February 21, 2015

Joey's first obedience class

Joey's first obedience class went pretty well last night! I chose this particular class because the trainer teaches positive reinforcement and he was recommended by the ASPCA when we adopted Joey at the shelter. There aren't many options for dog training where I live, so the drive was nearly an hour each way--thankfully, it's only once a week!

Jerry was working, so I took the kids and Joey on my own. When we first got there, I was pretty turned off by the fact that the trainer was smoking in the enclosed room where we were doing the training. I hate the smell of smoke, and I didn't want all of us smelling like it when we left, but we'd driven really far to get there. I just hoped that the training would be worth it.

Joey was the only "new dog" in the room, and there were probably about 10 dogs altogether. When we first walked in, Joey was doing great--he was very calm (but understandably excited).

I love how his tail gets extra-curly when he's excited, haha

Once a couple of other dogs started barking, though, he started barking, too. It was like he was taking cues from them on how to act in that situation. Once the barking started, then he was trying to lunge out of his leash.

The main focus of the first lesson was "sit and stay", which he's actually pretty good with at home. It was good to practice it in a room with a bunch of other distractions, though (dogs, people, and even cats). Yes, cats--I thought it was hilarious that there were two cats just chilling out by the door. Meanwhile, there are dogs barking and lunging, and getting all excited. It didn't phase the cats one bit! The dogs and dog owners were all standing around the perimeter of the room, and one of the cats just walks calmly through the middle of the circle of barking dogs to the other side of the room for a drink of water. I could only imagine Estelle in that situation! It would not have ended well, haha.

We did a "meet and greet", where each of us had to walk with our dogs around the room and give treats to the other dogs; but we had to make our dog sit and stay while we treated the other dogs. That part was kind of stressful for me, because I hate being the center of attention (not to mention that I was new to the group). I was hoping Joey and I would do it perfectly and be done quickly; but I blanked on just about everything the trainer instructed us on, so he pretty much just used all my mistakes as examples for the rest of the class. Glad I could help! ;)

I really did like the instructor, and I am happy with what we learned. I've been practicing it today with Joey, and he's doing really well! The instructor used Joey to demonstrate most of the stuff he was teaching, and Joey listened to him really well. He recommended that I get a different collar for Joey, though, because he slipped out of his three times during the class (even though I kept tightening it). I bought the one that the trainer recommended today, and it's just called a "no slip" collar.

It's just like a regular collar, but when you pull on it with the leash, it tightens a little--not like a choke collar, but just tight enough to where it can't slip over his head.

He also said that Joey is going to be difficult to leash train, because he's fast and he pulls SO HARD on the leash. We learned how to practice getting him to walk with a loose leash, so I'm going to work on that all week.

The class ran long--it started at 7:00, and we were supposed to be done at 8:30, but it didn't get over until 9:15! The first class was really helpful, and I'm looking forward to the next one. I just hope that Joey is as obedient during class as he is when training at home ;)

I was completely exhausted when I got home last night. The class was mentally and physically draining. Joey crashed as soon as we got home, and he didn't get up until after I did this morning! The kids have been home from school all week for winter break, and as much as I like having them home, it's been challenging--Jerry's been working a lot, so it's been just me with the kids and the dog. I hope that next week we can establish a good routine.

So, I decided to try running today...

My ankle has been MUCH better, and even when I try to elicit pain from it, it feels normal. I decided to try out the treadmill (I won't be running on roads for a while--they are covered in ice). I was hoping to be able to do one mile at a slow pace completely pain-free. I was fully prepared to stop the treadmill the very second I felt even a twinge of pain.

I started at 5.0 mph, and I felt fine. I bumped it up to 5.5 mph, no problem. At 6.0 mph, I thought I might have felt a twinge. Under ordinary circumstances, I wouldn't have even thought twice about it--I would have just kept running. But because I was very hyper-aware of my ankle, I decided not to push it. It felt slightly different from my good ankle. Not painful, per se, but just the tiniest of twinges.

