Here`s another great article:
To say I am mortified by Sophie's (4mo black lab) behavior at her first obedience class is an understatement. The best part is we started off the class by introducing ourselves and our dogs and talking about what we want to get out of the class: "This is Sophie, she actually knows her basic commands already. We're just here because the course is a prerequisite for the advanced obedience, and I figured it couldn't hurt to proof the basics in a more distracting environment."
Hahahaha what an idiot. ~me (one hour later)
We started with a "meet and greet". I didn't realize this would involve body slamming and trampling a little 14 wk schnauzer puppy under the premise of "play", as the pup's young owner watched in horror. When the schnauzer runs away yelping to cower in his owner's lap, Soph then turns her attention to a 5 month old akita/pit mix and proceeds to jump all over his head and bite his face. This pup is easily twice her size but thankfully very docile and easy going. He just stands there calmly as I leap in and drag her off. Wrangling her back into a corner to give the other dogs a break then causes her to yip and yowl and make a god awful racket like I'm physically torturing her. Note this is a dog that I have yet to hear bark more times than I can count on one hand, because she is so naturally quiet.
After that debacle that instructor is quick to move on to the actual lesson. We're supposed to be learning how to use a marker word, focus/look, sit, and down. All of these things I know Sophie can do without a second thought. Except for now. Every single time the instructor touches her treat pouch Sophie assumes she is the one that should get the treat. All she wants to do is go up to the trainer like see? Look how well I sit. I'm a good girl right? Yes Sophie, we know you are a smart girl. But that's not the point right now okay? We need to give the other dogs a chance to learn too, so the trainer is going to demo with them instead.
This sends Soph into a frenzy. WAIT. WHAT? WHY ARE YOU NOT LISTENING TO MEEEE! I can practically hear her scream. All of my attempts to refocus her attention on me are futile, and of course I don't want to reward bad behavior. So that leaves her leaping and whining and strangling herself at the end of her leash in an attempt to get to the instructor. Oh look, that other person is giving their dog a treat over there? OH HECK NO, WHY CAN'T I HAVE ONE TOO?!
For the next hour I'm constantly removing her from the group for whining and crying so we can do a "reset" and come back to the lesson. I try (in vain) to capture her attention and maintain her focus with constant reinforcement. Apparently neither lamb's lung (her favorite), peanut butter cookies (a close second), bacon treats (doggy crack), nor her regular dinner of kibble is good enough for the job. Literally the easiest request ("Soph, look!"), even when rewarded with the biggest jackpot, is ignored after 1 or 2 repetitions. In the meantime, the rest of the puppies are just lying like perfect angels next to their owners calmly following along with the exercises. None of the others make a peep over the course of the hour.
Finally the class is over and I'm ready to get the hell outta there. I'm exhausted and embarrassed and can feel the rest of the student's eyes on my when the instructor comments that it would probably be good to spend some time at the beginning of the next class working on "polite" dog-to-dog greetings. Great. Then before I can scurry away she pulls me aside and pats me on the shoulder: "I'm sure she will start to calm down in a couple weeks. Don't worry, I can tell she has a good [obedience] foundation already." AWESOME. Too bad she doesn't show it in public aka the place it really matters most!
Sigh. I'm pretty sure I know how we got here. So I don't know if I am looking for advice or more for just a place to vent. I'm just SO embarrassed that I've been bragging about her training progress to all of my friends and family for weeks, and then she goes and makes a complete fool out of both of us. I know I am probably not handling her reactions to the classroom environment well and that this is likely contributing to the problem. But it's so much harder than I expected to react appropriately in those kind of situations!
So tell me about the times when your pup has acted in a similar "Jekyll and Hyde" fashion. Or do you have advice on handling puppy class in particular? Sympathy would be much appreciate too haha. Thanks for reading, here's your puppy tax!
Soph the world's cutest shit head.
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