublesome for Duchess because it was so short.  She blew through it in puppy class, but this time she was so much bigger, she wasn’t so sure about having to lay down and crawl through it – but she did it!  The hoop you see below wasn’t any problem…

And here she is getting her SPOTC bandana for completing the course.

And then getting her certificate of completion…

Up next will be her Canine Good Citizen (CGC) class, which will take a LOT more work than what we’ve been doing.  The puppy and household classes were very basic stuff, but the CGC is a lot more strict and there’s a test to pass at the end to get CGC certified.  After (if) she gets her CGC, then we can move on to getting certified for therapy work, or start into advanced obedience classes to train for competition.

I’m not sure if we’ll do one, both, or none of those options.  We’ll have to see how the CGC goes first.  As long as Duchess seems like she’s having fun and progressing, we’ll probably keep going.  She’s such an incredibly fast learner, it seems like it would be a shame to waste it.

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I know my last class update said it was the 4th week, but if you remember I said “4th week… I think”.  Well, I was slightly off.  It was the fifth week, which means this update is for the 6th week.  My apologies for my lack of chronological organization skills.

With this class coming near to the end, the vampire wife wanted to make sure to document how her pants look before and after attending class.  Don’t ask me why.  She’s a vampire… don’t ask questions.

This is the before.

New this week was zig zagging through cones in order to get your dog to adapt their speed to you rather than you adjusting your speed to your dog.  This was no biggie since we institute this exercise into every walk we’ve taken Duchess on.

The boy always gets worn out having to sit still for an entire hour as you can see…

Duchess was very interested in the squeaky toy she found on the floor.  All she could think about was “Om nom nom nom nom” I think.

And this requires some explanation.  A couple weekends ago the boy and I went on a father and son day out of town and his lips were extremely chapped.  Being the good father that I am, we ran in a store and I grabbed some Burt’s Bees for him to keep in his pocket.  There was this huge display of various lip balms.

Now, being a male and not there to “shop” but rather to “buy” I wanted to just grab one and go.  However, the fatherly side kicked in and I wanted to make sure I bought the best one for my son.  I read the assortment of boxes and the one that said “replenishing and moisturizing” sounded like what he needed.  I grabbed it and split.

End of story, right?  Well, we’re at class days later and he pulled out this tube and smeared it all over him with the skill of Tammy Faye Baker.  Not a problem normally… except for the fact that ummm… it’s pink.  Like really pink.  This is him laughing at the look on mine and the vampire’s face after slathering on the goo.

When did they start making lip balm that doubled as lipstick???  No one informed me of this.  Hey CNN – instead of giving me minute to minute updates on what Michelle Obama is wearing today, or what the ninnies on The View are gossiping about, how bout letting dad’s know about this dubious scheme by the lip balm companies?

Anyway, our next class will be graduation, which we’re all excited about.  Maybe we’ll put that lip balm/lipstick on Duchess for the special occasion?

Oh, and the vampire pants… here’s what they look like each week when class is over.  Duchess is quite the artist it seems.

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I think it’s week 4.  Maybe it’s week 5, but it’s technically just week 4 because we skipped a week due to snow.  I’m not really certain.  Regardless – we had class and it was this week.  That’s really all the information that we need for this blog now isn’t it?

It was mostly a review of what we’d done the previous week (which was quite a lot), so I won’t bore you with more pictures of doing the same thing as the last update.  However, we did make a new friend this week.  Meet Gus.

Gus is the doberman.  Not my boy on the right.  Gus is an absolutely beautiful doberman owned by our class instructors.  He’s got a long line of titles and initials behind his name and is a therapy dog as well.  Doesn’t he look striking and macho?

Well, that changed a little while later when he got a manicure in front of the whole class.

Hahaha just look at his poor face!  He just hung his head as if to say, “Awww mom!  Don’t do my nails in front of all these other doggies!”  Dana was showing us how to use a Dremel tool to work on your dog’s nails as opposed to clipping them. (Ugh – that just reminds me that I was going to look at Dremels yesterday and I forgot.)

This was the point where Duchess said, “I give you big kisses if you never do that to me.”

