Here’s Macy’s YouTube debut, showing off her newly-learned skills from her training a couple of weeks ago:
[That’s Kirk, our dog trainer friend’s colleague, working with her.] In the video, Macy demonstrates loose-leash walking and things like an automatic sit at the end of some walking. I love how she slowly (and perhaps begrudgingly) goes into the “down” position. They told us that she fought them tooth and nail on that all week, and Kirk was the only one who got her to do it. We’ve tried and haven’t had any luck, but we’re so pleased with the other improvements that we’ll just keep working on it.
One of our greatest challenges with Macy is that she has an incredible prey drive. She is such a little hunter, and cats are definitely her biggest enemies in the world. When we come across a cat while out on a walk, her whole body freezes and then she bays that loud beagle bay and pulls incessantly to try to get to the cat. In the past, I would generally just try to drag her away and I’d spend the rest of the walk fighting her as she yelped and whined and tried to get back to the cat. But now, after her training, she responds to a firm “No!” and a pull on her collar and then she just sits. We might have to do that correction twice, but it’s just amazing how we can redirect her attention, even when faced with an Evil and Dastardly Cat. (Her title, not mine.) She’s still pretty fixated on the cat, but at least she’s not annoying everyone within a one-mile radius with her bays, and she’s responsive to me when I tell her, “Let’s go,” so we can go on our merry way and enjoy our walk.
Macy was a BIG jumper (although thankfully only 20 pounds), and now she knows not to jump on people at all (and if she slips up and does a little jump, she responds immediately to a firm “no” and she goes into a polite sit). We’re also working on limiting the amount of “kissing” that goes on. She is such a licker. Sometimes it’s cute, and sometimes, not so much. I mean, I just don’t need my dog licking my toes when I’m trying to take a nap on the couch.
The biggest thing we learned from the training is to always give her the same correction. Before, we might yell, “Macy!” in a firm voice, or “No!”, or “Uh-uh,” or clap our hands, or say or do something else to get her attention. Now we know to just say, “No!” and she knows that that means to stop what she’s doing. After she stops the behavior we’re trying to stop, we are supposed to give her something else to do. Generally, it’s just telling her to sit, and then when she sits nicely we give her lots of praise.
All in all, the training was a big success. We’ve seen great improvements in her behavior, and Craig and I are working on being more consistent on our end. Now we need to try to implement some of the changes with Rocky. He is so stubborn and while we did take him to a basic training class when we first adopted him (8 years ago), and he learned the basics, he pretty much thinks he’s in charge and therefore feels like he can pick and choose when he listens to us. It’s definitely time for us to work on asserting our status as the pack leaders!