Obedience: Take it or Leave it

dog obedienceAfter Ruby passed, and as I was considering adopting a new greyhound, I did the responsible thing and spoke to my husband about it.  Obviously, if you are considering adopting any animal, all family members must be on board with it.  One condition I had to meet for my husband to agree to the adoption was to enroll our new greyhound in obedience classes.  Ruby was never formally trained – we just played it by ear, and she figured it out pretty quick.  Ruby, however, was a retired racer.  Luna, on the other hand, was basically found on the streets of South Korea, left to fend for herself.  She had no manners whatsoever, and I knew we would need some help with her.

I looked around and settled on the six week Beginner Training course offered through Petsmart.  Enrollment fee: about $120.00.

Before class had even started, we had already taught her “sit” and to “wait” for her food.  Because of that, I felt pretty good going into training class.  And then class started.

The trainer asked us to show her what our dogs had already learned.  The opening act: a cute brown and white spaniel sitting next to us who already knew how to sit, lay down, stay, twirl, and a few other commands that I stopped paying attention to.  Well, how the heck do I follow that?  I got up, and on command, Luna plopped her butt on the floor.  Bam!

Ok, so it wasn’t a dance routine like the dog before us, but I was happy.  The remaining three dogs – a pit bull, a golden retriever puppy, and another dog I cannot remember who was only there because of a court order – had zero to one commands down.  Turns out, this was a refresher course for the spaniel, so it made the rest of us feel a lot better.

We are four weeks into the class, and Luna is doing pretty well.  She’ll sit anywhere for a stinky treat.

I still struggle with bribing her with food to get her to drop my slipper or leave the used tissue alone, but I understand that it’s the foundation of Pavlovian conditioning, and we have to provide positive reinforcement with the treat, then slowly take the treat away and provide praise and love instead.

We are working on “stay.”  In order to pass the class, one of the required commands is to make Luna sit and stay while I walk a circle around her.  Oh that will be fun.  I better get more stinky treats to work on that one.

So tell me about your training.  Do you prefer the classroom or did you train your greyhound another way?  Do you see value in training your greyhound, or do you find it useless?

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