Tuning out

Roxie during playtime at class. She's the blur in the middle of shot.

Roxie has graduated from her Manners & Etiquette I class. While she wasn’t exactly a model student, she did show a great enthusiasm and appears to be the most popular dog in class, both by the other dogs and their owners. She has reenforced her “Sit,” “Come,” and “Let’s go” commands and learned “Leave it,” “Drop it,” and the all important “Stay.” She is learning to remain calm and not immediately jump on people she meets and she’s less freaked out by other dogs. She’s making great strides in becoming a Good Dog.

Roxie is now eligible to take Manners and Etiquette II. The purpose of this class is, in part “to improve Level I skills in duration and distraction.” Initially, I was a little disappointed by the syllabus. No teaching her not to pull on a leash? To look both ways before barreling across the street? Then I realized Laura (dog instructor) was right on. My biggest problem with Roxie right now is not her disobedience, it is her inability to hear me call to her when she has found something good and smelly, sees a squirrel, or encounters another dog. When she hears me, she obeys me, albeit reluctantly. So the next step is to add small distractions to Roxie’s routine and call out commands, to train her ear to hear my voice when other things are vying for her attention. As we train this ability up in her one distraction at a time, she’ll begin to hear me over the police sirens and mocking crows, and she’ll obey, because that’s really what she wants to do anyway.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.–John 10:27

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