Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Training Day - Dun dun duuuuuuuun!

Well, I was just about to post something about Ava's new training gear and I realized that I hadn't mentioned it yet. I should fix that, right?

Last Saturday, Ava and I started a Canine Juvenile Manners class at a wonderful local trainer that I was referred to. I didn't think that I'd ever find a decent trainer around here - or any trainer aside from Petsmart for that matter, but now that I did, I wish I woulda found her sooner! The trainer is a golden breeder who shows as well as offering obedience, rally, and agility classes, plus boarding. I've never even found a good, ethical breeder around me, so I'm absolutely thrilled with Pine Mountain!

Ava's class is only 6 weeks long, but then again it was only $96 - so much better tahn other places around here that I'm sure would be, uhm, less-good. I really had fun, but it was really hard. Ava's so terribly ADD and she wants to play with everyone so badly that her attention span is just...nonexistent. She wasn't the oldest dog of the class, but at 14 months, she was definitely one of the older ones. There were six other dogs, adding up to my lucky number of seven so that's another good thing. Silly, I know, but it works for me! There was a gorgeous Dobe, a King Charles Cavalier, a Brittany (ohmygosh, I think Brittanys are the cutest little spaniels and I've never seen one aside from pictures before. I wanted to snuggle the little pup so bad!), a Mastiff puppy, a Miniature Schnauzer, an adorable little mix from the shelter. And, of course, a gorgeous Siberian Husky puppy with the most beautiful blue eyes. She was my personal favorite, but I might be slightly biased. Just a tad. Maybe.

Anywhos! Ava and the Brittany, Scout, spent pretty much the entire class trying to get to each other and barking back and forth. Next time, I'm going to position myself away from Scout because its too much of a distraction for both pups. But, of course, Ava reacted to everyone else too. She was just like a retarded goldfish in a bowl of glitter. It was crazy! The hardest part of the whole class was keeping her under control and keeping her attention. My arm was sore for a few days afterwards from just holding onto her leash so tightly. But apart from that, she knew the commands we were doing that day. She just chose not to listen to them too much. I mean, she's a husky and all, so I kinda expected that and I'm not upset over it, it was just a bit embarrassing and I know she can do so much better. She's so insanely smart and we communicate so well with each other, but she essentially threw it all to the wind. Granted, it was also the first class, so she was more confused than me, I'm sure. She was definitely more comfy than me though! I was so nervous and shy about it that I was having a hard time, but hopefully I'll come out of it. Not to mention the fact that the building doesn't have air condition, just fans and breezes. Ava and I are alike in the sense that we both have insanely low heat tolerances. At some point, our brains just sizzle and there's not any more synapses even attempting to work. We were both practically sizzling at the end of class.

Aside from the fact that it was really tough, I learned a lot during that first class. First of all - just because Ava can do something at home doesn't mean she'll do it when there's something more fun distracting her on the other end of the room. Secondly, the only thing worse than the smell of green tripe is burnt green tripe. I baked some treats for her to really keep her attention - namely in the form of beef heart bits and green tripe. And, yeah....totally smelled funky. I bought some liverwurst today though, on the advice of people from Dogster telling me how it was awesome for training, and it was actually nastier than dealing with the tripe. I can't believe people eat that stuff...It just made me sick to my stomach to deal with cutting it up some tonight. Ugh. Third, while the martingale collar is effective to keep her from slipping her collar (which is the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened in public with Ava...), it does nothing to deter her from lunging to try and play. The trainer saw that I was having issues with it though - she's really great at paying attention to everyone at once and fixing issues. She set me up with an Easy Walk harness or something like that. One of the harnesses with the ring on the front of the chest that causes the dog to turn as it pulls. It's absofreakinglutely amazing! Ava is definitely not a fan though. She has yet to slip out of it too, but she's trying. She'll do the buck, backup, pop, and wiggle move to try and shimmy out of it and run after whatever she's got her eye on. She's learning how the pulling works with it, and how the bucking works too, but its taking a while. She's not bucking as badly since the last time that she tried it she ended up throwing herself into a spinning front-flip where she landed on her back in the middle of the yard - and looked positively pissed about it. But she's learning to walk by my side. I'm still working on the clicker with it too, but she's just not terribly food motivated or toy motivated or anything motivated if she's on a walk wanting to go after something. We're working really hard on it though! The only downside was that it didn't come in pink, so I had to go with black and silver. Yes, I am that picky about pretty colors too...

Since I'm planning on continuing to at least one of the three agility classes offered at Pine Mountain - then maybe even on to competing if Ava has enough of a knack for it and enjoys it enough - I started looking into portable crates. If I haven't mentioned it yet, I have a tiny car. Think of something like a Hot Wheels car on steroids. Yeah. And Ava's wire crate has to be wedged into the trunk to make it fit, and even then you have to wiggle the seats up a bit to make the hatchback close right. Not that I don't love my car or anything, but its not terribly roomy. So I was pricing popup, soft-sided crates - and dying inside a little bit every time I saw how expensive they were for a dog of Ava's size - and I only found one that was really promising. Again, it didn't come in pink, but then again, the only ones that came in pink were really bulky looking and well over $100. I found one at CleanRun that I loved - big enough for Ava, really cheap, and very very compact. It's actually a few inches longer than Ava's regular crate at 40" x 25" x 25" - but when it folds up into a little circle, its 14" in diameter and about 2" tall. Very very awesome - and small enough to fit into my purse when I need it. I didn't buy it yet because I was waiting to get reimbursed for selling some textbooks online (-insert happydance here-). Then today, I ran to walmart for some liverwurst and I was passing by the pet's section when I saw the exact same crate, only $5 cheaper. So, needless to say, it came home with me tonight.

{ps - i love how you can see her tags so prettily here}

Its blue and red, so not so pretty, but Ava actually likes it. I was really surprised because I have a hamper that pops up something like that and she's definitely not a fan of it. But she walked back into the new crate like it was nothing - Snickers too even! Snickers has a terrible phobia of crates/pens/kennels/cages/etc so that really surprised me that he would even look at it, much less walk in and lay down. I'm teaching Ava to use it already too. Her wire crate is called her "box," and she knows how to get into her box on command, so this new one is going to be her "pen" so that it won't confuse her. She's pretty good at it so far! And perfectly comfy in it too. Now, if I could just pop it open without accidentally smacking myself in the face with it, I'd be just dandy...

Our next class is Saturday! I can't wait for it =]

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