Thursday, January 1, 2009

Living happily with dogs

Dog lovers need to read more than one doggie blog... so go here and read about 31 doggie duties to do dutifuly for 31 days.

I told my own dogs what it said, and they agreed with everything but #20 - you'll see why.

I've always lived with dogs, and until about 6 years ago had never considered taking one to obedience class. But then our rescue sponsored obedience classes and I had a young dog, so I decided to take part. My dog loved it! She would get so excited when we'd pull up in front of the building that she couldn't sit still. From there we did advanced obedience and then agility - and we had great fun.

So, since these dogs have always been a part of my life, and since I had assimilated what I learned in obedience school into our daily lives, I hadn't been thinking much about the "commands" I give the dogs. I don't much like that word, by the way, but guess it's the one that fits.

Then our neighbor got a puppy and started asking me about how to train her, and I started paying attention to what I was saying and doing with my dogs. I was amazed when I realized how many commands they respond to, and how often I use some of them. Like "wait." I think I say that a lot! "Leave it" is another one - every time they start to harass the cat.

Now I'm hoping that we can find an obedience class somewhere nearby when little Freckles gets just old enough to pay attention.

The reason I never considered obedience class sure sounds silly when I think of it now... I had some notion that it would turn a dog into a robot, or make him lose his personality, or something. In truth, all it did was make us enjoy each other's company a whole lot more.


Mary said...

Hi, Marte - this is my first trip here, and I love your blog. That's interesting, why you had not previously considered obedience training. I never would have thought of those reasons.
I volunteer with a rescue, and owner retention of pets is a big problem. Shelters are full of 2 year old dogs that people got as puppies and never trained. I recently saw a statistic that 70% of people who buy or adopt a pet keep it less than two years.
Yet, it's very hard to convince new adoptors that they should take an obedience class. I don't really understand why people are so reluctant. In our area, I think cost may be a factor.
I'd be interested in hearing the details of how the rescue you worked with sponsored training classes.

Marte said...

Hi Mary,
Thanks for stopping by and for commenting. This is lots more fun when I have someone to visit with!

I agree - a huge reason why so many pets are abandoned is that they've not been taught any manners. It's the humans' fault, not theirs. Around here they generally dump them a little sooner - at about 6 or 8 months when they turn into unruly "teens."

We had a member who was a trainer and a vacant retail building that happened to belong to an old friend of mine - so we got permission to use it one winter. I don't recall how much of the trainer's income came back to the rescue, but our primary reason for doing it was to try to encourage dog training - for the reason we were talking about.

All we really did was spread the word and encourage people to come. It wasn't expensive - I think $50 for 10 Saturdays. But of course the classes were rather large.

The truth of the whole matter - that people don't want to hear - is that the training is really for them, not the dog. If we all learn to communicate with our dogs, instead of thinking they can read our minds, everyone would be happier.

You might look into grant money to sponsor a class so that it wouldn't have to be expensive for your new adoptors. Then get lots of testimonials from people like me whose dogs thoroughly enjoyed it. Convince people how much fun it is for both them and the dogs.

Jump in here any time - I love hearing from you!