Saturday, May 5, 2012

Puppy School

Like most new puppy parents, Sandi and I decided to enroll Gypsy in a Puppy training class.
I'm ready for school!
I don't think we really gave it much thought as we just thought that was the thing to do with a puppy. So, we found a local person that had a class starting. She told us to bring a choker chain, leash, and plenty of yummy treats. We had been using a choker collar on Gypsy for walking and didn't have very good results. She pulled just hard enough to choke herself. She was always pulling just a bit, looking for something to chase. We arrive the night of the first class along with all the other new students. Labs, beagles, mixed breeds, all ready to learn. Gypsy on the other hand was there for only one reason, PLAY TIME. She was so excited about meeting all the other puppies, she was just beside herself. Happy feet, hopping around, and talking to all her new friends. I tried to control her the best I could but, it was hopeless. The teacher came over to help me out and taking control of the situation. She gave Gypsy a little tug on the leash to get her attention. Gypsy sat and looked at the teacher with a puzzled expression.
Hey, that HURT!
That got her attention for a short time. This class was predicated on the positive reinforcement technique. Holding a treat in the hand, lifting it over the pups head and as they follow the treat, they sit. When they sit, give them the treat that they then devour. Sounds good right? Most puppies will do anything for a treat right? Seemed like all of them in that class would do just about anything for a treat, with the exception of Gyp. she could care less about a treat. I'd stick the thing right in front of her nose and she would just turn her head away. I'd try to force the treat into her mouth and she would just spit it out.
You can't bribe me with those stupid treats!
So, while all the other students had homework of learning how to sit and down, our homework was to find a treat Gypsy was crazy over. OK, so we are off to a slow start. After several trips to the store, and many different types of treats, Sandi had a stroke of genius. HOT DOGS! Who doesn't like a hot dog?
I love hot dogs, yes!
The next week we come armed with a bag of chopped up hot dogs in a fanny pack. I didn't want to put them in my pocket. We were sure we would be able to get Gypsy to listen to our commands and focus on us. She would run through a fire to get a hot dog. We worked with her at home and she would sit and go down on command while totally focused on the hot dog. We were ready to show off how smart she was. Standard Poodles are among the most intelligent breed, right?
Not only am I pretty, I'm smart too!
Well, we get into class, all the other students are sitting my their masters feet, and Gypsy again goes nuts. Jumping around, happy feet, jumping and twisting in mid air out of control. I try to take charge of the situation by waving a hot dog in front of her face. She could care less about the tempting treat.
Hey everyone, lets play!
That was our last puppy class. To tell you the truth, I believe the teacher was happy to see us drop out. A student like Gypsy could ruin her reputation. That fanny pack just hangs in the garage now, smelling like old hot dogs.
Sandi and I would have to rethink the education of Gypsy.
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