Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Under the bridge... that's falling down

Today I taught my first classes. They weren't even technically mine, I was just covering for another trainer. I had a Puppy class's graduation, and the third week of a Beginner class to teach. I was so nervous! But I think it went pretty well, and I think it's easier this way instead of my first class being day one of a class when we have to give this big long speech about training, positive reinforcement and a bunch of other stuff. Plus, the customers didn't have to know that this was my first time so that helped. I was able to kind of pretend that I'd done this a million times and that helped me get through it without stumbling too much.

In the second class of the night, there were only two dogs: a Pug and a Jindo. We were supposed to learn "Down" which can be very difficult for many dogs to learn. My own dog, Harley, had a difficult time learning it. But none of the normal techniques (i.e. luring dog from a sit to down with a treat starting at their nose and bringing it to the floor, plus some variations on this technique) worked for either of the two dogs in the class so I had to use the bridge technique for both of them. This is when you sit on the floor with your legs together and knees bent to make a little bridge for the dog to go under. It's a lot easier with small dogs, but I was able to get the Jindo under my legs pretty successfully. The point of this technique is that they'll follow your hand/treat under your legs and you click and treat when they lie down. Your legs should be low enough that they can't just walk under your legs but not so high that they will refuse to go under them. Each time you should lower your legs a little bit until you hopefully get to the point where the dog will not want to go under your legs and will lie down next to them. It's kind of complicated and a bit hard to explain, and it is very difficult to fade from going under the legs to just using a simple hand gesture or verbal cue. But I was very proud of myself for remembering this technique because for my final exam during training, I had to teach a week 3 Beginner class and completely forgot about the bridge technique for one of the dogs in the class that was having a difficult time with "down."

Tomorrow I'm not teaching any classes but I'm teaching two more on Thursday- I can't remember which weeks but they're both Beginner classes I believe.

Whew what a day- I'm exhausted! Oh and one of the books I ordered- Don't Shoot the Dog! came in, so I'll try and start reading that soon.

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