Brythen and I have been attending a basic dog training course together. He has done quite well, and I suspect would have done even better if I wasn't letting the side down by not doing enough practice, and failing to give consistent signals. He responds better to hand signals than voice commands, but I'm not good at making exactly the same hand signal each time when I've got the lead, treats etc to wrangle. My other problem is motivating him to really focus on doing what I ask - he quite likes food, but he's not very driven by it. Even fresh sausages are nice, rather than eye-buggingly awesome.
One reason I really wanted to do a regular class was for motivation : in theory, there are piles of dog training resources and so on online, but in practice there is nothing like a weekly event you have to actually go to at a fixed time to force you to get round to things. Plus, it's good to practice this stuff in an environment where there are distractions like other people and dogs about - and I think he does learn by watching the other dogs too, although I'm not sure what he learns is always what I want him to!
From my point of view, I'm not sure the environment is ideal. Classes are held in an indoor horse exercise barn thingy, and the acoustics are appalling so it's hard to hear what's being said. Plus, everything comes home with a layer of black rubbery stuff off the floor.
He is supposed to have learned:
sit - very good at this, if in doubt, sit!
down - took him a while to get the hang of it, sometimes still get a bit mixed up about which is down and which is sit. More practice needed. Having done 'down', occasionally decides to flop over and just go to sleep, which always causes hilarity, or sit there with crossed paws looking regal and stern.
stay - surprisingly good at this one.
come - excellent, for a sighthound but still needs more practice. Probably always will.
stand - he totally doesn't get this one. Automatically goes into a sit or a down. So far I have utterly failed to explain it in a way he understands.
away (to your mat) - getting there, probably 3 times out of 4ish. Much better in the house than at the class.
Some confusion initially, until I worked out that for some mysterious reason he was scared of the brightly coloured towel I had brought to be his mat. A fleecy blanket has proved more acceptable.
down at a distance (on your mat) - again, surprisingly good at this, except occasionally when distracted. A gorgeous deerhound was at the last class, and Brythen clearly thought that the class would be greatly improved if there was a curriculum change to involve him and the deerhound being allowed to madly bounce about lurcherdancing in a loony manner for an hour. The deerhound was of the same mind. It was hard to persuade them otherwise.
lead walking - formal lead walking, dog on left, lead in right hand, treats in left hand, change direction smartly. He'd get this if I didn't get so hopelessly muddled up and find myself with lead, treats,hands, feet etc all the wrong way round.
Leave it and Take it - I keep forgetting to practice these for some reason, so he's not terribly good at them. Don't know why they keep escaping my mind. Probably because he's such a good boy and doesn't raid the kitchen.
We were supposed to do retrieving this week, but the trainer forgot so we are doing it very briefly next week, which I'm a bit sad about as I would have liked a bit more time on that. Brythen is more of a 'grab toy, race about waving madly, eventually drop it and wander away' dog than a natural retriever.
I have also got BOTH of my dogs to do a fairly reliable 'wait', when opening the car boot lid, as it seems safer for them to wait to be told to go than to come sproinging out as soon as there is a lurcher-sized gap. Though now I think of it, I'm not sure why I taught them that was 'wait' and how that's different from 'stay'. No wonder they get confused.
Although it's not a class thing I also teach 'close in' for walking in the lanes, for when a horse or a car comes by - which you don't see mentioned in books, but when you live somewhere totally without pavements, is a really useful command.
Am not sure whether to look for more class type things after this one ends. On the one hand, the discipline of a weekly meeting is useful, and the occasional feedback/ advice is too - but on the other, he does get car sick, so is probably less enthusiastic about the classes for that reason. I did have a vague idea I might try a fun agility class with him, but that would involve more driving, which he would not like.