Saturday, October 29, 2011
Isis Goes to School, Day One
We've had our dog, Isis, for about six weeks now. She's calmed down quite a bit -- about as much as a rat terrier can calm down, I guess -- but still, we figured obedience training couldn't hurt. So, armed with crossed fingers and a pocket full of treats, she and I set out for our first class.
My conclusion: With apologies to David Letterman, here are the top 10 things to keep in mind when taking a dog to obedience class for the first time.
10. If your dog is a little dog and all the other canines in the room make at least two of her, chances are she won't feel terribly relaxed. She may even shake through the entire 60-minute session, and she could also be far too nervous to take the treats that are supposed to be motivating her. And it's difficult for a dog to learn to sit, stay, come, look and all kinds of other interesting things when she leaps into your lap every time another dog barks.(It's also not good to bring Cheerios as treats, even if your dog loves them at home. She'll take one sniff of someone else's Snausage (OK, that might sound dirty, but I promise it's not) and be even less motivated to do cool things for you.)
9. If you're feeling terribly organized and superior for having all your dog's records in one folder and bringing the folder to the meeting, your humility will be restored by the looks of other people in the class when they notice your papers are in a Justin Bieber folder. Yes, I'm serious, and don't ask.
8. If you're paying $109 for a class and there are four dogs in it, your trainer should remember the gender and perhaps even the name of your dog. I'm just saying.
7. If some dogs are known to behave excitably toward strangers or other dogs, it's probably not the best idea to hold the class in a room with one wall that's entirely a window and offers a near-constant flow of others, human and otherwise, walking past.
6. It's almost impossible for the average human to give a dog a treat, pet her, say "Good dog," and click a clicker at the same time. (Or maybe it's possible for the average human and impossible just for me. At any rate...)
5. Don't judge the people in your class. The guy in the cowboy hat -- the one with a mouthful of chew and a homemade tattoo on his forearm -- might be a redneck, but he also might freely offer to share his name-brand treats with your dog. This might actually distract her enough so that she stops shaking.
4. It's OK to feel superior to the classmate whose dog is wearing a sweater.
3. It's also OK to feel superior to the classmates -- two of them -- who obviously named their dogs after "Twilight" characters.
2. It's best to avoid taking it personally when the trainer responds to your comment about a clever trick you've been using with your dog by shaking his head and saying, "Nope, that's not effective. In fact, it's just noise."
And the No. 1 thing to keep in mind when taking your dog to obedience class for the first time:
1. If she chooses to relieve herself by leaving a No. 2 on the way out the door -- even though she never has accidents at home -- you might just end up feeling as though you really, seriously can't blame her.
P.S. The good news -- after I got her home, away from the trainer calling her "he" and the three giant attack dogs, she learned to sit. All it took was a handful of Snausages and, curiously, the absence of a clicker.