Back to School

No, I’m not going to weigh in on the question of whether schools should open for in-person classes this fall. But Gracie and I are enjoying being back to school – dog school, that is.

Gracie’s last week of her Ph.D. level Canine Life and Social Skills (C.L.A.S.S) is this week, and we’ve had a lot of fun with that. For whatever reason – likely boredom in general – Gracie has been class clown a couple of the weeks, alternating with the other dog in our class, who took over that role for one of the weeks where Gracie was behaving well. With just two dogs in the class, and our instructor, it has been a lot of fun and the dogs get a lot of workout time. Both of the dogs are at pretty much the same skill level, so we have fun pushing them a bit and seeing what they can do.

I am back student teaching, which I am really enjoying. I’d forgotten how exhausting teaching can be, especially when you haven’t taught a given class before. B., the studio owner and instructor, is doing all the teaching of new skills for now, and I do reviews each week, which works nicely. Gracie comes along as a demo dog, which she likes. And the class is a puppy class – so what’s not to love??

There is a lot for me to learn still, and I get questions sometimes that I don’t have answers to. Luckily, B. is right there to jump in, so I am learning as she responds. One of the class members that I was trying to help today kept giving the cue (command for those of you outside dog circles) repeatedly, and I was suggesting that repetition isn’t helpful. The dog basically learns that he or she doesn’t need to listen to you if they become accustomed to having you say “come” five or six times before responding. This part I know, but what I didn’t come up with quickly was what to do instead…hoping to rectify that next week.

My teaching experiences have all been with people, and luckily a great deal of it has been interactive work – exercises and such, which helps right now since everything is interactive in a dog training class. But learning to watch what’s going on with 6 different dogs sort of at the same time will take some practice.

Lots to learn, all of it fascinating and fun. I come home from class tired right now, just trying to absorb all of it. I’ve helped with two different classes so far, and it will be interesting to see if it is easier next time I get the chance to student teach the same material. I suspect it will get simpler and I’ll have more and better answers as time goes on. I hope so anyway. In the meantime, I’ll just keep stuffing my poor little brain as full as it can get.

9 thoughts on “Back to School

  1. Deb, it is so exciting to know you are teaching. It is very rewarding to watch the pups and owners grow each week.
    Gracie, you have to love this silly girl! Her spirit keeps us all smiling and laughing. We all need this!

    1. It absolutely is fun to watch the pups and people grow, and really fun when the lightbulb goes on for dog or person and they start to get things. And Gracie is a fine goodball when she wants to be! Always creative…

  2. Aw, what fun! You’ll get the hang of it! And, yes, it’s tiring, but it’s a rewarding exhaustion. ❤️

    I remember – way back in 2012 – having to take over the beginners’ class at our local shelter for my mentor a few times, completely on my own. It was when I was doing the externship portion of my dog obedience training instructor course through the Animal Behavior College. It was fun because I already knew the “regulars” who had been coming every week at that point, and we were all learning together as well. I remember we had one pup who was extremely shy with other humans as well as other dogs, but Julie (the instructor/my mentor) worked wonders with that little one. By the end of the 8-week course, she was taking treats – albeit cautiously – from everyone in the class. And it was that experience that taught me – more than any other – that not all dogs are happy to meet all people. My first dog, Kissy, was shy with strangers, too; but I was uneducated about dogs back then. And Callie and Shadow loved almost everybody (except our next-door neighbors who were and still are a-holes).

    1. Each dog is an individual, and you gotta respect that. But so nice when you can help them overcome whatever made them shy or scared in the first place.

    1. Those gray cells are getting grayer all the time…stimulation is definitely necessary!

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