God, I hope I never embarrassed Mom the way Levi did tonight. She took him to his first beginner obedience class and as they sat there waiting for it to start, he made a huge fuss crying, whining and barking in an attempt to play with the other six dogs in the group. He squirmed every which way when he was on Mom's lap and when she'd put him on the floor he'd pull so hard at his leash it's a wonder he didn't break her arm. No matter what she did she couldn't get him to calm down. He even bayed like a hound dog. A hound dog! Where did the little snot learn how to do that? All the other dogs just sat there looking at Levi like he was a wacko terrorist dog ready to attack them and rip their guts out. The instructor's helper finally brought over two screens to block Levi's vision and that helped a lot, sitting in the "bad boy" isolation booth. All of the dogs save one were under a year old but Levi was the only one who'd been to puppy socialization class and he was ready to wrestle and run like the wind.
When the instructor started the class she had everyone try what she called. 'settling.' As per the directions, Mom cradled Levi in her lap with a firm two-arm hold, ignoring the whining and squirming. The object was to say 'settle' when he got calm and relaxed for 15 seconds. Only then would she release the pressure of the hold and give him a treat. As soon as he'd get squirmy or whinny again, the hold would tighten back up and they'd start all over. The class all practiced this exercise about ten minutes and the transformation in Levi was dramatic. His periods of calm, 'settling' were getting longer and longer. The instructor said this is teaching dogs how to calm themselves down and eventually to do it on the command of 'settle.'
Then the dogs got ten minutes of play time. Levi excelled at this part while a few of the other dogs freaked out and hide behind their human's legs. And while they were playing the humans were instructed to grab their dogs every so often, say 'got you' and then release them again, telling them to "go play." The humans were also supposed to give the 'sit' command to any dog that came wandering over to them and if they did it to reward them with a treat. All but one dog had been working on 'sits' at home.
After play time the instructor took the dog that hadn't been able to do a sit at home and she demonstrated the proper way to do teach that and she taught the group what she called the 'name game' where the humans reward for eye contact from their dog.
Mom got a ton of homework but none like she expected to get from the class. Naive Mom she thought they'd be learning to heel right from day one. Instead, she's got to practice the eye contact exercise 100 times a day, do the 'settling' three times a day and practice a technique for teaching sitting that stretches the sit times out without using the word 'stay' just yet---that part comes later. Both Mom and Levi came home tired and took long naps. ©
Artwork by Jo Parry
Welcome to The Levi and Cooper Chronicles. I'm the 'Cooper' and my baby brother is the 'Levi.' We're not siblings in the literal sense of the word. He's a miniature schnauzer and I'm a miniature poodle but our differences go far beyond our breed. You see, I'm the famous angel dog who blogs from the