Mojito’s First Obedience Class

by DFS-Pet-Blog on May 13, 2010

Mojito showing off his "sit" skills

Mojito showing off his "sit" skills

In his almost four months with us, our Chinese Crested Mojito has really started to come out of his shell. (Read other posts about Mo: Our New Dog and Mo’s Favorite Toy). Every time I bring him to work with me, he complains a little less and is willing to interact with people a little more.

When Mo’s feeling safe and calm, he behaves well and learns quickly. At home, he’s very good at sitting when asked, doing a little dance for a treat, and waiting for permission to dive into his food bowl. However, new people or dogs can leave him trying to nervously climb into my arms or even cowering and growling. I haven’t been sure how to proceed with him, not knowing exactly what he’s been through in the first five years of his life, but I definitely want him to be a little more independent and confident for both of our sakes! That’s why last week we went to our very first obedience class. 

My husband, Mojito and I met our new classmates in a grassy, fenced area next to a challenging-looking agility course. This first hour was mostly a meet-and-greet, letting the leashed dogs explore while our trainer, Kat, discovered the behavioral territories the owners wanted to cover. While Mo uncertainly eyed his fellow students (including a very polite, 100 pound Malamute and a very enthusiastic, also very large Weimaraner), I explained to Kat that I wanted to introduce him to new people and places, and learn new tips to help him become a braver, more socially capable dog.

An intimidating but very friendly classmate

An intimidating but very well mannered classmate

I was happy to see that Mo took to Kat right away, and was very willing to “sit” and accept dog treats from her, something he wouldn’t do for a stranger until recently. I learned to never push him into approaching a stranger, but to have the person go down on a knee, and pet the underside of his chin and chest if Mo doesn’t mind. I also learned that, even though I’ve tried not to, I’ve been babying him too much and have to allow him to handle new situations on his own without so many reassuring pets and hugs from mom!

Although Mo isn’t a puller, he has never learned leash manners, so Kat showed me how to reward him for walking nicely beside me instead of weaving around and getting tangled. She also explained how to get Mo to focus on me instead of the treat in my hand, which is a lesson I think will be ongoing…

Two new friends

Two new friends

Finally, Kat brought out her border collie puppy, who is about Mo’s size. Mo gave Sky a good sniff, and allowed her to sniff in return. He did very well with her until, asking him to play, she gave him a friendly but solid swat on the nose. At that point Mo seemed to decide enough was enough and that he needed another hug.

I’m really looking forward to our next class. We have lots to practice!

Here are a few quick articles about dog training:
Training with Treats
How to Choose a Dog Trainer
Basic Commands: Teaching Your Puppy

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

brittany May 13, 2010 at 7:34 am

Sometimes the big ones have the best manners! Beautiful pictures.

I’m having shyness problems in my Big Mix, Quick, too. I hope Mojito gets better about it!

Melissa May 13, 2010 at 7:57 am

Kudos Keri! Your Mo is the sweetest thing and I can’t wait to hear more about how his classes help his confidence. I can see the two of you running that challenging looking agility course in no time! Kat was our 1st agility trainer and she is fantastic.

Sherry G May 13, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Good to see another rescue pup going to obedience. Maddie (almost 8 month old miniature poodle) and I will finish our five week class tonight. She has done so well; I hope we get our certificate tonight. The first couple of weeks the trainer was convinced my pup had OCD or some other behavioral issues because she was so excited in the new environment. Maddie has calmed down a lot, but is still not quite as good with the commands in class as she is at home. Our class has only one other dog smaller & younger than Maddie; the rest are bigger like the St. Bernard who barks all the time, the chow/shepherd mix who barks too and a couple of other bigger very shy dogs.

Keri K. May 14, 2010 at 11:28 am

Thanks for the encouragement, everyone! Classes have really been positive so far. Mo’s improved tremendously on “down/stay” despite the surrounding distractions. I’ve also been really thankful that my husband has been attending, because then we both learn consistent ways to help Mo out… it’s not just ME lecturing!

Andrea Martin May 14, 2010 at 3:34 pm

I’ve had my two dogs in training classes for the past seven weeks and have been blogging about it also. It’s been an adventure, to say the least. My border collie, I’ve found out, could care less about all of it. She’s super smart and picks up on all the new information, but when it comes time to practice, if she doesn’t feel like it, then forget about it! My boxer mix is doing much better though and is so eager to please. I wish you luck with your training!

RonO May 18, 2010 at 4:47 pm

I think rescued animals are the best. We have four.

Puppy Crate Training June 3, 2010 at 4:03 pm

I commend you for trying to socialize your dog to new situations to get it to calm down and be a better behaved more well rounded dog. I try to tell people all of the time to take their new puppies everywhere they can think of to socialize them at a young age. Take them around kids, adults, schools, parks, shopping centers, etc…

Donna May 28, 2011 at 10:26 am

I love reading all the comments, we rescued a long haired Chahuahua, he’s almost 3, had him for three months, he’s definately a mamma’s boy, and wants to be the only child. I’m waiting for availabliity in a class so he can socialize. He thinks everyone is gonna hurt him. Any ideas ??

Keri K. June 1, 2011 at 8:22 am

Getting him into class will be a great step forward, Donna. In our classes, everything was done on a leash with plenty of space between dogs, so if Mo felt nervous about another dog we could just move away until he was ready to try again. The first few classes we were practically on the other side of the field! But having that weekly exposure to the other dogs slowly built up his confidence, and I learned how to help him deal with new or scary situations out of class, too.

Socialization is best when a dog is young, but it’s never too late to help an adult dog!

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