This past weekend marked the first of eight puppy training classes at our local PetSmart. We'd already read several books and visited many Web sites to learn about training dogs, but it was refreshing to have a chance to expose Baxter to other dogs and watch their behaviors as well. It also helped to see we weren't the only owners suffering through biting and the occasional accident on the dining room floor.
The first class was more of a training course for humans. Mike, the trainer, introduced us to the idea that maybe we're the cause for some of Baxter's bad habits. We even got a study sheet to remind us of things we might need to work on (tone of voice seems to be a big one). Baxter was very anxious at first, but once we walked him around the store and introduced him to a couple of the other dogs, he calmed down. I was surprised at how well he behaved. Of course, not to be outdone by any of the other dogs, he actually fell asleep during part of the lecture.
Our take-home assignment this week is to work on focus exercises using food rewards. So far, Baxter is a quick study. He does love the attention and his treats! He's beginning to recognize his name when I call him, but I think he gets distracted fairly easily. I've noticed if he's in the house, he'll acknowledge his name most of the time. If he's outside playing, forget about it.