'Not only is punishment risky, but it also fails to teach the dog an acceptable alternate behaviour. The dog does not learn what to do the next time he is in the same situation. He only learns to fear the situation.' Emma Parsons, Click to Calm p73

Monday, 6 December 2010

Puppy Training Class #1.

Okay, so technically this was class two of ten, but I didn't go to the first one--wasn't signed up!--and this was the first week the dogs all met anyway. So I dub this to be class numero uno.

We didn't do much of anything: mostly introductions and 'how to deal with...' basics. As well as Lola (the youngest of the group by far!), there's a Springer Spaniel (Molly--I think she's 14 weeks), a Bedlington Terrier (called Lennox), a Tibetan Terrier (I think called Alfie), a Welsh Springer Spaniel (Cerys?) and a Daschund who's name I didn't get, but who is the oldest of the group.

First up, introductions. Most of the people there oohed and aahed over Lola and her incredible cuteness. She was seriously dwarfed by the other dogs, but didn't seem that bothered--just a little timid and cautious at first, but she livened up really quickly. The main instructor led us through 'how to teach your dog to sit/lie down', and then had us try. I knew Lola wouldn't be able to 'down'--she's still getting it at home, without distractions apart from J--but she surprised me by sitting quite readily, once a little slice of ham was by her nose.

Of course, it's also possible she wasn't that keen because she felt unwell. She'd been sick in the car (on my knee--thanks, girl!) and again about five minutes into us being there. There was a LOT of pink bits in there--I think she might have been swallowing bits of J's toys, that I confiscated yesterday. Urgh, puppies.

After the sit/down (with only a few dogs really getting it - iirc, the only ones that laid down were Molly and the daschund), the trainer ran through some common problems. She also demonstrated things like how to stop a dog chewing its lead (if it doesn't drop it when you let go and hold the collar, popping the lead and saying 'ah!') and mouthing at feet (stamping foot, holding leash taunt so that the dog runs back against it) - aversives and punishments. They seem to use an odd combination there of P and R+ - treats for good behaviour, aversives for bad. They also seem to support dominance theory, ew.

Thankfully though, because Lola is only really there for basic knowledge & the socialisation aspect, she won't be being popped around.

On the other hand, Lola had a fab time wrestling (or rather, trying to) with the younger Tibetan Terrier, Lennox. The TT's owner was getting stressed with his constant barking and rowdy jumping; but the pup was excited, and really just wanted to play! L also had fun trying to convince Molly, the Springer, that she was good and safe; Molly's more timid than Lola (which was odd actually--I'd thought Lola would be quite afraid for a while, but it only took her maybe twenty minutes to adjust to all these new dogs and smells: what a good girl!), and L kept letting her hesitantly sniff, and tried to lick and playbite at her tail. Hmm.

I'll be going again next week, but keeping an eye on the DT propaganda. I don't want to be told that Lola is "dominant" because she likes to sit on my shoes when the floor's cold.

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