Saturday, August 2, 2008

Obedience is Fun?

I never thought I would enjoy obedience classes. Sure, puppy classes are fun and a beginner class or two is okay - but as far as advanced classes are concerned, I never really had an interest.

Perhaps I had a preconceived notion of obedience. To me, just the word itself has somewhat of a militant connotation..."your dog needs obedience". "If you want to do agility you have to have obedience"...Can you tell I've heard this a time or two? :)

Peyton and I have taken obedience classes at SOTC regularly for almost two years now. And sure at first I took them with the goal of agility in mind, but now I actually really enjoy them. As with everything, it's what you make of it. Trust me, Peyton has no idea that we go to class to learn to be "obedient" him, we go to class to see our friends, get lots of treats and to have fun.

While we are certainly not advanced (we've been in intermediate now for um, quite a long time) - we're getting better. And it's been really neat to see how Peyton's progressed. He's still a clown, but he's come a long way from the pup who gave his instructor a wicked rope burn the first time we did a recall on a long-line. :)

As for agility - sure, obedience has helped, but it's not the golden ticket some think it is for success on the agility least not in my experience. Peyton's issues in agility are not because of his recall, or his stays, or his sits and downs. His issue is over-arousal - he just can't think when he's on the agility field...stimulus overload if you will. So I have to work on managing his arousal - not an easy task, but again we're getting there.

At one point I was told that Indy needed obedience too. She used to have a problem with running off and zooming in class - but what I eventually learned was that she wasn't being disobedient - she was stressed. Really stressed.

I'm rambling now, but I do have two points here. One, obedience can be fun if you make it fun! And two, obedience isn't always the answer to the dog that's having issues in agility. It might help...or it might actually make the situation worse if you're dealing with an issue like stress. The key is in knowing your dog - and instructors, don't be so quick to assume that obedience alone is the answer!

Anyway, to get back on track...Peyton and I just started on dumbbell work a few weeks ago and we're really having fun with it. Here's a few pictures of spotty boy showing off...

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