Something new this week was heeling at different paces – slow, normal, and fast.  To get a Great Dane to move “fast” that means the Great Dane’s human has to haul some serious bootay.  Getting me to move that fast meant that half of the contents of the treat pouch went flying all over the training room.  My instructor was nice enough to gather them for me.

And the recall exercise went much better this week as well.

While other people were doing the recall exercise, I noticed that the boy was VERY intent on what was going on and that his ribs were perfectly exposed for a good jabbing.  I slowly moved my hand under my arm and moved in to the perfect position to deliver a good poke right between the ribs.

I let it fly… just at the very moment that the entire room – all 20 something people and 20 something dogs all got silent.  The boy let out a squeal that would rival any 12 year old girl at a Hilary Duff concert.  Also, the frequency of that squeal must have matched the resonant frequency and acoustics of that room to a T because it was amplified by about a bazillion.

People jumped.  People gasped.  People freaked.  Dogs peed themselves.  In other words – It. Was. Hilarious.

The boy was uber embarrassed, but he was laughing too hard to even care.  About ten minutes later when we all got back on the floor for another exercise, he was STILL giggling about it.

So what did we learn this week?  Dobermans have tough exteriors, but in their spare time enjoy pedicures, spa trips, and antiquing.  We learned not to run fast with an open treat pouch.  Most importantly, I learned that there’s a spot between the 3rd and 4th rib on the right side of the boy that can make him squeal like one of those mindless Twilight girls.

However, with great power comes great responsibility, which means that I’m to not use that last bit of knowledge again.  Unless of course it’s going to be wicked hilarious.

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Another Class Update…

I apologize profusely if you find these obedience class updates to be about as entertaining as watching Real Housewives of Any Rural Midwest Town, ( on this week’s episode – Sarah goes to Wal-Mart to find that they moved her favorite snack food… AGAIN) but please keep in mind that this blog is not just about you readers (*gasp*) but is also meant to be a journal that we can look back on as the years progress.  Obedience is a daily routine with us and the commitment to going to a weekly obedience class an hour away is a pretty big chunk of time for a time-stretched family such as ours… so of course it’s going to have its fair share in this blog.

Now with my obligatory apology out of the way, let’s get on to Duchess’ last class.

She never has been one to get excited in the truck when she travels.  Unlike Dottie who would stand at attention the entire time, staring out the window as if she had just opened her eyes to a whole new world – Duchess prefers the much more laid back approach… like laying down and resting her head on the console.

Once we got to class, we began working on a distance recall where you get your dog to come to you, front and center, then sit.

In this first picture, I think if you put a priest’s robe on me and put a crucifix where the leash is, it would appear as if I’m performing an exorcism on Duchess.

She didn’t do so well at that.  Like I’ve said before, she’s a huge chicken… so working with a new long-line on her and the trainer holding her collar sent her into a near panic.

I think the whole obedience school thing is way less fun than playing Wii or Legos, as demonstrated here by my boy in between taking turns on the floor.

Then we walked the perimeter of the room taking various instructions from the trainers about heeling, turns, sitting automatically when we stop, etc.  Duchess has this part down pat.

Followed by some various stay exercises… again, this part she’s got solid.

This next one got a little squirrely… having to stay while the trainer walked around her.  She did great on the first round, but got a bit wiggly on the second one.  Still did okay, but not perfect.

And this next part was a complete failure… getting her to stand on command.  I’ve spent her whole life teaching her to sit, demanding she do it automatically when I stop walking etc. and now I’m asking her to stand.  This is going to take some work because the whole time she kept looking at me like I was whipping her – or making her watch something horrid like “Julie & Julia”.

And after seeing that last pic, I’ve decided that I’ll go back to wearing my boots to class.  I almost bit it hardcore while trying to run backwards last week with her while wearing my boots, so I thought I’d wear my old tennis shoes this time so I didn’t wind up demonstrating how to perform a reverse somersault to the class.  However, these Nikes apparently have reflective stripes on them that I was unaware of which makes the flash go KAPOW.

Either that, or they’re radioactive.  I’m hoping for radioactivity.  Radioactive shoes could really drive my readership up instead of these “oh look what my baby did at school” posts.

