Friday, April 13, 2012

Training Session 0

Hi, I'm a nerd, and I start counting at zero. This is particularly fitting because the session we had last week was the consultation. When I posted about looking for a trainer, I was contacted by Bird of Queer Skies Ahead, who offers private dog training and lives reasonably nearby. (Thanks for commuting out for us, Bird!)

Even though we didn't do any training, the behavioral consultation session made me feel a lot better about our situation. We went over their histories and what we were hoping to accomplish. I admitted to wanting dogs like Miss M and Mr B from Two Pitties in the City. Looking back on my answers, I definitely commend Bird for not facepalming. We settled on four main areas of work: Badger and Mushroom's interactions with each other, leash reactivity toward other dogs, jumping on strangers (and occasionally us), and whining in their crates.

Then came the part that made me feel better. Bird asked if there was anything that would elicit a growl or a snarl from the dogs. She went through a long list of scenarios, and we answered no to all of them. This was very reassuring because I was reminded that Badger and Mushroom are generally pretty good dogs. I spend a lot of time worrying about their negative traits but evidently not enough time appreciating their virtues.

Our homework was to prepare the dogs for clicker training by teaching them to associate a "click" with a treat. Mushroom was scared of the sound at first, but she is so food-motivated that she quickly got over her fear. Badger, who is not as food-motivated, would actually run away and try to play with his toys while we were holding the clicker, so we switched from feeding him kibble to feeding Old Mother Hubbard training treats. For the moment, he's hanging around while we click, but he gets this wild look in his eyes, like he's ready to bolt at any second.

We'll see how well we did with homework when Bird comes back for our first real training session this weekend. She's also bringing in the big guns (hot dogs and cheese), which just might convince Badger that it's worth behaving.

Thanks for sticking with me through that wall of text. Now the fun part - photos from our hike today!

Llamaentity: "Don't use the picture with my leg in it."

Badger shows off the wild eyes

Mushroom watches Badger drink (gross) water from the stream


  1. WOW I love the dog blogging world! That's awesome that Bird is helping you train the pup's one-on-one (I also didn't realize she lived in the MA area). Good luck with the training. One day you'll look back and say 'wow they've come along way'.
    And word to the wise. Once they get the 'good treats' ie real meat & cheese, they wont go back to the kibble. Or at least that's what my spoiled brad did!

    1. Uh-oh... We just picked up a pack of string cheese and a pack of hotdogs from the grocery store.

  2. So funny when world's collide! We 'know' Bird too! I wish I had the blog when Miss M first started her training. She was so, so bad. Her first training class she was like a fish on a wire, and half my walks I would end up tackling her because she would grab her leash and thrash. Excited to read how it goes!

    1. She's come so far! It makes me feel hopeful that one day Badger and Mushroom can be civilized.