As I can't get Hugo into the dog training classes that I want to go to until late September I took him along to the local class this evening. I spoke to the leader on the phone before we went and he said to use an ordinary collar and lead (no harness) and to take cut up bits of sausage as treats. This is the exact opposite method of training I want to use as I don't think dogs should be bribed with treats - a 'good boy' in a happy voice should be all the reward they need. Just my opinion but I'm open to other ideas.
Anyway, we went along and Hugo was really exited to see all the other dogs - mostly small puppies or Jack Russell size dogs - and winged and pulled to go see them all. 'The Man' (for that is what he shall be referred to from now on) straight away grabbed hold of him and made him sit for a treat - the fact he can already sit quite nicely, thank you very much, and lie down and give a paw all without bribery wasn't even asked about. Needless to say Hugo sat - he is so food obsessed I knew he would. He also sat every time The Man walked by or looked at him simply because he thought he would get a treat.
Had to stand at the side of the room for ages with each dog taking it in turn to walk up the room, getting the dog to sit at various points - when it was Hugo's turn he wasn't too bad but The Man said not to put my hand through the loop of the lead as a dog could take you across the road and dislocate your shoulder if you did. Believe me I have always had far more control this way in the past and never ended up with blisters like I have tonight because of having to hold the lead through my hands. Remember I have had twelve years experience with an eleven stone Akita - if they want to 'go' you have to have the lead secured to something and I would rather have a dislocated shoulder than a run-over dog!
As you might be able to tell I am not keen on The Man. He first said that Hugo had a touch of conjunctivitis because his eyes were red - this is actually caused by him pulling so hard on his collar and lead and why we use a harness which doesn't cut the air supply off to his lungs. Then he said Hugo's ears weren't right for an Akita as they were too close together. I could feel my hackles rising - just like when someone criticises your child. Anyone who knows Akitas will know how pricked their ears get when exited and then go all 'Gizmo' when they are tired or in trouble. What finally turned me against him, and I must warn my fellow Akita-lovers they too might be upset by this, was when he said no dogs should be allowed upstairs as that is man's domain and the dog should stay downstairs.
The lesson continued with various weaving in and out and walking head-on to other dogs and their owners - as long as Hugo has his nose glued to a piece of sausage he was fine. Then came a sit and stay exercise where The Man held onto your dog and you walked away and then called them to you. He made Hugo do it attached to a long lead and wouldn't even give him a chance to do it on his own - he actually did it very well so the lead wasn't needed - he was actually more interested in a bowl of water behind The Man and had to have a drink before he continued - hah, you try and control an Akita when he has other things on his mind!
All in all, it was probably quite a good exercise in socialising Hugo with other dogs so I will continue for a couple of weeks and see how he does. The problem came as we were leaving and the next group of dog were coming in. Everything learnt over the last hour was immediately forgotten and he dragged me hither and thither round the car park trying to get to go and say hello to every dog in sight.
One good thing though, Hugo is completely exhausted - he is lying flat out on the carpet snoring away -with about a pound of sausages inside him he should be rather content!