Friday was our first puppy class with Arrow. I had taken Arrow’s dad, Chance to obedience class before I’ve worked for a vet clinic so I’m well aware of all that goes along with a puppy. I know a lot of people don’t take their dogs to puppy class and I’m cool with that. I respect the people who know what works best for them. I like my dog to experience the group learning environment because I really feel like it helps them to learn to rely on me in a group of people, crowded park, or what have you. So, as I said, we signed up for a puppy class. (repetitious much?).
The class didn’t start until 7:45 and they advised us not to feed the pups their full ration of food before class. I assumed it was so they didn’t get too excited and throw it up. That was not the case. Now, before I continue to describe how the class went I will give you a quick piece of info about myself. I do not feed my dog “people food”. I am very against it. When you have a Labrador Retriever that is highly food motivated, you walk a dangerous path when bribing them with food. I find I like to use the intense praise and quick correction method. It works just as well without causing your 100 lb dog to become a food driven maniac! When the pup does something well I stop what I’m doing and pet him, all over, and talk to him and kiss him and play with him for a minute. If they do something not so great I give them a quick but firm verbal correction and a tug on his collar and move on with something more positive that I know he will get right, to boost his self esteem. I’ve never had an issue using this method. So, that being said, we show up to class ready to walk in a group, do our little routine and take advice.
The first thing we do is start to teach the pups to sit next to our feet while we stand by standing on their leashes and allowing strangers to approach them. The strangers were all given food as treats… string cheese… STRING CHEESE PEOPLE. I do not want my dog to have a belly of string cheese and his Blue Buffalo Salmon treats. The combo in puppy farts and possible vomit in my backseat is undesirable and ultimately preventable. But I am open minded. I don’t say anything. I listen to what the teachers have to say and try to participate in class so Arrow can get something from it. It didn’t really bother me until about three quarters of the way through class we had to let our pups off leash to socialize with each other. Instead of playing and rough housing with the others Arrow started walking from person to person and sniffing their pockets. He then started to jump up and get in their space… something I DO NOT approve of. Now, Arrow knows better. At home he sits and waits. He may give me the one and I do mean ONE excited jump and then immediately realize he needs to sit before he gets a treat. This totally brushed me the wrong way. It took everything I had not to storm out being that self righteous parent. (Insert dramatic head explosion, temper tantrum with fire coming out of my ears)
When most people at work have asked me how this class went and I respond with an eye roll and a “not good” I have to immediately explain it was the class and not the pup. People at work, know his behavior as well as I do and that’s not it. So, we are back to square one with this puppy class thing. Has anyone else experienced this? It was so bizarre. I need to track down the other obedience instructor to the class Arrow’s dad was in. That was good. Our next step: HOPEFULLY nothing like this last attempt is a puppy socialization at Petsmart this next Sunday. It sounds like supervised play. Arrow could use more of that. He doesn’t have many doggie playmates. I love watching him play so it will be as much fun for me as it is for him. Beyond Arrow’s nightly walks and days at work That’s all this week has in store for the little pup. He’s got it good the next few days.