Amber has been attending obedience classes at the RSPCA Animal Training and Behaviour Centre at Wacol in Brisbane every Wednesday night for 6 weeks.
I chose the RSPCA because I liked the way they train using only positive reinforcement techniques and each week we would learn a number of behaviours like sit, down, look, stay, wait, come when called, loose lead walking and some basic agility tricks.
Arriving on the first night Amber quickly noticed that she was the smallest in the class of three others; a Greyhound, Beagle and Mastiff. Amber was in heaven, you see she has quite a thing for big dogs. It would appear the bigger the better and it therefore goes without question that Amber would choose the Mastiff as the one she liked the most. She would wriggle around the floor and squeal with delight the minute he walked through the doorway and every time he glanced her way. I imagined her saying to him in those high pitches squeals ‘I really like big dogs…little dogs can be so annoying!’.
Amber was usually quite well behaved throughout the lessons and would sit on her ‘mat’ and eagerly await the arrival of all her new class mates. She would however sometimes chuck the occasional performance when she did not want to do what was asked of her, running backwards away from the lead, in circles while making high pitched sounds similar to a squeaky toy. She could also sometimes totally lose it, either crumbling into a total playful heap on the floor or worse performing her ‘frozen dog’ technique when things were getting just a little too scary or challenging.
On the second last night, I arrived to see that the trainer had placed various obstacles; hula-hoop, pool noodles, rubber mat and an empty plastic clam sandpit on the floor for each student. Oh this is going to be interesting since madam gets a little nervous around new things and may in fact display ‘frozen dog’ if challenged to go near them.
The idea behind the items on the floor was to encourage our dogs to move around unfamiliar objects and feel the different textures underneath their paws. Amber started off well, not bothered at all about the rubber mat. The hula-hoop was a bit of a struggle, with a trail of treats she finally did walk through it on ground level. The noodles were another story, since Amber has such little legs stepping over the noodles required more of a leap then a step, which defeated the whole idea of calm behaviour around new things, not panicked leaping and stumbling over them! I won’t even bother to mention how the clam went, since she could not even see over the lip of the thing!
Finally it was graduation night and I felt so nervous for Amber. Would she pass?
On arrival the trainer declared that we would be competing for bone prizes. The idea of the game was all in good fun to bring out some competition to see which dogs could do all the basic commands either the quickest or hold the position the longest.
I was feeling a little worried, the Mastiff was certainly Amber’s main competition! Did my little girl have it in her to win? Will she get stage fright? Would ‘frozen dog’ make an appearance? I quickly discovered Amber has quite a competitive streak. I have never seen her look so attentive so focused. She was like lightening speed when required and steady when necessary. She did not even glance once at any of the other dogs throughout the game. I could see she was in it to win it!
I am so proud to say, Miss Amber successfully graduated and took home 7 bones out of the 10!Follow Us!
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