Among other things, we thought it would be a good idea to take her to obedience class. So, we signed up at our local P*t Sm*rt store for classes. The instructor was a kindly older German woman named (Re)gina. She told us to call her Gina. She spoke with something of an accent, which only gave her instructions the sound of COMMAND as she put us through our paces.
The first week, there were about ten dogs and owners in attendance. One dog was a small pit bull who could not/would not stop barking. Gina took a metal water dish and kept dropping it next to the dog--clang, clang. The dog would startle, stop barking for a bit, then resume barking. There was a sweet looking border collie named Dakota that was so shy and freaked by all the people that she would not look at anyone. She kept her head tucked in next to her person.
Then there were Murphy, a labradoodle who looked for all the world like a big doofy puppy, and Brook, a sweet retriever mix. And of course Ziva. These three dogs were the "big" dogs of the group.
So the third week, we went, and found that it was just the three big dogs. Actually, the pit bull was supposed to be there too, but the owner never came back. Maybe he liked having recalcitrant perpetually barking dog.
Each week, the class would begin with a mad tumble of dogs. All three mixing it up, with Brook and Ziva especially liking (and licking) each other. Ziva and Brook seemed to be best friends. Then it was down to business--sort of.
The training focused on SIT, DOWN, STAY, COME, puppy push ups (sit, down, sit again), and WAIT. The difference between "stay" and "wait" is basically that "stay" requires duration, distance, and distraction. You get your dog to sit or lie, you back up to put some distance between you; then you hold for 15 seconds or so, then go back and release the dog. Distraction means you should be able to have the dog stay, even if you walk around it or some other distraction. "Wait" is you walking away from the dog, then calling her to come to you. Frankly, a fine distinction, but maybe there is a point to it.
Finally, there was one magic command that Gina wanted everyone to learn and practice. TOUCH. When you are some distance from the dog, and you want her to come to you, raise your hand overhead, waving, and yell ZIVA, TOUCH. The dog comes running, you grab her collar or leash, say "good touch" and give a food reward. If you imprint this sequence enough, you should be able to use it to bring your dog back to you, if for some reason she is getting away from you, or about to be in danger.
We would go through the paces, she would sort of do each step. She got very good at SIT, and DOWN. OK with puppy push-ups. STAY--well, sort of. For a few seconds. COME--no problem. WAIT--forget it. TOUCH--she was great with that, and we have even used it a few times at home.
The next to last class, when she was supposed to go through ALL the steps, she would not do it. She basically refused every command. Gina was very understanding. Oh, it's the border collie in her. RIGHT. All I see in Ziva is retriever. Her mother was reputed to be a golden retriever., But my suspicion is her mother was a yellow labrador retriever. And, labs can be rascals--loving, yes, but rascals.
So this week was graduation. But, first, there was the final exam. Gina walked around dropping a label on the floor with each step. My heart sank--she (Ziva) had been so bad the previous week. But, like some human students I have known, Ziva seemed to be absorbing even when she wasn't performing.
The final exam
She went from SIT, to DOWN,STAY, and COME. She even did puppy push-ups. Then WAIT--a bit of trouble with that. But she enthusiastically ran to me for TOUCH. In fact, as each dog owner would say TOUCH, Ziva was ready to run to them.
She passed. And got her certificate to prove it. I don't think she's a natural student, but at least we both survived our training.
P. S. Dakota, the sweet border collie, completely came out of her shell, and was very friendly. Another successful graduate.