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Everett Improv and Dog Training Practice

This week I was finally able to make it out to Everett Improv for a Monday night comedy class.


A happy couple smiling indoors in front of the Everett Improv sign.
Sam and Shel Graves at Everett Improv.

I had a blast!


An improv class had been on my list of things to do ever since it was recommended in The Academy for Dog Trainers classes.


So, what does improv comedy have to do with dog training?


Recently, I wrote about how dog and cat training is like playing the cello. It’s a lot of practice, practice, practice of good communication by the person and the animal. It pays off in the performance of a skill like “leave it!” in a crucial moment of grabbing for a splintery bone, coming when called if a dog escapes out a door left ajar, or getting a cat into a carrier the morning of a vet appointment.


Preparation is a big deal. I talked a lot about this with the volunteers and staff I trained in rescue work. With the hyped up, frustrated, adolescent, or scared dogs we worked with, it didn’t work well to just glide in leash in hand and expect to go for a stroll. 


It was a good idea to prep a bit before walkies with treats, a squeaky toy, and a plan for getting the harness on smoothly and distracting the dog when needed. 


One of my favorite maneuvers to teach is what to do if you are approaching a situation that may turn your dog into a barking, lunging mess on lead. 


The Happy Talk, Turn and Go is the easiest way to get out of dodge and prevent an incident. It involves shortening the leash, turning quickly away from the trigger, picking up the pace, and happy encouragement. It really works.


But it is way, way harder to do than it sounds. It’s a good idea to practice it before you need it otherwise you are more likely to freeze in place while your dog goes into an irrevocable frenzy at the end of the leash.


However, if working with animals teaches you one thing it may likely be: expect the unexpected.


Being able to pivot in a situation is an important skill too when working with animals and when teaching classes to human-animals (which is why the Academy recommended improv).


I was super excited when I saw that a comedy place with improv classes had opened on Colby Avenue. File that under #everettitsgettingbetter! And I was super grateful that the place was still there years later when I finally made it to class. Exhausting rescue work is not conducive to going out on Monday nights.


One of my favorite things about being an adult is doing things that I know I am probably not going to be any good at and are really out of my comfort zone.


Improv class was definitely one of those!


Instructor Brittany did a great job of making me feel confident, at ease, playful, and safe. She could be a dog trainer!


I loved the way she had us jump from game to game. Along the way, she threw in some nuggets of technique that were insightful, but the focus was on playing. She used a lot of positive reinforcement, too. Getting laughs is really rewarding.


I had a great time. Recommend. I’d definitely do it again. Positive reinforcement, works!

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