Today was Embers first class with her trainer Rebecca Letson!
Rebecca got us novice puppy owners started by giving us a foundation to start with and a path for Ember to follow in her training. Before, we felt a little lost even though we had great books at our disposal and lots of advice from several sources about training puppies. It's one thing to read or hear about it and quite another to see some of the fundamentals in action and witness demonstrations as to how they will eventually lead to the rest of the things we would like to.
Our first steps toward heel! up until today we have done little to no "heel" work with Ember. Most of her training has been sit, down, stand and place. So today we started some of the initial lead work that leads to heel and we will continue to condition her into the action everyday.
We worked on seperating "sit" from "down". Somewhere along the way Ember began to occasionally attach sit and down together when she became confused... offering each in turn until she recieved a treat. She knows the difference but having put her in a down from sit far too often has created a small obstacle when she gets a little mixed up. She would occasionally default to down from a sit if a command was given, regardless of the command. She's a bit used to doing sit then down then sit then down. So we began working each command seperately. After returning home and using her dinner for treats we have seen a lot of improvement and refinement on her sits and downs in just one evening!
working on her "off" switch: As our final bit of homework we will be working with ember to relax when we want her to with a physical command. We place our hands on her shoulders and wait for a small bit of relaxation... and then treat her, slowly increasing the pause time between treating or praising each day over the next couple months.
Probably one of the best things for us was gaining use of the "yes" tool which is delivering a solid confirmation to ember that she has done something right... whereas before "good girl" was serving as both confirmation and praise. Now Ember knows when she has completed the task correctly... and praise won't sound like we are confusing her by repeatedly confirming her action and not offering more treats. Already we can see Ember understand and respond to the confirmation in a way that she never reached with "good girl".
We learned more than just commands and good foundations... we also learned that we ought to pull out the camera and take a few measly pictures once in a while... we're sorry! we were listening far to intently to remember to snap a few photos. Ember will be getting another private puppy class before christmas, we will try to let the photographer loose this time.