I really wanted to run through it, but I decided to play it safe and wait a little longer. I only made it a full two minutes today. I'll try again in a week or so. I'm really hopeful that after I get home from Portland (less than three weeks away!!!), I'll be able to start an actual training schedule. There is really no chance that I'll be able to run the 15K, but I'm okay with that. I'm looking forward to spectating!


  1. Hi Katie, I've been reading your blog for many years but never commented. I'm finally commenting now because I love dogs and am very passionate about helping dogs and owners adjust to each other. I'm super excited that you've adopted a dog! I work with dogs at the local shelter, and I highly recommend Patricia McConnell's book called "The Other End of the Leash" for all dog owners, especially new ones. You can read the reviews on Amazon too, but she does a great job explaining how dogs learn and how you can get them to do what you want through positive methods (for all sorts of behavioral issues, such as not chewing up the garbage, not just obedience training). In my experience, understanding how the dog brain works (which is surprisingly different from how the human brain works!) really enhances the training, the trust, and the dog-human bond. Just my two cents, and I wish you many many wonderful years of love to come!

  2. Why don't you walk it?! Or do the 8k and walk that?! My friends have now ditched me for the 15k and I'm going to be doing the 8k by myself with my 13 minute miles. lol

  3. Super job Joey !

    So glad the class went well...but I totally agree, I HATE cigarettes and their stinky smoke - UGH !

    Very relieved the teacher was worth it. I think ( and hope) Joey might not be as difficult to leash train... he seems to be a young like guy.... may get it pretty quickly : )

    Patience with your ankle.... it will be worth it.

  4. That is a martingale collar and they are awesome! We pretty much have to use those with our greyhound due to her skinny neck and little praying mantis head. Regular collars just slip. And the smoking thing probably would have put me over the edge and made me walk out. So gross.

  5. Oh my godddd, I can't EVEN with the smoking. I would have been so grossed out. How unprofessional. A small part of me hopes that lady reads your blog so she can get a clue.

  6. An easy walk harness worked well for us. http://www.petsafe.net/easywalk We got a rescue dog who is 50+lbs. When we first got him walking him was nearly unmanageable. First I tried a regular harness, but that almost gave him more pulling power. The trainer suggested the easy walk harness and it made a huge difference. Walking is now an enjoyable experience. Joey is darling and I'm sure you all will many happy years together.

  7. I am over a year late but I happened to be looking up dog breeds to figure out what mine is and came across this pic of joey. This side view is IDENTICAL and I mean IDENTICAL to my dog! So my questions are: what breed(s) is he? How old is he now? How much does he weigh? And do you know anything about his background like where he came from before you got him?

    1. Hey there! We adopted Joey from our local animal shelter, and we were told he is a black labrador/chow chow mix. He's a little shorter and stockier than a lab, and he has a spotted tongue and curled tail like a chow chow. He's approximately 2 1/2 years old now, and he weighs about 55 pounds. We were told that he came into the shelter as a stray, so we don't know anything else about him, unfortunately. He's a VERY well behaved dog. His only problem is that he has separation anxiety and hates to be without "his people".

  8. Ok. We got our onyx from humane society and he came from the tornado in Oklahoma in 2013. He turned 3 in march. He is 50 lbs and also has spots on his tongue. His tail is curled with some white in it, his ears are the same as joeys along with his coat length, figure, face, and pretty much everything else. I believe they are the same mix which is unknown. I wanted to see if they were possibly long lost siblings. :) onyxs only problem is he is not dog friendly as he was pulled away from his mom and litter mates very early.

    1. If you search "chabrador" on Google, you may see some more than look like them! I've seen a few that look identical to Joey.


I used to publish ALL comments (even the mean ones) but I recently chose not to publish those. I always welcome constructive comments/criticism, but there is no need for unnecessary rudeness/hate. But please--I love reading what you have to say! (This comment form is super finicky, so I apologize if you're unable to comment)

Featured Posts

Blog Archive