Monday, April 19, 2010

Training Day

This Saturday, we had a very special visitor. A dog trainer! Yay! It went really well. I'll be honest, I was really worried that we'd be told we're doing so much wrong and Paisley's going to be mean forever and Clover will never go potty outside on her own. Thankfully, though, we were told we're doing a lot of things right, and were taught how to change our interactions with The Girls to make things better.

When the trainer came in, Paisley was her usual self, barking and howling. Of course, little sister Clover followed suit. Within just a couple minutes, though, the trainer showed me how to quiet Paisley by firmly muzzling her with my hand and saying "quiet!" She noticed that I was trying to hold Paisley and say "it's okay, calm down" in a soothing voice and that was giving mixed signals. Instead, if I firmly muzzle her and don't give her attention until she's quiet, Paisley clearly knows that I want her to be calm. Seems obvious right? I felt a little dumb, but the trainer told me that as humans, we see our pets as a baby that needs to be comforted. But Paisley is interpretting my comforting as weakness and feels the need to defend. Anyway, in almost no time, Paisley was calmly sitting next to me, and couldn't have cared less that there was a stranger on the couch 3 feet away.

Next, we took Paisley out for a walk. The trainer noted that I don't keep great control of Paisley and let her get ahead of me, so we worked on loose leash training and heeling. Since Pais had learned that at Petsmart training, she took to it again quickly. Normally on walks, Paisley barks at everyone. But the trainer told me that part of it is her feeling a need to protect, and by me letting her walk ahead, she assumed the role of protector. By making her stay behind, I'm showing her that I'm on the defense and making sure we're safe. It was a huge difference! We walked slowly on the path around the park and past two parties and Paisley hardly noticed them. The trainer showed me how to position myself as we approach people so that I put myself in a guarding position. Paisley is so much more relaxed outside now. And I have the knowledge and tools I need to calm her if she's not relaxed. I'm so relieved!

As far as Clover goes, the trainer wants us to do the same things on walks to quiet her. She taught us that Paisley and Clover have different signals when they're on the alert, and how to watch for them and nip them in the bud. If we let it go too far, it's that much harder to reel them in. So detecting that first sign in each of them is key. For house-breaking, the trainer thinks we may have given Clover too much trust and freedom, and she is missing something in terms of the idea that the apartment is a giant crate and not to be peed in. So we're going back to the very beginning taking away her roaming space and she'll be crated more until she earns freedom.

All in all, I feel so much better after our lesson with the trainer. She comes back next weekend to see how we're doing. I'm off work all week, so I've got plenty of time and attention to devote to working on our new skills.

The rest of our weekend was great. Yesterday, we went to see our friends Scott and Melissa and painted. Dan nearly finished installing the urinal in Scott's garage (boys...). I'm almost done with my daisy painting - I just need to touch up my petals and do the flower's center. I'm hoping to get to finish it later in the week once I get the rest of my to-do list tackled.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!


BrownEyedGirlsMom said...

Glad the Dog Whisperer worked out so well! Enjoy uour week off!

Anonymous said...

We need a trainer for our girls, I think. J doesn't want it...he says they are fine. But they jump up on everyone and Sofie uses the house like a giant toilet instead of a giant crate. Good luck with your new training. I hope everything goes really well.

Salt said...

She IS like the Dog Whisperer! In hindsight all that stuff seems so obvious, but I never would have even thought about that from the beginning! I hope things keep getting better and better from here! (I'm sure they will.)