Dog Training Ain’t Easy

by Willa Condy

Roxy is getting used to living with us and is starting to show her true personality. She barks when she wants her breakfast, lunch and dinner. Her barks start half an hour before meal times and continue until she chows down.

In the mornings she loves going to wake up the Better Half. Her favourite activity in the a..m. is waking up the BH by removing his covers. She will keep bugging him until I rattle the treats. Then she comes and does a sit stay. That lasts until the BH walks out of the bedroom and she runs after him barking.

I am trying to train Roxy to cut down on barking and we are doing some basic obedience commands. So far she has the getting treats after a command part down perfectly. Doing the commands is more problematic.

She does have the talk to the paw down unfortunately.


I believe in obedience training as it trains the person as much as it does the dog. With social distancing taking Roxy to a training class is not in the cards, so I am muddling through home training.

Roxy is pretty mellow, which is vastly different from our last dog Rex. Mellow was not a word that was ever used to describe Rex.

One day Rex got loose outside. The Better Half actually ran after him to try to bring him home. Rex ran out the back yard, down the alley, back around the front of the house and ran back to the back yard. I swear he looked over his shoulder to make sure the B.H. was still running after him.

We had Rex for just over a month when we signed up for obedience training. I had visions of acing this first obedience class and possible moving on to agility. In my mind I could see Rex clearing hurdles and just having fun. That dream lasted until the first class.

My instructor knew her stuff, but didn’t understand a reactive dog like Rex. She said don’t walk them prior to class. With Rex I should have walked him for an hour or two before the class. It might have helped.

Instead I had a scared dog that hadn’t been socialized as a puppy. He barked at the other dogs and froze when trying to do his sits, stays and downs.
We kept on going and at home Rex did seem to be learning how to do his sits and stays. In class it was another matter. We left each class both feeling relieved that the class had finished.

Finally we got to the last class and I was hopeful that Rex would pass.

The instructor taught agility classes and decided that on this last class we would do some agility training.

Everyone was excited by this unexpected challenge. Well, almost everyone except me.

I had a gut feeling that this was not a good idea for Rex. He wasn’t at that point overly fond of people. Rex also had problems with other dogs and the idea of him running an obstacle course off leash was a stretch.

When it was our turn I asked the instructor if she was sure this was wise. She was positive Rex could handle it.

The dog that went right before Rex was the instructor’s six month old cocker spaniel puppy. This was the first time she had brought her puppy to the class. Her dog was just about finished when she told me to let Rex go.

Rex had his eyes firmly fixed on the puppy. Not really a good sign. He ran out, forgetting the obstacles and nipped the puppy’s rear end. Luckily it was just a nip and no damage was done to the puppy. I knew at that minute the odd of Rex passing obedience was slim and no way in Hades.

I started doing research and learning about difficult dogs. Rex unfortunately fit into that category. He was reactive and training him had to be done a tad differently.

We adjusted his food and put him on a lower portion dog food. I knew that if you were feeding a stallion you had to watch the protein level or it could make him lifey. That is one reason for that saying feeling your oats.

I admit I never considered that high protein impact on a dog. But then I had never had a Rex before. Rex started calming down and we weren’t sure to give the credit to the change of diet.

We had company staying with us and they gave Rex some jerky treats. Well, more than a few, an entire bag within a two day period.

Rex immediately started barking and acting up. He even barked at trees on his walk. We kept him low protein after that.

When we got Roxy I did put her on a low protein food. Just in case.

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