Saturday, December 1, 2007

Confession: My Dog May Be Smarter Than Me


(Katie pictured above at five months old. You can clearly see the intelligence in her beautiful brown eyes :-)

Last night when Katie and I were at dog school, I spoke to our lovely sub-novice teacher, Lois, before class. I was asking her advice on what class Katie and I should take next. Larry, our basic obedience instructor, previously told me that most dogs benefit from repeating sub-novice two or three times. So, I asked Lois if she thought we should do that. Our conversation was interrupted, so she did not get to answer my question right then.

Class started out with a heeling exercise. We were walking in a large square practicing our turns, with some about turns thrown in, sits, downs and lots of variation to our pace. Katie was doing beautifully. After that exercise was complete the teacher came up to me and commented on how well Katie was doing. She told me that she thought Katie would get bored if we repeated and that her recommendation was that we go on to Novice next. Funny, that’s the same thing Larry said when I asked if we should repeat his class, “No, Katie would be bored”.

After Lois told me we should go on to Novice I was feeling pretty good about my training partnership with Miss Katie. We did the figure 8 exercise and Katie did a great job. Then Lois suggested we try it without our leashes. I was thinking that it would be easy since Katie and I do some off leash work at home and she usually does pretty well. I was so wrong! It was not easy for ME at all. I couldn’t get Katie to do anything even by luring her with her favorite homemade salmon cookies. Lois saw exactly what the problem was and to prove her point she removed ME from the equation. She led Katie though the exercise herself (still off leash) and of course Katie did it perfectly. Then the same thing happened when we were practicing our fronts. I just couldn’t get Katie to sit straight, but of course she would sit straight every time for her teacher.

Poor Katie... always having to wait on her mama to catch up. I have noticed that when I finally get my mind wrapped around what I am supposed to be doing Katie usually falls into place immediately. The learning curve seems to be mostly on my side. I’ve never trained a dog before (beyond sit, shake hands and down), so I have a little bit of an excuse. There really is a lot for the human to learn...dog school isn’t just school for dogs. Tons of information gets thrown at you all at once in sub-novice. It’s fascinating though how the smallest turn of your shoulders can be the difference between success or failure for you and your dog. I think with Newf2 I will do a much better job since I will have a lot of this down by then. In the meantime, Katie will just have to put up with her slow mama... thank goodness she is such a patient girl. I’m going to have to get very serious about training myself so that I don’t cause us to get held back in sub-novice. If that happened Katie might decide to do novice by herself.
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