Harley started obedience class tonight. It's long past overdue, but at least we're finally starting. The teacher is so young! He's in his early twenties and seems like just a kid, but he's good with the dogs and has quite a bit of experience. Harley liked the food he kept handing out, but wouldn't let the guy pet him. Harley did pretty well until my parents stopped by to say hi. From that point on all he would do is look around for them. We were in the Petsmart (not my first choice, but the only class I could find for right now) and every passing shopper became a distraction. I have no intentions of telling the teacher that I have been training dogs for ten years before he was born, nor that I taught obedience for five years. Let him think I'm an idiot, it will be less embarrassing that way. Harley is a lot of things, but obedient he is not.
He struggled a little bit because I've taught him so many tricks that he has trouble with the simple stuff. Just last night I was working on hand signals for all of his tricks. Many of them he already knew, but I added a couple of new ones. By the end of ten minutes he was doing all of his tricks with hand signals alone. However, in class, he wants to do his tricks instead of simply learning how to watch me.
It's going to be a tough class for me, because I am used to the old school methods with slip collars and leather leashes and sit and heel and so on. This deal of feeding the dogs to keep them quiet and having to treat them with food for every bit of attention from them just bothers me. Using a piece of food to teach a trick is one thing. Using food for obedience is something entirely different. I will go along with it and give it a fair shot, but it's not my style. I prefer the methods I learned 20+ years ago. Does that mean I'm getting old?