As well behaved and mellow as Dakota is, there are still quite a few things she needs to work on. Getting along with smaller dogs and controlling her prey drive were the two main reasons we decided to sign up for an 8 week dog obedience class and here’s what we are learning.
Week 1: Louis and I attended the first introductory class last Wednesday without Dakota and were impressed with the trainer’s demonstrating of what we will teach our dog to do during the next several weeks of class. While we are pretty confident Dakota can already do the basic commands in a controlled environment, we are less confident of her obedience skills when she’s surrounded by 14 other dogs. Inspired by the introductory class, we decided to use some of the trainer’s tips while walking Dakota the same night. When we arrived at a part of our neighborhood that is infested with rabbits, Dakota immediately went into hunting mode, ears up, upright, ready to pounce of the rabbits. As usual, she follows through with her sit command very well but never makes eye contact with us. She is constantly scanning the area, shaking with anxiety and whimpering, begging to go after the rabbits. Louis decided to use his hands to turn Dakota’s face toward us, hoping she would make eye contact. After a bit of chastising, yelling and struggling, she finally made eye contact. We were amazing at how much calmer she is after acknowledging through eye contact and we were glad we took the trainer’s recommendation and followed through with the exercise instead of giving up half way through. It’s been a week since we tried the exercise, we still cannot get Dakota to voluntary turn her head to make eye contact with us but our hand gesture to turn her head requires a lot less effort. A short list of things we hope to get out of the obedience class:
- A great weekly opportunity to socialize Dakota with other dogs, especially dogs smaller than she is.
- Control Dakota’s prey drive for smaller animals
- There are already several concerns from some of the attendees about being scared of big dogs. We hope to show the skeptics in the class that pit bulls are not always aggressive animals.