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Why Edmund is an obedience school drop-out

August 8, 2011
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Edmund’s second obedience class was so traumatic for all three of us that I am just now posting this  journal entry below. I should say up front that Edmund is now an obedience school drop-out with few job skills. He knows these commands: Sit, Lie Down (which may sometimes be interpreted as “Ignore her; she does not have food in her hand), Come (which may mean “Hide deep under the bed behind the shoes; they’re wanting to put you in the kennel and go someplace fun without you”) and Go potty (which may mean “Hold until you get inside; it’s air-conditioned in there”).

April 12, 2011

Edmund’s second obedience class last night was an awful experience. Jeff asked if I wanted to go to obedience school with them. So I said yes. They use pinch collars, which I don’t like. This is not the kind of training Jeff had had in mind… he wanted to use positive reinforcement clicker training, but the breeder heard from respected folks that this place way up in Shoreview, 35 minutes away, was just great, so Jeff signed on. And Jeff thought the first class was fine.

When we got there, I met Esme, Edmund’s beautiful daughter, and lots of other dogs. One amazingly beautiful dog was Julius, a Portuguese water dog, who looked rather like a portly poodle with a bowl hair cut, a tux and swollen legs.

It’s quite amazing to see 20 dogs or so of all descriptions with their owners of all colors and sizes and descriptions gathered in a little gymnasium in the back of a pet store for obedience school.

The dogs are fairly quiet because if they aren’t, the teacher sprays them in the face with water. Around and around they parade. Sit. Stay. Heel. The teacher’s helpers demonstrate each new skill with their dogs.

With a little pinch from their pinch collars when they didn’t go where their leashes led them, they all did pretty well. A couple of small dogs were kinda dunces and skittered and squirmed. But Edmund did great. Until the last command he was to learn: Down.

To teach them to lie down for the “Down” command, the handler (Jeff) was to put the leash under his foot and pull, which is supposed to make the dog go down. But Edmund didn’t get it. He went sideways and yelped and yelped. I was standing on the sideline and said to Jeff, “I wouldn’t make him do it.”  (I confess I was once kicked out of a mommy/child swimming class for telling a mom she didn’t have to dunk her crying child when the teacher told her to.)  The teacher’s helper came over and told Jeff to do it again. I ran out of the store, feeling like I had a sudden ulcer and nausea. I could hear Edmund yelping again as I ran. Jeff said he tried the command three times total, but he felt terrible about Edmund not catching on and felt Edmund lost trust. Jeff came out of the store, comforted and praised Edmund lots, and we headed home.

We groused all the way home. Why should a smart dog have to learn a command right that second when he didn’t even know what was expected of him? He was used to standing as a show dog, and even learning to sit has been a challenge.

Jeff was so upset when he got home that he called the breeder and told her about the experience. We won’t be going back. He is going to ask for a refund for the remaining classes. And he’s finding a class that is more in keeping with our philosophy of dog handling. Notice I almost said “our dog.” The positive thing that came from this experience was that Edmund is now almost my dog, too. And nobody is going to insist that a dog that’s almost MY dog has to be treated like that.

Today he (Edmund, that is) seems more cuddly with both of us. When I was on the couch, he (Edmund, that is) would come over and just wiggle his butt back and touch it against me while he snoozed. He (Edmund, that is) is not what you’d call a cuddler by nature. Jeff, on the other hand….

P.S. in August: To teach Edmund to lie down, I had to have him sit and then follow my hand (which held a tidbit of banana) to the floor. It took him several days to learn to do it without my hand going to the floor. It took more days for him to learn to go down without first hearing the “Sit” command. But now he understands “Down” quickly, especially if there is a blueberry in someone’s hand.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Greta permalink
    August 8, 2011 11:37 pm

    Mine will do all that but not for fruit. Noooo They want steak.

  2. August 11, 2011 4:58 am

    Hahaha… Greta, that made me laugh. But sorry about Edmund. The nice thing about dogs. They don’t hold things like that against you. 😉 Not like kids can… we like to bring things like this back to our parents attention for years to come. Hee.

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