The knock on the door roused Summer and Koda from their sleepy spot on the hearth. They bolted over to the baby-gate and jumped up on hind legs with front paws resting on top. Imagine their surprise when I opened the front door and in walked their teacher from puppy school. A mixture of confusion and excitement crossed their fluffy faces. They love going to her at the training facility, always eager to hop out of the car and trot into the building with tails wagging. They are probably thinking, “We are in our house where rules and boundaries are much looser, so what is SHE doing here?”
I invited her, that’s why. We planned this in-home lesson to practice the things they have been learning in school. Our home environment is different than the dog training and boarding facility. There is no comfy large sectional sofa at the school, or houses next door with workers and people getting their mail. Sure there are plenty of other dogs at the school, and employees in blue shirts, but it is different and the puppies know it. So a visit from their teacher is just what we needed.
Koda and Summer were suddenly on their best behavior. They sat calmly watching her walk into the room. Koda had started to bark when she first entered the foyer, but as soon as she removed her sun glasses and he recognized her he stopped barking. They wagged their tails and wiggled around her feet in the kitchen when she came in. One puppy even piddled on the floor in excitement. As we talked the puppies watched us and were probably still trying to make sense of their teacher standing in their house. It reminds me of bumping into one of the kids’ teachers in the grocery store, they would get really quiet and puzzled about how she was outside of her classroom and had a basket full of cereal, eggs, paper towels and hot dogs. She must eat and clean her counters, just like us. Mind-blowing for the kids to consider their teachers even outside of the school.
We took the puppies into the backyard and worked on recall. Here is where I will admit something I have not yet shared on my blog. We use e-collars in the training. The collars are remotely controlled from a small device I hold in my hand, one button for Summer and one for Koda. It is a very low frequency, just enough to send a little message of correction when a command is not followed. I was reluctant about the e-collar method initially, but as the puppies grew large fast and became very rambunctious I worried about being able to maintain any order. For the past month, I have seen a big transformation. They sit, they wait for the word “free” to release, they walk right at my side, and stop when I stop. We are still working on things like not jumping up on people and the barking. I don’t mind Koda alerting us with his barking, I just want to be able to say “quiet” and have him settle down.
The other impressive “trick” is how they go onto this raised cot-like bed when they hear the word “climb.” I first witnessed them do this at the school and it sent me into giggles. I could hardly believe my eyes. Upon hearing the word “climb” both dogs went right over to the “climb” (the name for the cot-like rectangle) and immediately sat and turned to watch the room. What made me laugh most was that they sat there content, just watching and waiting until the release word “free” was used. The teacher even asked me to clap my hands excitedly. They looked from me to the teacher then back at me, but never got off of the climb. I could hardly believe it.
I bought one of those cot-like “climbs”. The teacher brought it today and we practiced it. Koda and Summer did well. Again they were a little puzzled why we were having to do so much “work” when they were at their play place, where they usually kick back and do whatever they feel like doing. We also went on a walk. I was excited about showing the teacher my loose leash walking because this is the one area in which I feel quite accomplished. They stay right next to me, no tangled leashes or tripping me up. They stop when I stop. Koda is always looking up at me, like “Is this ok, am I doing what you want? You like this?”
By the time our in-home lesson was done, the puppies were pooped out. They drank water and sprawled out on the floor. We will have their teacher back again one day soon, and maybe the next time they will get over the awkwardness a little sooner.
*More will be explained about their training in Friday’s movie. Stay tuned…