Dog obedience, week 3

This week was not a disaster.

The potential was there for one. As soon as we walked into the building, Casey recognized it and got nervous. Before class started, we were sitting on metal folding chairs along one wall, and he sat between my legs. When I got up to get into position for class, he very quickly headed underneath the metal folding chairs to hide. I dragged him out.

Every class starts with 10-20 minutes of walking in a circle, practicing heeling, and stopping and sitting. Casey's funny- he did fine on the far sides of the room, but every time we got to the corner where the open door was, he'd bolt for it and I'd have to pull him back. Every. Time.

This deviation wasn't noticed by the teachers- they were busy dealing with a small blue-merle Australian Cattle Dog that kept barking and snapping and trying to go after a lab. I appreciated the distraction. After the walking, we did the rest of the exercises- mostly Stays and Down-Stays and Comes- lined up on a wall. Last week I ran into problems being in a corner rather than the middle of the wall, but this week I was fortunately right in the middle of the wall, no corner to hide in remotely nearby. This worked very well, and, while Casey was definitely very nervous (he wouldn't take a treat from me the whole time!), he cooperated, and actually did the Stays better than most the dogs. This was probably due to the fact he was frightened, and moving was scarier to him than just sitting huddled in the same place, but I'll take what I can get. We had worked on Down at home previously, so this wasn't an entirely new skill to him- this probably also helped.

The week was very encouraging, knowing that we could get through a class without being totally embarrassed, and that he got better over the course of the class rather than worse, like last time. Our conclusion was: He'll get used to this. I think he's starting to see this obedience stuff as his 'job'- which is a good thing, because Australian Shepherds need 'jobs' to be kept happy. This morning while I was making my lunch, I had him do 6 or so alternating Sits & Downs to keep him busy. That seemed to work and keep everyone happy.

We're going to be out of town the next couple days, so I hope he doesn't forget everything in the meantime!

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