Pyrrha is going to school

In the front yard

This past week, I decided that it was time for our shy princess to go to obedience school. We have signed her up for a 6-week basic obedience course at Canine Campus, a local training facility.

I feel confident about the head trainer, who is certified with several training organizations and has trained with Pat Miller, who wrote one of my favorite step-by-step training books. I e-mailed with her about what she thought about Pyrrha’s suitability for the group class, since Pyrrha’s history with strange dogs is not a good one. She assured me that the dogs aren’t supposed to interact with one another, and a portion of the class is just teaching the dog to focus on you and not the rest of the room. Alternately, she said that if the group class turns out to be too overwhelming for her, we can funnel our payment for the class into either private lessons or another class. She said that shy dogs have often done well in her nose-work class.

I expected that I’d take more initiative training her at home, but I have been so busy lately in the evenings that I haven’t put in nearly as much time as I have wanted to. Pyrrha knows her name, “come,” “sit,” and “down,” but that’s it–and she really only responds to me; she won’t take any commands from Guion, unless it’s clear that he has something delicious in his hand.

That said, here are my basic goals for these next six weeks of training class:

  1. For Pyrrha and Guion to build a better relationship and for her fear of him to be mostly eliminated. (Guion will be coming to as many training classes as he can.)
  2. To jump-start my incentive to train with her on a more regular basis.
  3. For Pyrrha to be able to interact in a room with distractions, other dogs, new people and be able to focus on me.
  4. For Pyrrha to gain confidence.

Our first class starts next week, so you’ll be sure to hear lots from me on how that goes!

Has your dog gone to school? What was your experience like?

8 thoughts on “Pyrrha is going to school

  1. How exciting! I’m sure Pyrrha will do well. Elka was home schooled, though I wish we’d been able to find something close enough and convenient, if only for the doggie socialization. I’m pretty pleased with how I’ve done with her other than that.

  2. We’ve taken all of ours to class, well, Kuster is currently attending class and I suspect he’ll repeat basic obedience. Heeling on a loose leash is not the boy’s forte! lol Anyway, I’ve found it to be a great confidence builder for all of our dogs and even though we teach obedience to the 4H kids, I still need to go to a structured class with my own dogs. I just need the discipline to keep me working. I hope you and Pyrrha have a great experience with class! Most GSDs that I know really love working.

  3. I hope you and Pyrrha have a great time!

    I’m really big on working with a trainer. It keeps you accountable (I’m less likely to forget to do my homework if I could be embarrassed in front of others) and gives you fresh ideas.

    If Pyrrha likes to learn, it will be a good place for her to see that other dogs don’t have to prevent her having fun.

    I found group lessons less helpful for Honey because she was always the #1 student and we spent a lot of time waiting for others to catch up. But she’s doing great with her one-on-one training sessions at home. (And she loved nose work).

    My last dog, Shadow, was reactive to other dogs. And she did great in group classes. I would not have believed she could learn to be calm in that setting so it really boosted my confidence too.

    I hope Guion can take the lead on some of your training. It will really help to build his bond with Pyrrha.

    Can’t wait to hear all about your first class.

  4. Good luck with the classes! I’m sure Pyrrha will do great! She’s so beautiful!

    We had to work from private into a group class to get Abby adjusted to other dogs. Then at the end of each day, the trainer added a little socialization time at our request. Try asking your trainer if they’d allow it.

    1. That’s great advice; thanks for the tip! That sounds like it may be something that could help Pyrrha ease into a group class setting.

  5. Patricia McConnell (Orher end of the leash) mentioned (somewhere in one of her postings) that she had such a reactive dog that all classes were taken with this particular dog OUTSIDE the (in this case there was a fence) enclosed area. Comfort levels vary whether it’s a angry reaction or an over-the-top I “just gotta play with you, right now, NOW!”.
    Perhaps also meeting only one other dog at a time for just a few seconds (and not the whole group) using the treat of a lifetime,.billions of words of praise.and relaxing touch will help.
    I believe training should be frequently for very short periods for puppies and reactive dogs.
    Keep stress low and know when to walk away. also keep a nice light touch on the leash, as dogs can feel your stress in a nano second (ever before you do)!

    sorry. but you’ve got to make the time

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