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Last week’s class…

Things went well this week in class.  Of course it snowed.  It always snows one day a week, on the day that we have to travel to class.  It never fails.  Luckily the roads were okay this time so it wasn’t a big deal… EXCEPT for the massive amount of idiots on the interstate.  Does ANYONE use their cruise control anymore?  Sheesh – I digress.

We got there a few minutes early and after visiting with the instructors for a few, Duchess decided to express her discontent at their lack of doggie beds for seating and decided my lap was appropriate.  Not to climb all the way in it, just to park her behind on my lap because it was comfy.

After rousing her form her comfy chair, we worked on heeling.  I like how her jowls are flopping in this picture.

Followed by sitting automatically when we stop.

And more work this week on staying, which she’s great at.

And polite manners when meeting strangers.

It’s always important to keep it fun for the dog and give lots of praise.  I know this pic is blurry, but it’s such a great moment when your dog is so happy because they are proud of doing something right.

Of course she drooled like she always does at class.  This pic is grainy but I blew it way up so you could see the strings of goo protruding form her jowls.  My instructor said, “If that’s the biggest problem you have, then you’re doing just fine.”

She had a good drool fountain going this week and pretty much soaked the hanky… as well as my jeans, fleece, hands, etc.

I love this picture.  That face just screams, “DAAAAAAAAAAAAAD!!!”

Overall it went really well and Duchess is still progressing nicely.  We have some work to do on the “automatic sit” when we stop… she wants to swing around out of heel position a little bit, but it shouldn’t be too hard to correct with just a little effort.

However, I think the only thing Duchess is concerned about for the next meeting is that we bring her doggie bed so that she’s comfortable.

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Star of the class…

Well, at least I think she is.  The star of the obedience class that is.  Then again, I’m usually too occupied with wiping her drool to pay attention to what the other dogs are doing.  Here we are in the truck on the way to school.  Don’t let the cute face fool you – it’s a ploy to try and work her way into the front seat.

We braved the winter weather this week to make the hour drive to go to the 2nd week of household manners class, and if I might say, Duchess did spectacular.  It’s really nothing special I don’t think – it’s just a fact of biology as far as I’m concerned.  I mean, she’s a Great Dane.  Her brain is the size of the entire body of a lot of dogs!

We got there a little early so we made a run through Petsmart to see if there was anything Duchess found to her liking.  Of course, she’s “above” letting anyone know that she would accept anything from a run-of-the-mill mega store.  As you can see in this picture, she turned her nose up at everything she saw.

So then it was off to the in-laws’ house for a quick dinner and potty break before class.  However, Duchess absolutely REFUSES to use the bathroom in their backyard.  Their neighborhood is full of insecure, anxious dogs in backyards that bark non-stop when you go outside.  She finds this to be very off putting when trying to find the perfect spot to do her bidness.  *sigh*  Such a diva.

So with crossed fingers, hoping that she didn’t drop 3 gallons of pee at the training facility, we went off to class.  We worked on some heeling while walking in an oval.

In between rounds of walking, Duchess gets bored.  Her mind starts to wander and here she’s wishing she could get back to Mommy and Mimi so she can drool on their dress clothes (there’s a giant pile of clothes ready to be taken to the cleaners now).

Sorry the pics aren’t of great quality.  It’s really dark in there and this little point and shoot camera doesn’t have the 1.21 jiggawatts of flash needed to light this far out.

She did really well at the walking and heeling, but that’s the way we’ve trained her from day one.  We don’t need a 100+ pound dog that doesn’t know how to walk on a leash politely.  Unless of course we were racing in the Iditarod or something… then I guess that might come in handy.

We also worked on down and stay, which she’s solid at because in order to get her meals (3 times a day) she has to go into a down/stay while we prepare her food and wait for release before she can eat.

Recall (getting the dog to come to you when called) was next, which she did fine at also.  This part she can be a little dodgy on at the house depending on what she’s interested in outside – a stick, pecan, apricot pit, piece of trash, discarded nuclear waste, etc.  We’re working on this.

The only problem we have at class is that Duchess turns into the BIGGEST chicken!  She’s a lot better now and has shown great improvement thankfully.  She no longer tries to hide under your chair (that’s quite a site to see a Great Dane trying to back under a folding chair) or hide behind you, but she has a little bit of an issue that is still lingering.

