I think it was as much 'train the parents' as it was 'train the dogs' and we have to make a lot of changes in order for this to work. Some highlights from the visit:
- Our neighbors brought their cute little 15 month old, Baby O, to the house during the session. She is really intrigued by the dogs and loves to imitate them barking, but we have just worried the dogs would be so excited to see her the would knock her down. With the tricks the trainer was using, they dogs were really good around her! She was thrilled and kept chasing the dogs around. Zoe gave her several little licks on the cheek, but wouldn't get closer then that. Ringo decided she wasn't worth the effort after a few water bottle squirts. That may be the end of their relationship, but we'll have to see.
- Zoe had a hard time deciding at first whether she wanted to be in charge or please the dog trainer. It was like watching a devil and an angel on her shoulders duke it out. The angel ended up winning, but not without a fight.
- Ringo was a big wuss. If there were any deterrents to whatever bad activity he did, he would just abandon the activity all together and try to leave the room. He actually ran upstairs when Baby O was over because trying to check her out too closely let to a water bottle squirt. He is also not very food motivated so treats do not persuade him like they do Zoe.
- The dog trainer said the best preparation for the baby coming was to have Baby O and any other kids come over in the coming months so the dogs don't associate discipline with the new baby. The kids should stand on the leash, just like we are supposed to do (it's called grounding and lets the dog know who is in charge) so the dogs realize even these little people call the shots before they do.
- Brad and I have to stop giving the poodles free love, which is going to be SO hard! We love to just shower affection on our poodles! Instead the dogs have earn praise by doing something good. They have to ask to come up on the sofa, sit before they go outside, etc. We also have to cut down on the treats and give them 15 minutes a day to eat, right after we eat dinner, so we are the established pack leaders.
- No more retractable leashes. 4 foot fabric leashes for them and they have to wear them the whole time we are home. That way if they start to get out of hand, we can ground them, get their attention, etc.
If things go well, I guess we may need to rename the blog Good Poodle. But it will be so worth it!