Eden at school: Week two

Guion came with me this week for Eden’s second time in obedience class. This week, we went over the distinctions between capturing, luring, and shaping, and largely practiced teaching her how to go to her mat/a place in class.

(And here are some bad photos of us working with her in class…)

Eden in class | Doggerel

She didn’t show any fear about being in class this time, but she was VERY excited that there were other dogs in the room. We set her up in a corridor behind an ex-pen with sheets over it, to block most of her view. She would still get distracted from time to time, but overall, I was proud of how she was able to maintain focus on us, particularly considering her adolescent stage. (The fact that she was desperately hungry also helped! Train on an empty stomach, people!)

I always love this second week of class, because you get to discover what kind of dogs everyone has (since dogs aren’t brought to the first session). There was Willow, a beautiful, smart little spaniel mix*; Tessa, a giant all-black mix, who really just looked like a very tall, leggy flat-coated retriever; a one-eyed all-white American bulldog; a coonhound in a Thundershirt; a wire-haired fox terrier; and an extremely vocal Wheaten/Great Pyrenees mix (crazy looking! But cool) who had a hard time calming down.

(*I felt especially charmed by Willow. She was only 20 lbs., and seemed so darling and responsive. Part of me was all, “OMG. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a tiny dog??” Don’t tell the shepherds. Sometimes I have those thoughts.)

Eden in class | Doggerel
Guion loves working with Edie.

Eden also served as the demo dog for teaching a dog not to jump on people (one of her favorite hobbies whenever any human enters a room). The first dog that Erin, the instructor, chose for this exercise showed no inclinations to jump on her. I raised my hand. “We have a jumper!” I said. And Eden didn’t disappoint. But she also figured out the game pretty quickly, and within a few trials, she was sitting politely, even when Erin beckoned Eden to jump on her.

Eden in class | Doggerel
I’m trying to work with her on loose-leash walking in a tiny space. Not successful.

We have lots to practice this week for homework, but Eden loves interacting with us (and truthfully, the food) and learning new things, so she’s a joy to work with. The tricky part now has just been keeping Pyrrha sufficiently distracted in the yard or in another room. It can be hard to work with Eden without Pyrrha getting agitated/upset that she can’t play the training games too.

Multi-dog people: What are some of your favorite tactics for training one dog when you have other dogs in the house? How do you keep the other dogs from getting antsy?

16 thoughts on “Eden at school: Week two

  1. This reminded me just how much I miss structured classes. I have three dogs and training is a nightmare in our house. I have yet to find a truly successful way to work with one without the others going mildly insane. I pretty much have to send my hubs out back with two while I take the third to the front of the house. Forgot trying to train when I’m home alone. I hope some of your readers have good suggestions because I could use the help, too!

    1. 2 is crazy enough for me; I can’t imagine 3! Bless you. 🙂 Yeah, I think separation is the key. I’m just having trouble figuring out solutions to keep the separated dog happy/content.

      1. What about frozen Kings with something super special in them that they only get when you’re working with the other on training?

    2. Oh you’re not the only one! I also have three dogs and find training a nightmare! I love them, but sometimes daydream what it would be like to only have one dog. Think how easy training sessions would be!

      What I’ve been doing is either going downstairs (we have a gate at the bottom of the stairs) and working with one dog down there, or putting two of the dogs down there while I work upstairs with one. Or I put two of them in the backyard, but it’s only a two of the three that can go. The third dog is a fence jumper than cannot be trusted in the backyard unsupervised, and she either hangs out downstairs or in a crate.Sometimes I will go into a bedroom/the office and shut the door.

  2. Hey Abby,
    As I mentioned on your multi-dog post, I’m currently fostering an english cocker spaniel (you know, in case you’re serious about that smaller dog thing 😉 ) and what I do is keep training short, switching back and forth between dogs, so that they each learn that if they want their turn they have to wait quietly.

    I’ve also taught my shepherd a pretty solid “go to bed” and stay there command, so we practice that while I’m training the little one sometimes (she goes to bed and stays there and gets reinforced periodically while I’m training the little one).

    It’s not easy and it took me a while to fall into a rhythm, but once you get it down you’ll be solid 😉

    Also worth a thought is this post, over on Susan Garrett’s blog: http://susangarrettdogagility.com/2014/01/junior-handling-reporting-on-puppy-peaks-training-month-4/

    She teaches the dogs to wait on a table (same idea, to me, as the bed).

    1. That’s smart! Thanks for these great tips, Melissa, as always. Pyrrha’s “go to mat” cue could definitely be strengthened; she is also sooo food motivated, so it’s really hard for her to sit still if someone else is getting treated. Thanks for your comment!

  3. We used Kikopup’s method for training multiple dogs:

    Now Kasper will lie on the couch whilst we train Zoey, as he knows that it’s totally worth his while! 🙂

  4. The best a maybe most obvious way to train more than one dog at a time is a really good stay. Once they have stay down, it is fun to do exercises where you have them both stay and then call them by name, adding an extra challenge to the other dog to not join the dog you called. Then do heeling and even running and playing around the other dog. It’s great to teach impulse control. Reward the dog who is staying put with treats and praise, even if you want them to continue staying put so they will learn that breaking their stay is not the only way to get a reward. Have fun!

  5. “a coonhound in a Thundershirt” – that phrase made me giggle to myself. As someone who has yet to meet a coonhound that didn’t need a Thundershirt, I can imagine the poor guy/girl and his/her anxiety during a training class. Crazy hounds 😉

    In other news, it sounds like training is going so well for your puppy. Hooray for a girl with some smarts!

    1. Good point! I have never thought about that, but I think you’re right; I know a lot of anxious hounds/hound mixes. I wonder why that is. And thanks — we are happy to have such a confident, bright little girl, but she certainly keeps us on our toes! Pyrrha is now the one we don’t worry about as much. 😉

  6. I’m glad to hear Eden is doing well! As I said in a comment to Morgan, I’ve found training with three dogs in the house to get rather crazy sometimes. I LOVE all the tips in the comments. Thanks for the post!

    1. Yes — I can’t imagine three! You sound like you’ve found a strategy that works to train, but I agree; it’s so much harder to make yourself take the time to train when you have two or more to manage.

      1. I enjoy training, but also find it tedious. I think it’s because it’s a short session for them, but not for me! And I’m usually doing a variation of the same thing three times.

  7. I keep vowing that I’ll video my husband while he’s training two or three dogs at a time. It’s like a crazy three ring circus, but he absolutely will not put one or two of them up. I prefer putting the dog I’m not working with in a crate with a Kong that will keep her busy until I’m done with the other dog. We also work out of sight of the other dogs when we practice, too. I don’t do long training sessions because the hounds shut down on longer ones, so generally, that’s not a huge problem for us.

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