Class keeps students
on short leash
By Jesse Phelps
Ojai might quickly go to the
dogs if it wasn't for Jolene Hoffman. Wednesday night at the
Humane Society shelter on Bryant Street, shelter director Hoffman
led the first of six training sessions for man's best friend.
About 14 humans showed up with their pals in tow to find out
the secrets behind obedience. Day one lessons for the pets included
sitting, not play-biting or leash-chewing and not jumping up
Day one lessons for the humans were just as abundant. Discussion
about the proper methods of training ranged from the value of
positive reinforcement and never hitting your dog - "The
only thing you use as tool is your leash or a choke chain and
a short lead," Hoffman said - to the importance of consistency
with your commands.
And, Hoffman said, no matter how much you may feel your dog is
a darned intelligent companion, don't have conversations with
him. "Simple things, they understand," she said, "but
Hoffman also pointed out that hand signals are appropriate for
all dogs to learn because "when your old dog becomes ancient,"
he may not hear so well.
It seemed, however, that some of the humans had a harder time
hearing than the dogs on this day. Old habits are hard to break
and more than once the term "people training" came
up. Most of the canines, however, started to get it after only
two or three commands from Hoffman.
Heidi DiCapua brought her dog, Vicki, an 8-month-old Jack Russell
terrier, in for the second time. "We're repeating,"
she said, "we've been here before. I think it's me that's
Hank Maynard came with Biscuit, an 8-month-old pointer mix he
rescued from the pound. "He was terrible for two weeks,"
said Maynard. "Then he's just kind of settled down the last
couple of days. At first he didn't want to do anything, was kind
of on the vicious side."
The vicious side of Biscuit was nowhere to be seen on this day.
In fact, after one quick lesson with Hoffman, he quickly became
unwilling to jump on anyone.
Bob Hicklin got Todd at the Humane Society in April. "At
first there were problems jumping up but he's getting better
with it," said Hicklin. Still, he said, the training should
help a lot. "If he gets just really excited, he will not
calm down, he'll run around the house like a maniac. And he used
to have chewing problems. He's a good dog, but."
Even the excitable Todd proved no match for the Hoffman touch
on day one.
Hoffman, without question, is a confident trainer who knows the
ins and outs of getting dogs of all breeds and temperaments to
She'll hold five more sessions in the current training. Next
week's will focus on eliminating that problem of the over-eager
dog who rushes through doors. She's still taking sign-ups during
the second session and encourages local dog owners to attend
and learn how to be a better friend.
She said she can take up to 22 people, which leaves eight or
nine spaces. "I like the bigger crowd, I have more fun with
more people," said Hoffman. "A lot of energy, a lot
of fun with more people.
The Ojai Valley News
to the news