Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Beginner Obedience Class 1

Last night Nika got to go to DogStar for her first lesson of her own (not just tagging along with her big brother).  She was excellent, but Dave was the total star of the show!  He's going to take the lead handler role for her, at least through her obedience classwork.

First off, I love DogStar.  After having just finished puppy class at Gemini, there was such a difference.  Our class at Gemini was really good--we got to meet tons of puppies, which was the point.  But it was just plain crowded there (as many as 16 dogs in our class, in a small space), and the instructor was just not able to keep track of everything that was going on.  At DogStar, even though the ring was split in half, there were only 5 dogs in the class and two instructors.  One dog was reactive so he had a gate to keep him a little bit separate.  The others just found corners around the ring.  It was also much quieter at DogStar.  And I like Grace a lot.  It was kind of fun to see her in a different context.  She did a good job, but this is a much less demanding class than our agility sessions.

This was the second week of class (we missed last week), but Nika was still at the head of the class.  The exercises were really basic:  sit, down, loose leash walking, stay and recall.  The only new thing Nika did was "stand."  It was not a problem for her, and she caught on quickly.

I had so much fun watching.  Nika was great, but it's neat to watch the others, too.  There was a cute 8 year old girl with a 5 month old puppy.  Watching her, her puppy and her mom together was just so fun.  Grace and the assistant did a great job with them, too, I thought.

Then there was a little terrier mix, a labradoodle (guessing--might have been golden doodle or something), and the reactive dog was a shelter dog.  Each had its own difficulties.

Nika's difficulty was boredom.  This stuff was way easy for her, so whenever Dave would stop challenging her, she would bark.  Thus, he basically had to keep her going the whole time.  He was great, giving her some tug breaks, throwing in other tricks, and working on making the exercises harder with voice/hand cues only, distance, duration, etc.  Grace and the assistant gave him some good ideas, but I was really impressed by his creativity.  Plus, he'd stayed home sick and wasn't feeling well.  I give him an A+.  Nika gets an A (if she wouldn't bark and would just settle she could have an A+, too).  In sum, it was a great success.

I do kind of wonder if we have to do advanced beginner obedience...I looked at the course description and it's all the same exercises, just with distractions.  This is largely why Dave is doing this.  I get so impatient.

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