Thursday, July 21, 2011

Basic class at the shelter

By way of continuing education, I have been assisting with Basic Manners class at the Washington Humane Society. Great to see the same material, taught slightly differently. Its impossible to watch a class taught by another trainer and not learn something new and useful. 

For instance, trick training! What better way to liven up a basic training class than to throw in a trick or two? Tricks are also wonderful ways to channel doggie energy and provide mental stimulation and exercise. In my opinion, tricks are as important as any basic training, and for the same reasons--they help build the joyful human-pooch bond, cement positive human leadership, and add to your repertoire of "favors" to ask for in exchange for something you want your dog to do. 

And my favorite reason: for fearful or shy dogs, a trick can become a huge confidence builder, a way to bounce out of scary situations. Teach a dog a trick she really enjoys--like Sit up and Beg, High Five, Speak, Whisper--and you can use it to distract her when she's about to react to a trigger, or recover when she just has. 

The other really cool thing I learned in class: look how great Queen looks in her pink leash and collar! Amazing trick to remember for those hard-to-adopt black shelter and rescue dogs: deck 'em out in pink to bring out their luster and personality. Queen's people rescued her just a few weeks ago from Washington Humane Society's New York Avenue shelter. Now she's excelling in class and looking fabulous. 


  1. Queen is gorgeous to begin with but in that fancy new collar and leash she is even more stunning. It really sets off her glossy coat.

    I love trick training. It is one of my most favourite things to do with my dog. A friend of mine actually told me that her boyfriend got mad at her when she trained his dog to beg and play dead. He said it was "using the dog as entertainment". I just thought that was too bad. Teaching tricks has been one of the biggest relationship builders for my dog and me. I have no doubt she enjoys it as well.

  2. Isn't she? I love that dog.

    Seems to me my dogs are using me for entertainment--especially when we work on tricks!

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