Friday, January 15, 2010

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Driven to Distraction

After the interesting experience at Waltz Fish Shak (illiterate restaurateurs), we headed over to the Lion's club for the first of our four official obedience classes with the SEGD trainer Jennifer (who was wonderful!). When we got there, we were happy to see that Bingo's brother Jim (with Kerry) was there and so was Blossom (with Caroline). As expected, as soon as he caught sight of the other dogs, crazy Bingo appeared. Jennifer was on top of it.

She gently told us that our goal for the class was to find the distance at which we could work with Bingo and he would listen to us with a slack leash but that he would also be aware of the other dogs. If we were giving him more then 2-3 corrections, we were to move back farther. If he did great, move closer. And keep doing that until we gradually got him to move into the circle of acceptance (although she didn't call it the circle of acceptance. I just made that up. 8-).

"Try not to think of it as banishment," she said, but it was still a bit hard to take (see circle of acceptance comment above ;-). Especially as there were several puppies all being nice and sitting in the circle. But there is no whining in obedience class, so we moved to the outer limits. Fortunately, some other puppies joined us in the outer ring.

[Photo of Cheryl standing against the back wall facing the camera with Bingo sitting beside her watching the obedience class.]

It was a surreal experience. There we were, in the back, watching a placid group of puppies walking in a circle, sitting and being nice, while Bingo and I played surreptitious guerrilla obedience training:

"Bingo, Sit. Good Boy." Gentle pat on the head. (We also learned that he gets WAY TOO excited and we have to be very calm when we give praise. So, make that zen surreptitious guerrilla obedience training.)

Sneak a look at the puppies.

Check Bingo. Is the leash slack? Is he watching? Inch forward.

"Bingo, Sit. Good boy." Pat, pat.

Check out the puppies. Is the leash slack; is he watching them? Inch forward.

Crap! Correction. Correction. Inch backward. Try again.

[ Photo of the back of Cheryl and Bingo. Bingo is now in a down stay and they are both about 10 feet closer to the obedience class. ]

We did guerrilla obedience training all night, slowly sneaking up to the main circle of acceptance puppies until we were about 10 feet away. Jennifer said he did a great job.

[Photo of Fred's legs walking towards camera and Bingo in a down stay facing the obedience class. Bingo is now about 10 feet away from the class! ]

This video actually shows success. Bingo is the closest he got to the other dogs all night. He maintained a down stay, was in full view of the other puppies and was watching them but there is a slack leash and he is making the decision not to be a butthead. Next week, we will try for 5 feet, but this process can't be rushed, so we'll see what he can do.


  1. Yay Bingo!!! He will be flying (in a controlled manner) up to wear the other puppies are in no time!

  2. Good job you guys! Totally been there done that!

  3. I'm really proud of him. We practiced with Willow tonight on the sidewalk. Fred would walk by with Bingo and I had Willow. It took several passes, but he got bored and could pass without a correction. 8-)