Tuesday was a proud day in the Hawkins Household…Turk graduated from his intermediate training class at Petsmart!

"Mom, seriously, stop playing 'Pomp & Circumstance' on repeat, it's embarrassing!"

We enrolled Turk in this class after his scuffle with our first foster, Ginger Rogers, resulted in her taking a trip to the emergency vet. We realized that not only were we setting him up for failure by not introducing him to our fosters properly, but we had also become very lax in Turk’s training – and Turk loves/needs the attention and praise that comes with one-on-one training. So, we enrolled him in training at Petsmart with Tim the Trainer. Now, I know some people knock training classes at Petsmart or Petco, but after getting to know Tim through weekly HAHS adoption events, I knew that there was no one else I would rather have Turk go through training with. Tim is a big proponent of the teachings of Patricia McConnell (whose books were recommended to me by Aleks from Love & a Six-Foot Leash awhile ago) and he has a very calming demeanor that I knew would be perfect for both Turk and Daniel (who took him to the classes while I busily worked away on my thesis).

"You think these mad skillz come for free?! Psssh! You gotta work!"

The six-week class covered slightly more advanced skills than a basic obedience class, and we were lucky enough that the previously full class had several dropouts, resulting in Turk and one other dog being the only students. SCORE! That meant we basically had private sessions for the group rate! This allowed for Tim to really take extra time with Turk and help him work on a variety of issues. Tim was very patient with Turk, who often dissolved into a drooling, shaky mess when he entered the doors of Petsmart. Tim never forced Turk to do anything, which would have further reinforced his fear, but rather, committed to slowly gaining Turk’s trust until Turk finally started to wag his tail when he would see Tim on Tuesday nights.

"I'm not scared...just...um...nervous."

Daniel committed to practicing diligently with Turk at home, because often Turk’s fear would paralyze him from practicing during class, and Turk quickly picked up on the skills. Some of the more advanced skills, like “go to your bed” and getting your dog to “wait” patiently while you circle around them, Turk already could do easily, and Tim encouraged Daniel to consider trying Rally Obedience training in the future. Basically, Rally is like agility training, but with tricks and commands as the “obstacles” instead of actual obstacle courses. We’re going to spend some time working on his fear and solidifying the commands he learned in the intermediate training, but we do plan on enrolling him in the advanced training class soon. It’s good for Turk and important for us to remain “lifelong learners” – and Rufus (and any fosters we take in) benefit from the training as well! So we are very excited about Turk’s achievement and look forward to taking another training class in the future!

"School's out for summer...or is it?"

Have you enrolled your dog in any training lately? If so, what is your dog learning about?