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Jo Ellen 01-18-2013 10:51 AM

Spirit starts Obedience!
We're starting in on Obedience training this Monday. Oh god I'm nervous. I'm afraid we might get kicked out :blush:

So I'm starting this thread as kind of a journal, our first formal class. Many stories to come, I am sure!


Jo Ellen 01-22-2013 10:05 AM

Spirit had his first formal obedience class last night -- we didn't get kicked out!! :D

It seemed like a large class to me, 15 dogs probably, all types, sizes and temperaments. We were some of the first to arrive so we got to watch the dogs come in. Spirit gave one dog an unfriendly bark and we promptly became the honorary first member to hold the lemon juice thingamajig. The trainer squirted lemon juice into Spirit's mouth and gave me the evil eye LOL, and Spirit didn't bark at all after that. Hmmmm...lemon juice? Really? Well it worked so we'll leave it at that :) Then 2 german shepherds came in with a kill attitude :eek: and they got the lemon juice thingamajib too LOL

To start the class, the trainer lined us all up against the back wall, very close to one another with us separating our dogs ... it was really quite remarkable to me how much control and calm there was in the room. HOW does that HAPPEN! The trainer has 30 years experience, lots of involvement with German shepherds ... she's amazing, really amazing.

Only give the command one time - Rule #1!

We practiced standing still and sit; heeling and sit; and down beside us. This was already familiar to Spirit but it was challenging for him being in this new environment. He did fantastic though. Much of the time, while we were listening, he was laying down beside me which indicated to me he was feeling relaxed. He made me proud :)

4 German shepherds in the class. I was very pleased with Spirit's temperament. One GSD was a bit timid, the other two were kinda mean, seemed like to me. One of them growled at the trainer -- she calmly walked over to the owner, asked him if he was aware of it, he said yes and she flatly said, "I expect you to correct him for that." End of discussion!

We stayed afterwards to watch his littermate, August, in the intermediate class. August is going into the show circuit, he's so beautiful. But you know what? Spirit has more brains ;) He sat and watched all the dogs through the entire class and was very well behaved. We will be in that class one day.

It is rather tense to be in a room with so many unfamiliar dogs. Still shaking my head about the lemon juice, would never have thought of that on my own. She recommended it for when your dog is barking inappropriately. You tell them to hush or be quiet, and if they continue they get a squirt of lemon juice. One or two barks is good, that's what dogs do...but when you tell them to be quiet, they need to know you mean it.

This trainer has a lot of experience, 30+ years of training and is heavily involved in the German shepherd breed. I like her :)

swharshbar 01-22-2013 10:19 AM

Years ago I took my GS to a training class... mostly for socialization more than training. He had most of that down pretty good. There was a dog in the class, a Great Dane.. beautiful dog... hilarious dog... When the dog was done "working".. he would just lay down and NOT get up. He didn't listen at all.. wouldn't walk right, wouldn't come when called, just a lazy loveable giant...

The class had a good laugh over his antics. Funny part was he'd do the activities if the trainer grabbed his leash.. but would all but go dead on the leash for the

Enjoy the training... I enjoyed the classes I took.

Bear GSD 01-22-2013 10:27 AM

Great job Spirit! Looking forward to more training stories :D

Jo Ellen 01-22-2013 10:52 AM

The two smallest dogs, one was a beagle, the other a 1oz something or another ;) -- they threw the biggest fits when the trainer tried to make them sit or go into the down position. I thought that was interesting, one even tried to bite her.

The two "mean" GSD's, I think they were working lines, not sure ... they made me nervous. I was afraid when I got Spirit, my first GSD, that I would have a mean dog like that. But clearly I don't.

I came away from the first class feeling very comfortable with his temperament. I was quite pleased with that, very reassuring. Not that I don't watch out for him still. I mean the exiting the building part at the end of the class, that was tricky. I stayed behind and waited for the crowd to clear. I don't like unfamiliar dogs in tight quarters togeter. Am I wrong about that? Too much to look out for and too easy to miss something that could be potentially quite negative. When we were standing beside one of the mean shepherds in class, I was constantly vigilant to break eye contact if it occurred ... hard to manage that in a crowd. You know?

Jo Ellen 01-22-2013 12:21 PM

More reflections on our first class. Some of the stuff was brand new to me.

Choke collar -- never ever used one of these. It seemed to be very effective though.

No treats for reinforcement -- trainer doesn't use treats at all for the first level off obedience. She introduces them in the intermediate class, but not consistently.

Any thoughts on these two things?

Jo Ellen 02-05-2013 02:44 PM

We missed Spirit's 2nd obedience class, I had the flu. We went to our 3rd class last night. Spirit didn't get any lemon juice :)

He was very well behaved and attentive, relaxed too! Hah, until the trainer took him to the center of the room to demonstrate stand from a sit position :eek: He looked like I feel when I'm giving a speech LOL. I think that's the first time someone besides myself has been at the other end of his leash.

That WGWL shepherd wanted to eat him again, gotta stay away from her. Her name is Allie.

The trainer said to me, in front of the entire class, that she expects more from Spirit because he's a German shepherd! LOL, no pressure there!

One problem we keep running into is sitting for any length of time. He would rather lay down. Our project for this week is to accomplish a 1 minute stay in a sit position at the end of a 6 foot leash.

I sure get a kick out of the other dogs there. This trainer can take what appears to be a completely unmanageable dog and have it performing perfectly in a matter of minutes. She makes it look so easy. I can't even remember how to turn right, or lead with my left foot LOL

Training the trainer ;)

gmcwife1 02-06-2013 09:44 PM

WTG Spirit, no lemon juice :D Keep up the good work Spirit!

Nita is a yr old and we are in a CGC class. We have a mix of different dogs too. It's fun to watch the different breeds :)

llombardo 02-06-2013 11:00 PM


Originally Posted by Jo Ellen (Post 2896234)
One problem we keep running into is sitting for any length of time. He would rather lay down. Our project for this week is to accomplish a 1 minute stay in a sit position at the end of a 6 foot leash.

How did she tell you to do this? Mine does it, but we trained with treats, so I'm interested in knowing what they told you to do. I'm interested to hear how this works with distractions. You can do it:) In the classes we took it was flat collars only(no prongs or choke collars) and treats were allowed. We also eased into the longer sits/downs stays.

Jo Ellen 02-20-2013 11:30 PM

Spirit got some high praise from the trainer on Monday ... she said Spirit and one other dog in the class were doing the best!!

Now we're working on "come" and more of the sit/stay and down/stay on a long lead. More figure 8's with the "hurry" and "easy" command, more heeling.

Llombardo, first we started the sit/stay with me directly in front of Spirit. If Spirit broke the position, I would put him back in place and repeat the command, as many times as necessary. Once we got that part down pretty good, we increased the distance to 6 feet. Same thing...if Spirit breaks the position, I put him back in place, repeat the command and walk back to my position. Lots of praise is the only reward for this class. We'll start with treats in the intermediate class.

I do so worry about some of the dogs in that class, the ones that are DA. I don't allow Spirit to focus on these dogs at all, I don't know why we always end up standing next to them :o I worry the owners will lose control and their dogs will get loose. The trainer will not even handle one of them. One is a Samoyed mix, the other two are GSD's.

I always come away from class being very pleased with Spirit, not just how quickly he learns and how smart he is, but that he has such a good temperament and how easy he is to handle.

I'm going to continue with obedience training year round. I love this trainer, and I love the feeling of Spirit and I being a team :wub:

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