When we first got Lila, we realized that she probably should have some type of dog training because she didn’t even know the command “sit.” The Animal Humane Society (AHS) offered classes at a discount for people who adopted their pets there. So, I signed us up.
Before bringing Lila to training, there was a class for the humans to attend without the dog. The instructor gave tips on how to train your dog not to pull when you walk with them. We also learned about house training and what types of products to use in case puppy has an accident on the persian rug. Instructions were also given on what to do if your dog bites or mouths people.
The instructor then talked about clicker training. When dogs get used to the clicker training method, all they have to do is hear the clicker, and they start salivating. Yum! The classes are set up in levels. The levels are repeated over and over until you pass onto the next level. The humans need to bring about 100 small treats to class, and she recommended not feeding your dog before training so that they are hungry and attentive. Everyone would get a clicker when they got to class, and she informed us that there are special bags available for purchase to store the treats.
Lila and I were all set to go the first day. We fed her a little bit because I didn’t want to look like a piece of prime rib to Lila. I made sure that Lila had her gentle leader on because I wasn’t sure how she was going to react to the other dogs. Luckily I was able to strap on my own blue fanny pack which carefully held the treats that were cut up into small bite sized pieces.
I was a little worried about bringing Lila back to the AHS because I thought she might be sensitive and maybe she would worry that I was dropping her off there for good. I was wrong. She was very excited to go back. Hmm. She knew which way to go and went up the stairs to meet the grouchy receptionist at the front desk.
“That gentle leader is not on properly,” said the receptionist.
While the receptionist tugged and pulled the gentle leader and made sure that it was as tight as could be, she stomped back behind the desk. It wasn’t too tight because the treats still got through to the proper receptacle.
I barely got our names written on the name tag, and Lila pulled me into the gymnasium. We were instructed to go back in the corner. Treats and toys were up on a table at the opposite wall of the entrance. Chairs lined the other three walls. Thankfully, Lila and I were close to the watering bowl.
The trainer, Bill, came over to meet Lila. Lila barked and panted.
“Panting is a sign of being anxious,” announced Bill. Bill swaggered around the room with his special bag of doggie treats that obviously were better than the treats I brought because I noticed that suddenly Lila was very attuned to Bill. Lila barked and barked at Bill. It was if she was saying, “Come back, come back.” It was very distracting to the class, and I was slightly embarrassed.
“Feed her treats, if she barks,” said the receptionist who was now the trainer’s helper. I thought that might be bad to feed Lila treats just because she was barking.
Bill came back to see Lila. “Here are our newest members,” he said. “I am going to pick on them,” he laughed. Bill showed us the sign for sit. While holding a treat in your hand, hold it slightly up from the top of the nose of the dog and slide it back toward its rear, and the dog will sit. If the dog performs the trick properly, the owner is to click the clicker and give the dog one of the treats from the special bag. Since food was involved, Lila caught on right away. She sat just great. I was so proud.
After the dogs and the people learned the sign for sit, we taught the dogs how to sit by voicing our commands. If the dog did not listen to us, we were to use the sign. We taught them how to sit by our side while being greeted by a “stranger” (i.e., Bill or the assistant). The dog also needed to be able to eat treats from our hand without biting us. Lila did this very well! I, though, had a hard time holding onto the clicker, getting a treat out of the fanny pack before Lila forgot why she was getting a treat, and holding the leash down with my foot so my dog wouldn’t escape and tackle the treats on the table.
When the class was about halfway through, Lila decided that she had enough, and laid down to take a nap. She must have been full, plus it was right around her bedtime. She laid down, paws out front and yawned, her head resting on her legs, obviously bored.
The next Thursday night we did the same thing. It was like that movie, “Ground Hog’s Day.” Everything was repeated, except that the gentle leader did not have to get readjusted. Lila and I stayed in the same level for about five weeks just hoping and dreaming to graduate onto the next level. In order to pass the class, the dog has to do all these things without treats. I knew we were doomed from the beginning.
I helped Lila become a drop out because I rarely practiced with her. The time of the class didn’t help either because Lila gets tired during that time of day. I mean, how many treats are you suppose to give a dog? All those treats upset the natural order of things, if you know what I mean. Messy!
I guess the class was worth it because at least Lila knows how to sit on command now, and we do communicate a little better with each other. There are still times when I think Lila could use some more training so I think I am going to go to the library and get a book. Let me know if you have any good suggestions.
This type of training is not all its clicked up to be.