Wednesday, November 9, 2011


We are in the process of training the dogs in basic obedience.  We attend a class just for greyhounds every Saturday afternoon, and we have been introduced to the world of clickers and treats, and using these wonderful tools to get the dogs to do what we want for them to do.  It's just the basics for now - sit, down, stay, come, "leave it."   And a little bit of very basic agility work.

I have to admit, in the beginning I was hopeful yet a tiny bit skeptical.  Argos is a very well-behaved gentleman, but he is stubborn and a bit set in his ways.  I knew that he would be resistant, at least in the beginning, to learning new things.  And Maera, while very anxious to please us, is still so very excitable that sometimes she forgets how to listen, and in the process forgets her manners and does things like jumping up on us, nipping (though gently) at our hands, etc. etc.

But it is working very well.  Maera is still excitable, though we are slowly starting to get through to her, and she's starting to look to us for cues.  If I get a milk bone out of the "treat closet" for her, her butt instantly hits the floor into a "sit" as she anxiously awaits her treat.  This is a vast improvement over launching herself airborne, sometimes at my head-height, to get the treat ASAP.  And Argos is still stubborn.  He still doesn't really WANT to learn to do all of these things, but he's doing them.  And in class, he just lights up and enjoys showing off when he has either me or Jeff all to himself (the other has Maera and is all the way across the room, with several dogs in between.)

I think what I like about the rewards-based, clicker training, is that the dogs really ENJOY learning.  They love class, because they get gobs of treats.  And it's really helping Maera get over her fear...  the first couple of classes were spent with her tail between her legs and not letting anyone besides me or Jeff approach her but slowly, very slowly, she is starting to wag her tail at the other dogs, and sometimes she even lets other people approach her without shying away.

I've read some additional manuals, guides, whatevers, to training, and am just impressed by the amount of knowledge that is out there about training the dogs.  But I am also starting to see that there are some differences in opinion on how to train dogs...  many differences in opinion and approach.  I won't go into very many of the particulars, because I don't want to make it sound like I'm condemning anyone for choosing different training methods than we're using.  All dogs are different, so different approaches are no doubt warranted.  My opinion is that if the dogs are learning, and they are happy, then the approach isn't  important.

But there are certain things that I've chosen to reject in THIS HOUSE.  I can certainly respect that other people have chosen differently, and can see valid reasoning behind it, though.  One light-hearted example:  many of the training guides (not in our Saturday training sessions)  say to keep the dogs off of human beds and human furniture at all times.  That to allow them to be so elevated gives them ideas that they are higher in the pecking order than they are.

I say "meh" to that.  At least with my dogs.  I don't notice them trying to establish their authority over me even on their less than perfect days.  I want them to be comfy.  I want them to know that this is THEIR home too.  They don't just take up space.  They live here.  If one ever challenged me for my place on the bed, then they would lose bed privileges, but until then, as said before, "meh."

Not to mention, I would get heartily sick of listening to the sad violin music every time I tried to shoo Argos off of the couch!

I believe that there is nothing in this world that he is so attached to more than the couch.  (Jeff and I being the happy exceptions to this rule, I think.)

Though Bit is equally attached to her "crow's nest" at the top of the kitty tower.

But anyway.  Here is to happy dogs (and cats.) May we always be able to balance our training with fun for them.


  1. Silver is my oldest and pretty set in her ways as well. When I found clicker training for Brut (3 year difference between them) Silver was pretty stubborn about learning new things too. Until she realized the amount of goodies involved. :)

    Glad you found something that works for you and that classes are going so well.

    Maera sounds like such a card!! Bounding over to get treats. Brut is my hyper boy and when he was a puppy, clicker training stopped him in his tracks. It was like a miracle.

    I agree. The more dogs on the beds and couches the merrier!!

  2. Pearl and I are doing a clicker training obedience class right now as well and I can't say enough about how great clicker training is. I am glad you are having such good results.

    I also let Pearl on the furniture. Especially with skinnier/bonier dogs I think they like to lie on soft places instead of the hard floor(she had her own bed but she chewed it up and destroyed it). Plus, we like cuddling with her :)

  3. My four need to get back to obedience lessons!

    Stop on by for a visit

  4. I totally agree with you. Rubie sleeps on/in our bed, lies on our couch or chairs and walks in front of us using her 7 metre retractable lead.( During obedience training she knows she must "heel"). Never have I found that giving her these privileges made me feel like "she's the boss" - she knows she must listen to what I want her to do, and that I rule the roost (of her anyway). Honestly, I would miss her warm sweet self if she didn't share "bed time" with us. The only down side of sharing our bed for her is that she is kept very clean - that's the deal!! ;-)

    Rubie's mum

  5. We have really enjoyed clicker training with our dogs. They've responded very well to it, and it's a fun way to start teaching them tricks, too! I'm glad you're having so much fun with it! :)

  6. Admittedly, Sheba came to me mostly trained, but there was still work to be done. She is and was very responsive to me. I rather lucked out in that department.

    And not letting pets on furniture? How else am I going to cuddle a hound? Not to mention, nothing beats waking up in middle of the night to see a rottie posterior aimed right at you and the distinct sound of flatus...

    Ah, the joys of hounds...

  7. Many a time can you find my wife and I struggling for room on the love seat because two boney butt hounds have taken over the large couch. Usually they leave room for me to squeeze between them.. but not always.

  8. I have to agree with you about the bed and couch issue. I think you know your dogs and would nip it in the bud if they were to challenge your position, but I can't see denying them a comfy spot to sleep if it's not causing an issue.

  9. That's exciting that the classes are going well! :) We agree about saying "meh" to the bed and couch issue...

  10. I say meh to the no furniture rule too. I know I'm just another member of my loving pack and don't have any special designs on being leader Sheesh ;)

    Waggin at ya,

  11. Let's get things in perspective. When a dog looks as good as Argos does, color-coded as he is with the couch and all, Argos gets pride of place. End of story.