Last week’s training session was pretty uneventful and for once, uneventful was a good sign. No embarrassing accidents or mysterious holes hopefully means Luna is getting more comfortable in the training class.

Luna did well at her sit and stays. We practiced sitting and staying for one minute intervals. If she ever got up, I corrected and had her sit and stay again. This week we have been working on longer intervals, up to three minutes long.

We have not quite gotten "leave it" down, but the cheese gets her attention!

We have not quite gotten “leave it” down, but the cheese gets her attention!

We revisited training for “heel” and it improved the amount she jumps. This will still probably be one of the most difficult training exercises but Luna is showing improvement with our new technique.

We also switched over to using cheese during training since it has a more pungent smell. This has been helpful in keeping Luna’s attention longer, especially when training for “heel”. We switched to cheese after our trainer suggested using something your dog will do anything for. She stressed that being able to get their attention is very important and using their favorite food can be helpful. She also gave some examples, including cheese and even steak. The most interesting story was about two pugs who would do anything for lettuce.

We all have these weaknesses. Mine is crab rangoon or wonton. They are terrible for you, but oh so delicious. My boyfriend says I could never be in a position of power or trusted with valuable secrets because I can be controlled with crab rangoon.

What food would you be willing to do anything for?

Luna is also learning “watch me,” which is another great way to get your dog’s attention. Right, now she still needs the treat to get her attention, but we are working on it!

We will get it! We promise!

We will get it! We promise!

During class we started talking about recall and “leave it”. Our trainer told us to use “come” for recall only if our dog already comes 85% of the time. According to her it is very likely for dogs to get negatively conditioned on the word “come” before they are trained. She reasoned that people often call their dogs to them for negative activities like taking a bath or being left alone for hours during the day. She suggested using the word “front”.

We also learned that it is important to call your dog and praise him or her during the learning phase, especially if you are calling your dog from the backyard. Your dog may think your are ending the fun by calling him or her inside. Spicing things up and calling your dog to praise and then send him or her back outside could help prevent your dog from ignoring the recall command later.

I was thrilled to start learning “leave it.” As a beagle, Luna has to smell everything and maybe even taste it. I am constantly pulling things she should not be eating from her mouth. When Luna learns the “leave it” command, my life will become a lot easier and I will not be so worried about her eating foreign objects. Our trainer suggested using a ball or toy to help teach “leave it.” Unfortunately, Luna is not very ball motivated, so we will have to try it with a fluffy toy soon.

In addition to all of our previous homework assignments, we have been adding “leave it” and recall. Tomorrow, we are not scheduled to learn anything new. It will be good to review what we have been working on.

Jessica Shipman
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