So what do we do in our Training Classes? If you have never attended our classes and are reluctant to sign up because you are afraid we are going to shout at you and push your dog around, let me set your heart at ease and tell you about our classes. In the first place, the classes have to be enjoyable for both you and your dog. Surely, we all realize that dogs learn more readily if they enjoy the class and are rewarded for every effort they make to do what we ask them and show them to do. My reward is to see the expression on a dog's face when he understands what we want him to do and does it. His tail wags and he looks proud ... yes, he looks proud of himself! And we squeal with delight, praising and petting him too.
Our first class is always interesting because we are kind of studying the dog and trying to find out what he already knows. Most dogs already know how to sit and will sit on command. Most dogs do not know, however, that I want them to stay sitting until I tell them to do something else, and they stand up. So that is my next thing to learn, to stand up from the sitting position on command. So what they are learning here is to associate an action with a word. And we use the short, clear word 'come' and not 'come here' or 'come on'. The 'come' command is the most important command in all of the training. And we introduce that "come" word when he happens to be coming towards us anyway. The 'come' command should be accompanied by lots of praise while he is coming. Happy words like 'good boy', and 'yes', look what a clever boy he is' and we praise when he is at my knees, and give him a treat, and do not snap another command such as to sit when he has arrived. Only praise and petting, and the delicious treat which you pull out of your pocket when he has arrived - never bribe him to come by showing him the treat to make him come.
Well, this is about what we do in our first class. And our enthusiasm has to match the dog's temperament. The timid dog gets a soft voice, and gentle words of praise. The outgoing dog will react happily to a more enthusiastic response. from me. The important part is the happy easy-going attitude of all of us. Everybody leaves to go home looking forward to our next class.