Josh: My daddy never took me to a training class, so I guess I don’t have much to say here. I came to them as a trained 18-month year old dog.
Jeter: Training was my specialty! The first class I went to, I was scared to walk into the room. My daddy picked me up, and the trainer instead shouted at him to put me back down again.
Alanis: I was also afraid to walk in the door the first day – the difference is that I was already too big to pick up! They needed to lure me into the building. Interestingly, it got to the point later on where I never wanted to leave the building once I was in!
Jeter: On my first day, I had trouble with the “down” command. Daddy thought this was going to be a process…little did he know….
Alanis: On my first day, I did a lot of barking and very little listening. I was a bit of a handful, to say the least.
Jeter: Well, you still are a handful. Interestingly, after I finally learned the down command, something clicked in my brain. I suddenly became an obedience savant! I started learning (and remembering!) commands on the first try. When they taught me “Leave it!”, I picked up on it in an instant. I wouldn’t break a “Wait” command regardless of the temptation they put in front of me. I became the teacher’s pet. If my Daddy wasn’t such a klutz (I knew the commands better than he did!), who knows what I could have been? To this day, I still know my commands even if they aren’t used often. A few weeks ago, my Daddy yelled “Look!” at me while I was laying down, and I instantly turned around and looked at him. He hadn’t used that command in YEARS.
Alanis: Yeah, yeah – I heard all about you, Jeter. Stuff of legend, I guess. I am legendary in my own way! My trainer has told me that I am very lucky that I found my current Mommy & Daddy, because many people wouldn’t be able to deal with my insanity and quirks. I don’t learn commands on one try, but once I do learn them, I want to do them over and over again. An object I hate one week can suddenly become one of my favorite objects the next week. I know 35 or more words, but can’t do obedience at the Jeter level (who can?). I love to work. I am at my happiness when I am in work mode – even if that is nothing more than chasing a toy (or wrestling around with Jeter).
Jeter: I am very enthusiastic about pleasing my owners. You tell me to sit and stay, I won’t move until you let me – whether that is ten seconds later or five minutes later. Obedience is very important to me – just like a properly placed colon is important for an editor.
Alanis: It is tougher for me – I can’t hold commands like Jeter does. I am more into the tricks, and using the tricks as a way to keep me disciplined. You have to make things interesting for me – and don’t overdo it, or else I will stray off course. If you work hard for me, I will work hard for you in return.
Jeter: You are definitely more of a tricks dog than an obedience dog, while I am more of the opposite. I know my tricks, but I seem to gain more joy by successfully holding a wait command for a few minutes. That gets me very excited, for reasons only known by my brain.
Alanis: One thing is for certain: We will both do ANYTHING for food!
Jeter: That goes without saying….
Me: I strongly recommend training! Josh came to us mostly trained as an 18-month old dog, but to this day, I wish I would have taken him to a training class. The classes are great for bonding with your dog, in addition to teaching them commands that could potentially save their lives if a bad situation presents itself (dog gets out of your yard, dog approaches food they shouldn’t eat, etc.) While training facilities are typically better than going to a brick-and-mortar store like Petco, the most important thing is finding a class for your dog, regardless of where that may be. If you have a young dog (or puppy), you will probably start in Puppy Kindergarten. If your dog is a little older, you may be told to start them in a class that is a little more advanced than Kindergarten. You can also hire someone to come to your house for personalized lessons – this can be very handy for a dog that wouldn’t do as well in a “traditional” class. Some dogs are just not good in an environment where there are several other dogs. If your dog came from a shelter, it can take them a while to get fully accustomed to you and your home. A good trainer will assess your dog before coming up with a good training plan. Makes sense, right? If your car stops running, a mechanic won’t just jump under the hood and rebuild your engine. He first needs to find out WHY the car isn’t running. If your dog is not adjusting to your home the way you hoped, you would want a trainer to first assess WHY that may be before jumping into a way to correct it.
A solid training foundation will lead to a more successful relationship between your family and your dog. Whether you have a Jeter (who figures it all out in one try) or an Alanis (who is always going to need some reinforcement), you will find that you will have a better dog after training than the one you had before training. That is the ultimate goal.