Drool.  Lots and lots of drool.  It’s a nervous habit that she has (and thank goodness this only happens at class) and I learned early on to put a handkerchief in my back pocket when we attend.  I’ll be paying attention to the teacher, listening to what she’s telling us to do, then look down to find these foot long strings of slime hanging from Duchess’ jowls.

This is me putting the handkerchief back in my pocket while Duchess looks at her mommy with a face that says, “I’m sorry.  I know it’s really, really gross.  I can’t help it.”

I tried to get a picture of the Ever-flowing Fountain of Goo, but every time I’d get a chance, she’d sling her ropes of glop onto some unsuspecting onlooker (or herself).  However, one tiny leftover bit found its way on to my wife’s knee.  These are some of the pants in the pile to go to the cleaners.

Yeah, have I mentioned before you have to have a really, really good sense of humor if you are a Great Dane owner?  A lot of wives would’ve squealed and jumped around like Paris Hilton after finding out she was being served tap water.  Luckily, I’ve got a wife that finds this disgusting freako nervous habit just as funny as I do.

At least she thinks it’s funny for now.  Duchess is only 8 months old after all.

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Obedience is essential…

I’m going to make an effort to make a serious post for the first time *ooooooh*  *aaaaaaaaawe*  Yes, I know.  Pretty spectacular eh?  Just sit there for a minute and let it sink in.  Okay, now that’s over with let’s move on.

We are of the belief that obedience training is essential for every single dog and their owner.  With a giant breed, it’ not just essential but should be mandatory.  An out of control chihuahua can be a handful, but a 100+ pound dog that behaves like a ticked off bee tied on the end of a string is downright dangerous.

We’ve been in Petsmart many times and seen people with Rottweilers, Mastiffs, etc. that are barking incessantly and lunging at any and every thing that is within a 10 yard radius. Not only is that a potentially dangerous situation, but it reflects poorly on the owners of large breeds as a whole.

I could go on and on about responsible pet ownership, get on my soapbox, and blah blah blah… but that’s not where I’m going with this, so please keep reading.

How many people do you know that got a puppy, it lived in the house for a short time, then got booted outside because it “just wouldn’t behave”.  I’ll go make a sandwich while you tally it up.  It’s somewhere around a bazillion, right?  It’s really cliche, but we believe that the problems don’t lie within the dog, they’re within the human.

It’s not our fault – puppies don’t come with instruction manuals, and we don’t have a pack instinct that automatically kicks in to tell us what to do.  We have to work at it.  We have to learn how to communicate effectively with our pets.  One of Cesar Millan’s famous lines is, “I rehabilitate dogs – I train people.”  There’s a LOT to think about in those six words.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I don’t believe that dogs should be our robots that power up, power down, never get to have fun, and are at our beck and call 24/7.  On the contrary, I believe they thrive within a pack setting where they know specific boundaries and what is expected of them, while still being able to have all their doggie fun.

Duchess is our second dog to go through obedience classes (Oliver the Anti-Social corgi was the first), and I’ll never have another dog that doesn’t go through at least two classes.  The classes give you a chance to really establish a pack leader bond with your pet and the rewards carry on throughout the rest of their (much too short) lives.

And even more importantly – it’s NEVER too late to start basic obedience training.  Whether your dog is 5 months old or 5 years old, they still are looking to you for leadership and to know what it is they need to do in order to be a member of your pack.

I urge you to find the nearest obedience training club (not a class taught at a mega-store… but the real deal Holyfield where classes are taught by people that have competed in competitions) and take your pet through a class.  They’re usually only 6-8 weeks long, which is a very, very small investment to make in the life of your companion.

So, if you have a new puppy – get to cracking and get signed up.  Even more importantly (in my opinion), if you have a dog that’s been banished to the backyard and only gets seen when they get fed, puhleeeeze make a commitment to do what it takes to get them back to being a close member of your family.

I’m not saying that after your first class that you’ll have a perfect dog that isn’t going to do anything wrong.  That probably won’t happen.  Think about it – don’t you have bad days where you screw up?  Your dog will too.  Just laugh it off and keep on working at it.

When you brought that little furball home, you made a pledge to take care of it in the best way possible.  Much like humans, some dogs just take a little more care than others so don’t get discouraged!

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