Saturday, February 18, 2012

Don't Forget Pretzel!

Looking through my last couple posts, I noticed that we are lacking in Pretzel material!  I have to admit, this is partially due to a lack of Pretzel pictures.  Poor guy has been subject to the fate of all second children, and isn't getting his equal share of photos.

You're kidding right?  How could you resist photographing this adorable mug?
Seriously!  Look at these puppy eyes!

So, I figured the little guy deserved his own training update post.  Earlier this year he finished his first big-pup class: Elementary Clicker Training down at Gentle Touch.  There were definitely a few bumps along the way, but we both got a lot out of the class.

The first class was a great intro to clicker training, complete with a demonstration of doggy skateboarding.  Seeing Blaze the Swedish Vallhund skateboard definitely made my day.  Pretty much any dog skateboarding is crazy cute, and seeing it in person was even cuter!  (I don't have a video of Blaze doing it, so enjoy this adorable Boston scooting around Paris.)

The second class, however was where our challenges started.  Pretzel decided to show his hand, and remind me that he has some reactive dog tendencies.

*hangs head in shame*  I'm sorry Mom, I'm just a pup, and I'm still learning.
All the dogs were much bigger than him, and after feeling a bit threatened, he cried havoc upon a Belgian Sheepdog puppy.  Pretzel definitely struggled through his obvious dislike for the big black dog throughout the remaining 5 weeks of class.  On the up side, having floundered through this kind of thing with Hoagie, helping Pretzel through his fearfulness was comparably easy.

Yeah, um, you're welcome, I guess.

Besides his issues with his classmates, Pretzel and I learned lots.  He now has most of the basics under his belt, and is a pro at targeting and spins.  We even had the time on our last meeting to learn how to ring a bell.  With some extra work at home, Pretzel now happily rings a service bell for treats!

I can haz hotdog?

Pretzel, however, wasn't the only one to get a lot out of the class.  Ivy and Lisa are great teachers, and I really saw how much I still have to learn.  I definitely need to improve my clicker coordination and make sure I always have a flexible plan when training.  Pretzel reminded me that every dog is different, and has his or her own way of learning.  While Hoagie is a quick study, Pretzel requires a bit more practice to understand each behavior.  On the flip side, Pretzel is far quicker to offer new behaviors, making free shaping a bit easier.

So, all in all, Pretzel and I have come a long way through his first class, but we still have a long road to travel.  I'm looking forward to the trip with this wiry little pup!

 PS.  I haven't forgotten about my promise of embarrassing Freestyle video.  Currently waiting to get the video files from the videographer.  Soon...

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