We brought our newest family member home on September 26th when he was 8 weeks old. We’re now beginning our 21st week with our little mischief-maker. We’ve spent the past five months figuring him out and trying to get him adjusted to our life here. We’ve taken him to puppy socialization classes where he excelled at holding his own against dogs far taller and heavier than he is. We tried him at puppy training classes at Petsmart, only to be foiled by two very small, very barky, very distracting miniature schnauzers that made it impossible to hear the dog trainer and practice commands. We finally went back to the trainer who ran the puppy socialization classes, Lynn, and signed up for Delightful Dog class. Loki had a real affinity for Lynn, so we knew this might be the person who could help us get him on track (although we already thought he was a delightful dog).
Fortunately for us, there were only four puppers in the class including Loki. With fewer doggy distractions (and no excessive barkers), we were in it to win it. Lynn gave us plenty of wonderful tips for positive training. It’s all about treats and clear messaging for positive behaviors and lots of patience. Loki came to class already proficient in Watch Me, Touch, and Sit, plus a couple fun commands we worked on just for giggles, Spin (self-explanatory) and Boop (he has to put his nose through the hole of a donut toy). Our first real challenge with him was Down, which is hard to teach a dog who only has six inches of ground clearance. He thinks he’s already pretty far down and doesn’t see why we want him to lower himself. Lynn showed us how we could sit on the ground and lure Loki under our bent knees, which would force him onto his belly to get underneath for the treat. Once his belly hit the ground, we let out an emphatic “yes” and gave him a reward. It took about five minutes of this before he figured out that Down meant flat on his belly. Over the course of a couple weeks, we got him to the point where we can say Down and point to the floor and he drops onto his belly. Such a good boy.
We were still working on Stay and Come when time for the class final arrived. I was nervous on the way to class. I told Loki not to embarrass us during his test, but I knew he probably would, at least a little bit. Lynn did a great job of not making any of us, dogs or humans, feel anxious once we arrived. Loki blew through Watch Me, Touch, and Sit like a champ. Then he showed Lynn that he had learned Down. Loki did pretty well with Leave It, ignoring the treats in my open palm in front of his face. He did an okay job with Stay, but when it came to Come things went off the rails. With his leash off and other dogs and humans nearby, it was a Loki free-for-all. Despite my treats and emphatic cries of “Loki, COME,” he was what you would expect from a corgi named Loki…all mischief and tricks. But, that’s okay. He’s an adolescent corgi. We can keep working on it. He will get there eventually. He’s a smart little guy who loves treats and has patient parents who want to see him succeed.
When all the dogs had cycled through the exam material, Lynn played “Pomp and Circumstance” and handed out diplomas, with tacit acknowledgment from all the pet parents there is still plenty of work to be done. For us, it’s going to be many more walks to perfect loose leash walking, along with time focusing on Come and Stay. I would also like him to learn Place and Wait. And I will never stop teaching him tricks. If I taught him to use Inside Voice, I’m pretty sure I can follow that up with Crawl, Stretch, Shake, and a few others. Teaching a dog to behave is hard work. Teaching a dog to be cute is fun work. We’re proud of our little graduate. He only got a B- on his final exam because of the disaster with the Come command, but he gets an A from us for making us laugh every damn day. Good job, little Loki.