Thanks to Graco team member, Liz, for this great story! Liz is expecting her first little one soon and has volunteered to share her adventures in getting ready for her new arrival. Check out her other posts in this series here and here!
Once I recovered from Step One’s near meltdown, it was time to move on to Step Two: Basic Obedience Skills Prioritization & Review.
During this step we focused more on the dogs than on the cats, since our dogs tend to require a lot more supervision and management.
When we first adopted each of our dogs, we took them to basic obedience skills classes to bond with them and to learn together how to be respectable canine citizens and function semi-normally when out and about in public. We used a technique called Clicker Training in our classes and the result was two really well-behaved and happy pups who liked to work on obedience skills, and two happy owners who figured out that Clicker Training can be practiced while sitting on your couch at home. Score for both sides!
Of course, that was a long time ago now. As they tell you in those classes, it’s not a one-class-and-you’re-done kind of thing. You have to work on the skills you learn throughout your dog’s life to keep them solid. Well… we slacked off a smidge when it came to that. Guess we aren’t going to win any Pet Owner of the Year awards.
We always used to joke that we can’t have more dogs than we have hands, so we could always corral (or derail!) any mischievous behavior pretty quickly. But with a baby coming, we’ll each be down a hand, probably when we need two hands the most. So we figured we better get on it and buckle down for Boot Camp. We resolved to overcome our collective laziness and make a list of the most important obedience skills we thought we needed to do a little refresher training with, so when the baby comes, they will be solid when we need them.
We came up with our list by imagining what situations would happen more often when the baby arrives (e.g. more visitors = more doorbell ringing, which is of course the nemesis of respectable dogs everywhere). Our final list included:
• Sit / Stay
• Down / Stay
• Loose Leash Walking
• Go To Your Bed
• Leave It
So we are practicing these on a regular basis using the magic wand, the Clicker, and also giving commands from different positions (e.g. from the couch, laying down, from the kitchen table) and with some distractions (e.g. doorbells) for added assurance that we can manage the dogs while tending to a newborn. Our progress has been really great so far… and of course Simon and Daisy are enjoying the extra cheese that comes along with doing lots of training. If only those two could peer into their futures to see what is coming… .
Look who sits and stays so nicely when the doorbell rings now! Well, most of the time, anyway. It’s a work-in-progress.
Next time we’ll be showing you guys how we integrated baby-specific gear, smells, and sounds into our obedience skill building… suffice it to say it has been pretty hilarious so far but I think we are on the right path now.
Let’s just say it’s a good thing we started before a real baby was in any of the items!
Stay tuned for Step #3!