Friday, 31 May 2013

Obedience training

One thing we knew for certain was that we wanted to do some obedience class with Mawson. As he has always been a big puppy and becoming an even bigger crazy boy with a lot of strength, we fully intended to be able to keep him under (relative!) control.

We started being strict parents (yeah right...) from the start. Did the puppy preschool, which is only really an excuse to go and have a pile of tiny pups sweetly misbehaving in unison. But it was still a lot of learning, mostly for us as I think Mawson just only learnt he was getting too big to be kept on our laps during the lessons.
We then did a puppy obedience course. A lot of hard work and a very good team of trainers. Mostly for a first timer like me. Mawson was behaving really well even if showing off his goofiness at any possible occasion.
During the class we had to make sure we could handle our puppy and got given each a T shirt we had to fit on him. Not a big trouble for us but that still gave us some good giggles mostly because of this:

Just need to add a gold chain....

We are not obedience freaks. I want Mawson to have his own imagination and personality. I don't want him to walk like a prisoner next to me on the words of left right left. Just want him to respond to me when needed and have good manners.
And with a bit of obedience we can then start some fun things like agility and tracking as the club we go to only accept dogs older than a year old and at the 3rd class level of obedience. They are also very obedience trialling oriented which I am not very interested in, but that means some of them take it veeeeery seriously (they should try getting a hobby for some of them...).

So here we went to the club starting at the bottom of the heap. I just recently felt that my saturdays were like the ones of the families bringing their kids to activities at different times of the day, ballet, soccer piano lessons... Anyway I digress. We did another puppy/entry class, then went on to first level. And stayed there... until we started ripping our hair out of our heads and eating our hats. Mawson was all over the place in lessons, more interested in smelling and rolling in kangaroo or possum poos than sitting nicely and straight next to me or heeling at any pace! Trying to play with the dogs next to us (or anywhere actually) was also a favourite. The most frustrating was that he could do so much of what we asked him when at home. The usual thing outdoor is a different matter. So we gave up for a while, the two neurones were not connecting or firing at the same time.

Following a 3 months break with "school" we attempted to restart the classes. What a difference! He went straight up to the next level on the first day and ever since we have gone up! He is so much more settled, though he still like to show off his imagination at unexpected times (usually the moments where a we are in front of the whole class for better effect, which makes them all laugh for his goofiness).
We have now reached the quested 3rd level and we will start agility tomorrow! I think I am definitely more excited about that than Mawson who looks at me with quizzical looks when I jump up and down... boys....

One lesson we learnt is that you have to stay realistic with your dog, both with his age capacity and the speed of training. It's like letting kids be kids and play, they can't be expected to solve complex mathematical equations in primary school, need to learn numbers first.
Basically it is all about knowing when the time is right and when to have a break!

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