Last week we would have completed the second set of puppy classes with Kona. Unfortunately, we had to miss the last class as Kona was ill.
Between the two courses, we have spent the past 3 months at weekly 1 hour lessons where Kona has had a chance to socialize with puppies of various breeds, as well as practice obedience amidst the tempting distractions of other people and dogs.
Overall it has been a great experience. P and I probably got more out of it than Kona did, as we are learning how to train dogs while we train Kona. There are many simple things to do when training a dog, but they are not necessarily things that come naturally or intuitively because, well, we’re humans and not dogs!
The greatest value we got out of these classes was in having a trainer whom we could ask unlimited questions as the need arose. There are several places offering obedience classes within a 5 km radius of our home. We chose the one that had a start date as close as possible to the date that Kona was allowed to meet other dogs (12 weeks as per our vet). In the end, that meant training at Canine Campus, under the direction of the owner Lucinda Glenny. We really lucked out in working with Lucinda. We probably sent her on average of 1 email a week with questions on our latest puppy issue or dilemma. She always replied the same day with extremely helpful suggestions and guidance.
Lucinda has more dog knowledge in her pinky finger than most people do in their entire bodies! It is unbelievable to see her with animals. Your puppy may be acting unruly and unresponsive with you and with a quick gesture or word from Lucinda, the puppy is eating out of her hand so to speak. Just incredible.
A perfect example of this is Kona’s enthusiasm in greeting people. Normally we have to force Kona to wait or keep a firm grip on her collar when a person (known or unknown) walks by. One day we got to class early and Kona was alone in the classroom with P. Lucinda entered and told P he could let Kona off leash. Kona, true to her nature, went charging towards Lucinda with great enthusiasm as P began to warn Lucinda of Kona’s jumping tendencies. As Kona approached, Lucinda put out her hand above Kona’s head and Kona sat down. P could not believe it!
Kona’s first class was Puppy Kindergarten, with 8 other puppies. Her favourite friend there was Jasper, an English bulldog. The two of them had lots of fun wrestling each other during play time. Other favourites of ours included Herbie (Aussie Shepherd), Coco (Toy Poodle), Bella (Maltese) and Cowen (a rescue of unknown origin but some definite Rhodesian Ridgeback genes).
After graduating Puppy Kindergarten, we began Manners I. This class has much less socialization (play) time(15 min instead of 30 min) and much more training time (45 min instead of 15 min). There are only 6 dogs in the class, including Coco and Bella from our previous Kindergarten sessions. There is also a lot more one on one time with Lucinda, which means she has more of a chance to see how we interact with Kona and give us specific guidance on what we can improve on. I have gotten a lot out of this, as she has shown me how to assert myself when Kona is being uncooperative – something that doesn’t come naturally to me.
All in all these obedience classes have been well worth the investment of both time and money. We are already reaping the benefits as her manners have made life with a rambunctious puppy much easier to manage.