Back to school

Zoe 'n Me {a dog blog} Back to School | Jordan benShea | Santa Barbara, California

Hi! It’s been a while since you’ve been here.

To be fair it’s been a while since anyone’s been here because this is astoundingly my first post in almost a month, jeez! I of course blame Summer and the long days full of sun that have my desire to be on my computer versus out taking advantage of nature seriously minimal. How have you been? Zoe and I have been busy having a blast, lots to fill you in on, but let’s start with school!

It is said that when a dog reaches 2 years they begin to get comfortable in their routine and start to challenge some of the training they received when they were puppies. While I have an unbiased view that Zoe is the best of the best at everything, she has at times began to herd small dogs and runners. This makes for some uncomfortable situations, because while she has never bitten a person or dog, people can get a little scared.

The combination of this new trait with Zoe being two encouraged me to enroll us in school. Yes, I said us because I really believe that there are no such things as bad dogs, just bad dog owners and it is my responsibility to make sure she isn’t making people or small toy breeds uncomfortable.

Zoe 'n Me {a dog blog} Back to School | Jordan benShea | Santa Barbara, California

Zoe surveying the scene and the competition

The class is a six week training course that meets once a week, so far we have been to two lessons. The trainer is a, well… let’s say… hhmmm… opinionated. Yes, for sure opinionated. The first lesson was mostly a getting to know the dogs, there are seven in our class. She let you know right off the bat if she thought your dog needed a prong collar, she looked at Zoe and said “oh yes, for sure your dog.” When I said I would think about it, the look shot my way was very disapproving. But that’s okay.

Then I was told that I could absolutely not train her on my right side, I had to train her on my left, that there was no way I could pass the class with her on my right. Okay dokie, left it is. A few moments later another disapproving look was shot my way at my choice in using a slip collar leash. I was told in no uncertain terms that it would NOT WORK AT ALL. Again, that’s okay she is entitled to her opinions, and technically I am paying to to hear them.

As an overachiever and one that likes to be in the front of the class and an A student, I was failing my first group dog training class on track to get a F. I had to get this under control and fast. Zoe, of course, could feel my concern.

Zoe 'n Me {a dog blog} Back to School | Jordan benShea | Santa Barbara, California

Um, down you silly dogs, you go down you get treats, pretty simple

Up next was heeling, sitting and going down. YES, I thought inside, this is our opportunity to come from the inside track and steal the other dogs thunder, this is where we will shine, this is where we will beat every and… oh… um… right, it’s just dog training, not the olympics, got it. Yay this is where we can all do good!

When Zoe was a puppy I spent lots of time training her to sit, go down and come, the heeling thing we had been working on for a while. But I should step back and take a moment to say that Zoe has been the champion of sitting since day one. Since the first day I adopted her if she was unsure of something she would sit. A noise she didn’t recognize? Sit and wait until it became recognizable. Someone she wasn’t sure about nearby? Sit and wait to see how they react. Being fed a treat that was taking too long? Might as well sit that one out too. Through this sitting championship she also became a star at going down, so much so that with a single look I can get her to go down from standing.

Zoe 'n Me {a dog blog} Back to School | Jordan benShea | Santa Barbara, California

So when the trainer started the exercises, WE WERE READY! And let me tell you, we heeled, we sat and we went down like nobody’s business! We skyrocketed straight from a F to an A in no time flat. And by the time we left that first lesson we were walking tall with pride at being the best in the class. Okay fine, by our account, but isn’t that what matters anyway?

I went into the class with two goals; one to increase our bond, two to improve Zoe’s recall. My goal was never to come out with Zoe being a show dog, I mean come on my nature girl ain’t got no time for no dog show. So far both goals are being accomplished, but I recognize this is a process and together we are learning.

Now we are practicing, and practicing, and practicing. And together we are figuring out our comfort zone of training, and yeah for us, that doesn’t include a prong collar and we are both okay with that decision.


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