Dog Obedience and Gender Neutral Names

Firstly, a bit of a change to my blog.  I have come to the realisation that keeping dog names general is rather silly (yep, sometimes I can admit that I do stupid things.  Not often, but… sometimes)… though I maintain my opinion on keeping people names personal.  I started that a bit in the last post, but figured I’d wait until this post to more formally introduce Dog, since his name elicits a wide variety of reactions, ranging from “Wha…?” to “That’s a girl name”, and I might as well give you all the explanation I rarely bother giving to the average person on the street.

Gwynn, much less hairy than he is today

Dog’s name is Gwynn (though he does get called Dog as well, especially when he’s hovering under the cutting-board, doing his best to levitate the chicken onto the floor), and yes, he is a boy.  No, it isn’t only a girl’s name – it is Welsh, and a boy name, as well as a girl name.  Neither he nor I really care if someone calls him a pretty girl, though, but I do find the response of, “That’s a girl name” to be kind of rude.  Is that statement a challenge of some sort?  Maybe you think I mis-named him, or lied when I said he’s a boy?  Are you requesting the opportunity to see his bits?  That would be awkward.  Gwynn is pronounced like Quinn, but with a G instead of a Q, though I rarely correct people when they do mishear me and call him Quinn.  Similar to the ‘pretty girl’ thing, he really doesn’t care what you call him, so long as you’re behaving suitably adoringly.  He was named after Gwynne Dyer, a very interesting public speaker and journalist who I highly recommend going to hear if you have the opportunity to do so.  He is the first pet I’ve owned that got named by me, and, while I entirely ignored the strong suggestions of many ‘how to name your pet’ sites, I think I did a good job.  His name might not end in an ‘y’ sound (Sadie, Fluffy, Jesse) or have two syllables (Sadie, Fluffy, Jesse), but I did avoid naming him something that would be embarrassing to shout across a field to catch his attention.  I also refrained from calling him Apricot, a name one ‘how to name your pet’ site used as an example of what they would consider embarrassing to shout across a field.  He is apricot coloured, and it sounds like such a cute name, but I felt that shouting AAA-Pri-COOOOT! would be time-consuming(though not embarrassing), and wouldn’t necessarily sound at all like his name at normal decibels, so he might not answer to the shouted version as well as the ‘good-boy-apricot’ version. 

Moving past the name issue, Gwynn had his last dog obedience class this past Friday.  He is so much more obedient than he was before, and I have decided (uncertainly) not to enrol him for the spring session.  For one thing, my obedience instructor said that she gets a lot of new puppies in the spring session.  Both classes I took were technically titled beginner, but she was able to do more intermediate things in the winter term, because most of the dogs in the course were in their second enrolment in the course.  Spring, the season of acquiring new puppies and dealing with the over-due training of Christmas-puppies, will probably see the class back at an actual beginner-stage of things.  I’m kind of hoping that she will start up an intermediate or advanced obedience course run through the city, because the city-run courses are considerably more reasonably priced than the other courses available.  While her courses come out to about 10$/hour long class, the group courses run by dog-training companies run a fair bit higher in price (22 to 40 dollars per 1-hour long session at the places that are relatively close to me).  However, in checking up on these prices, I am beginning to think that 20-ish isn’t that bad a price, especially if it allows me to keep upgrading Gwynn’s skills in a social environment (i.e., with distractions).  Bear with me, I’m kind of making up my mind about this plan as I am writing it.

I do realise that price shouldn’t be my only working point in the search for intermediate type training, but it is one of the aspects I am using in my consideration of courses.  Something I’m also finding is that a lot of the places near me seem to require you to have completed one of their beginner courses prior to enrolling in an intermediate course.  I’m not willing to start from scratch in my training, especially for a higher priced course in which I’d be basically doing review.  We’ll see whether they’re willing to test his obedience, or just plain accept us into an intermediate class without the prerequisites. 

Also, I kind of want to see what it is I’m paying for prior to starting.  With the city course, if I had been unhappy, chances are, I could have easily gotten my money back – even if I couldn’t, I could deal with losing $80 more easily than $200+.  These companies all have strict no-refund policies, it would seem.  So, I’ll have to check to find out if I can sit in on a class or two, to see if I like the instruction style before putting my money on the table.  I’d want to see what the teaching style is, how the dogs are behaving in the classes (ie, is Gwynn obedient enough to join the intermediate class here, or should I, in fact, go to the beginners), how much time is spent on different things and what types of things the course will cover.  I realise it is silly, but in my mind, I have this vision of arriving at a dog obedience class and finding some awful tyrannical monster instructor who screams and yells and hits the dogs and has all the dogs being unnaturally obedient out of fear.  Gwynn was such a timid guy when we first got him, so I’ve been doing my absolute best to keep him out of situations that would make him turn back into that fearful thing again.  One of the many reasons I’m so careful to ask the ‘is your dog friendly?’ question.  Our instructor with the City gets better obedience out of him than I do, but definitely not out of fear – he is hugely excited to be used as a teaching example, or just for her to stop and say hello to him.  I want to find an obedience class that is both effective and a chance to let him socialize with people and dogs from outside my circle of people.

Regardless, I think I’ll be waiting until the summer or fall sessions to start a new session of obedience, though I’ll need to start looking now if I want to actually go to a few of their classes to research them.  If you’ve got experience taking or teaching obedience classes, leave me a comment – what do I need to look for in a training company?  What should I be looking at when I’m visiting a course?  And is it reasonable for me to be asking to sit in on a lesson at all?

Until then, I’ve got a four-week trick training course starting this week, with our obedience trainer, and I’ll have to make sure I practice and improve on his obedience commands while he’s not in a course at all.

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