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The Graduate

March 22nd, 2012 | Posted by Emily in Doggies! | Ginger Rogers | Smiling from ear-to-ear! | Turk's Takeover

Tuesday was a proud day in the Hawkins Household…Turk graduated from his intermediate training class at Petsmart!

"Mom, seriously, stop playing 'Pomp & Circumstance' on repeat, it's embarrassing!"

We enrolled Turk in this class after his scuffle with our first foster, Ginger Rogers, resulted in her taking a trip to the emergency vet. We realized that not only were we setting him up for failure by not introducing him to our fosters properly, but we had also become very lax in Turk’s training – and Turk loves/needs the attention and praise that comes with one-on-one training. So, we enrolled him in training at Petsmart with Tim the Trainer. Now, I know some people knock training classes at Petsmart or Petco, but after getting to know Tim through weekly HAHS adoption events, I knew that there was no one else I would rather have Turk go through training with. Tim is a big proponent of the teachings of Patricia McConnell (whose books were recommended to me by Aleks from Love & a Six-Foot Leash awhile ago) and he has a very calming demeanor that I knew would be perfect for both Turk and Daniel (who took him to the classes while I busily worked away on my thesis).

"You think these mad skillz come for free?! Psssh! You gotta work!"

The six-week class covered slightly more advanced skills than a basic obedience class, and we were lucky enough that the previously full class had several dropouts, resulting in Turk and one other dog being the only students. SCORE! That meant we basically had private sessions for the group rate! This allowed for Tim to really take extra time with Turk and help him work on a variety of issues. Tim was very patient with Turk, who often dissolved into a drooling, shaky mess when he entered the doors of Petsmart. Tim never forced Turk to do anything, which would have further reinforced his fear, but rather, committed to slowly gaining Turk’s trust until Turk finally started to wag his tail when he would see Tim on Tuesday nights.

"I'm not scared...just...um...nervous."

Daniel committed to practicing diligently with Turk at home, because often Turk’s fear would paralyze him from practicing during class, and Turk quickly picked up on the skills. Some of the more advanced skills, like “go to your bed” and getting your dog to “wait” patiently while you circle around them, Turk already could do easily, and Tim encouraged Daniel to consider trying Rally Obedience training in the future. Basically, Rally is like agility training, but with tricks and commands as the “obstacles” instead of actual obstacle courses. We’re going to spend some time working on his fear and solidifying the commands he learned in the intermediate training, but we do plan on enrolling him in the advanced training class soon. It’s good for Turk and important for us to remain “lifelong learners” – and Rufus (and any fosters we take in) benefit from the training as well! So we are very excited about Turk’s achievement and look forward to taking another training class in the future!

"School's out for summer...or is it?"

Have you enrolled your dog in any training lately? If so, what is your dog learning about?

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15 Responses

  • avatar Debra says:

    Awesome job, Turk (and family!) We just finished our 6 week beginning puppy class and will be doing a couple of individual sessions before enrolling in puppy 2. Keep your fingers crossed for us1

  • avatar Lacy says:

    I think obedience classes are awesome. Nicole and I took both Toby and Denver through Purfect Puppy training and would never trade that experience for anything. Toby went through the preschool class, the intermediate class (twice) and the agility class. The skills he learned as a puppy during that training have been really valuable. Good job Turkey. :)

  • Great job, Turk!! And that’s awesome that a group lesson was basically private. :) We have a trainer coming over this morning to start working with Zoe on the resource guarding issue. Wish us luck! :)

  • avatar Cori says:

    Yea for Turk! No need to be embarrassed, your mama’s just proud! (there’s another very important graduation in the Hawkin’s household coming soon….right??)

  • avatar Kirsten says:

    Sounds like you found a great trainer, and I’m sure there are many at Petsmart. Training classes are so great for anxious dogs…if you have the right trainer. Fozzie’s been sitting in on my friend’s classes when we can make it, just to get used to being around other dogs and not freaking out. Not sure if he’s making progress, but we’ll keep going!

  • avatar tholupka says:

    Yay!!! Congrats to Turk!!

  • avatar Aleksandra says:

    This is so awesome, Em. I bet he’s carrying himself more confidently in general, too. And if he likes learning new tricks, I bet he will LOVE Rally-O — fun like agility but not as high-speed and stressful for nervous dogs. Fantastic!

  • avatar Emily says:

    Congratulations, Turk! I am totally embarrassed to admit our resident dogs haven’t gone through any formal training! I wish we would have gone right away. I think our dogs are wonderful, but they aren’t perfectly “obedient” when distractions are present and have reactive tendencies with different triggers. I feel really silly about taking them now, but better late than never, right?

    • avatar Emily says:

      I don’t think that it is ever too late to take your dog to a training class! I say go for it, and if you do, let me know how it goes! I’d love to hear about it!

  • Way to go Turk!! A semi-private group class is a great way to ease a nervous dog into training classes. I bet he’d love Rally-O. Parker and Skye haven’t been in classes since agility last year- bad human! I’ve been looking for a CGC class that fits in my schedule, but no luck so far. I hope Turk got a graduation present!

  • That’s awesome! Way to go Turk!!