All Choked Up and Nowhere to Go

Quickly I realized that my puppy needed to be trained. He had some basics down like “sit” and “paw” and “bow to Sarah”; however I was beginning to realize the value of “stay” and “come”. I signed him up for training offered by the local dog club. The club focused on manners, obedience and agility and met each Sunday for sixteen weeks. I just knew that he would be a star puppy after sixteen weeks of training.

I drove to the first class which was held in a large fenced-in area with lots of agility equipment. Chase, nor I, had ever seen that many dogs convened in one place and he was determined to meet each and every one of them.

After registering (or forking over a large sum of money), his tasks were to meet all of the other dogs in the “classroom” and to master walking through the rungs of a ladder that was laying on the ground in order to build trust and confidence.

After yanking me throughout the classroom area trying to meet every dog, including a giant Schnauzer and a larger Burmese Mountain Dog who rolled over on him, an instructor took pity on me and offered some advice: “yank back really hard on the choke chain and choke him”.

Then the instructor took me to the ladder and told me that most dogs balk the first few times or refuse to go through the ladder at all. Not my dog. He loved it. Practically showed off. The instructor felt that it was a fluke and made me take Chase through the rungs again, still with the same results. It gave the other owners a glimmer of hope. I stood back to watch the rest of the class thinking the dog expert didn't know what he was talking about. I was wrong - all of the other dogs would sit down and dig in, refusing to go through the ladder or the owner would adopt a drag and shove method that involved dragging the dog forward and shoving him back in when he attempted to leave the ladder.

Armed with my new self confidence in dog training, I took Chase home to practice with the choke chain. My dog had other ideas. He quickly realized what was choking him and, as soon as the leash was attached, he either grabbed the choke chain in his mouth or grabbed part of his leash.

So...when I pulled back to choke him....he pulled right back.

“Tug-of-war-while-walking-your-puppy” is not as fun as it sounds. I noticed that the neighbors’ mini blinds appeared to be pulled back slightly on their front windows. Maybe I was saving them a lot of money on cable. Why watch reality TV when there is a show going on right across the street?

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