Caitie Ihrig

Training a dog is also training a human.

Over the weekend, Nate and I took Tigger to Santa Fe to hang out with Zia who is a Pitbull and Chocolate Lab mix, and to have her first dog training session. We headed there on Saturday and she was whining for the majority of the two hour car ride. All the whining stopped the second she saw Zia.

Zia was waiting inside of the house and Tigger did not want to go in as she had no idea where she was or why we were there. Once we got her inside and she saw Zia, the chaos started.

The two dogs were running around Nate’s grandma’s house like crazy. They were running into everything, including each other. Nate let the dogs outside and they spent a while just running around the backyard and playing. Neither one of them calmed down until they were separated to go to bed.

The next morning we had our first training session. The first thing we did was discuss what the problems were, which mainly included separation anxiety, jumping on the counters, accidentally biting when playing and eating shoes and clothing.

We also have to get her crate trained in a way where she feels her crate is a positive space and is somewhere she can feel comfortable. Right now, if we put her in the crate and leave her alone, she tries to pull in and eat the blankets we put around the crate to make it warm. Tigger will also bite at her bed and ignore all the toys that are in there.

During the session, we worked on using a treat to get her into the crate. She became very good at getting three of her paws in, grabbing the treat and then quickly backing out. Tigger really didn’t like it when we locked her in there and she started biting the crate.

For 30 minutes each day when I’m at work, Nate has to leave Tigger in her crate and ignore her to help with the separation anxiety. Once she gets better at being in the crate when I’m at work, we have to start putting her in there for 30 minutes when both of us are home. To help Tigger when she is in there, we were told to get a Kong dog toy, freeze it and fill it with peanut butter and dog food. Hopefully, that will keep her occupied and help her to not freak out.

We then began to work on getting her to come when she is called. Nate and I learned that she is very good at coming when we have a treat for her.

After that, we were told that Tigger should always sit before going outside or coming back in. She wasn’t a big fan of that either and would try to slip through the crack in the door to come in when Nate or I opened it to tell her to sit. She would only sit if we showed her a treat.

Nate then put the harness on her where the leash attaches to Tigger’s chest instead of her back. It worked great with the trainer, not so much that night when Tigger and Zia were taken on a walk together. Tigger almost got out of the harness and had to be carried back to the house. Zia was then taken on the rest of her walk.

The final lesson of the first session was getting her to sit on command. It worked very well with a treat, not so well without. The trainer also got her to lay down a few times by putting a treat on the ground. She was able to get Tigger to kind of rollover. Tigger started to, but then hit the legs of a chair.

It was a great lesson and Nate and I have a lot of homework to do with Tigger throughout the week.