So, it was with much trepidation and a very hungry dog that we set off to Puppy School. Ruth – the dog lady – had instructed me not to feed him from midday Sunday in preparation for the 11am class on Monday. We were to bring 250g of gravy steak cut into one centimetre chunks to the class as rewards for good behaviour.
|Pip resting in his favourite chair after a full day's play.|
Ruth was a no-nonsense woman in her 50s who wore a red polo with the Kintala Club logo on it. She asked what we wanted from puppy school and I confessed to being a novice at the whole looking after a dog routine and really just wanted some tips. Then, on reflection, I said we’d like some help with jumping up and sit-ins.
She said we’d do basics to begin with and get to problem behaviours a bit later. As I predicted once Pip realised that Ruth had a seemingly unlimited supply of gravy beef, he was putty in her hands.
The commands were surprisingly complex – a form of sign language. Ruth explained that the signs would be more relevant to Pip than the verbal commands but that I should try and pair the two so he’d understand words such as sit, come, stay, etc.
Unfortunately, after puppy school Pip became a bit naughty, ‘mouthing’ D2 to tears on the way home. This is a disturbing turn of events because the last thing I want is for the kids to become scared of Pip.
I wasn’t sure whether the ‘mouthing’ was a result of having a full day’s play with Frankie or as a kind of breaking-out thing after the strict regime of puppy school. Whatever the case, I decided to ring Ruth the next morning for some advice. The idea, she says, is to avoid the undesirable behaviour in the first place. So, for example, if you know a prime time jumping up response is when you come home from being out, you have to make sure you’re armed with a treat and get him to sit immediately and reward him immediately. Looks like it’s smelly pockets for me!