Did I mention I am living with a pit bull? Yes, those supposedly viscous dogs you hear the most negative stories about. Skeletor is the sweetest and most lovable drool monster I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Wes rescued this pup about a year and a half ago. When we first met Skeletor he weighed about 35 lbs, had heart worms, misc. wounds, and no manners. Today, thanks to one of the most courageous and lovable men in the world he is over 65 lbs, heart worm free, and can shake a paw like a gentleman. Click here to check out Skeletor’s blog. See his before and after photos.
Recently, Wes enrolled Skeletor in doggy school at the Bold City Schutzhund Club. His teacher is Michael. I have attended a few sessions and realized that doggy school aint no joke! This serious business and is not only a learning experience for the dog but also for the owner. Skeletor has one more class to go and has improved tremendously. He may even move up to “advanced training.” They grow up so fast. =)
Michael has a lot of excellent advice and methods on how to turn your dog into a sophisticated pup. One thing he said that got me thinking was you should never have to repeat a command more than once. For example, if you say sit, then you should only say it once. Do not repeat yourself or the dog will just think he can wait until you say sit for the fourth time to comply! The dog needs to realize that you are only going to give the command once.
Well, I got to thinking about my students and classroom management. First of all, I teach more kids than Michael teaches dogs. However, I started thinking how much I repeat myself in class! I say sit down, please stop talking, focus, turn around, and take out a pen and paper probably a zillion times a day! I also give them a lot of praise and rewards when they do well and Michael emphasizes the importance of this for dogs too. My kids may get bonus points or chocolate and Skeletor may get chicken hot dogs but whatever.
Now, please don’t misconstrue what I am saying. I love my kids unconditionally and am not saying they are dogs. What I do find interesting is that just like teaching and classroom management, training dogs and their owners requires a lot of skill and the use of a variety of strategies that I knew nothing about. Dogs really are so much like humans. They crave structure, routines, and love just like you and I.
Lesson Learned: Professional dog training is extremely beneficial not only to the dog but also to the owner(s).