Puppy School– Day 1

Buddy had his first canine good citizen class tonight. I am counting it a success that we didn’t get kicked out yet. I am not fully confident that it might not happen next week.

It was a small group, just Buddy, two other dogs in the class, and the trainer’s dog. Thank goodness there weren’t any more there tonight or Buddy might have completely exploded! You see Buddy likes to play. He’s a big fan of other dogs, as long as he can chase, wrestle, and more recently, try to mate with them. Trying to work separately on basic skills causes his little mind to overload and for him to simply quake with anxiety.

The plan for the night was to start with practicing loose leash walking. That’s a tough one for Buddy. Add in the other dogs in the room and that his foolish human was remembering to use the clicker and praise, but failing to consistently provide treats, and we weren’t getting very far. The class was held in a large gym in the local high school. Every time we got in the same within 20 feet of one of the other dogs Buddy would start to pull and whine and move into a full on bark. “MOM, LET ME PLAY!” and we’d need to turn and go the other way.

Then the trainer suggested that we work together on stay. I explained that Buddy and I had worked on stay quite a bit and that just yesterday he started a strange new response. Every time I say “stay” he confuses it with “lay down” and he lays down. The trainer gave it a try and sure enough each time she said stay, he laid down. When he didn’t get a treat for laying down he tried rolling over to see if that might work. She suggested that we start over with that piece of training and gave me some guidance on doing a short stay and using a release word. But, by now Buddy was far too entranced with the other dogs in the room and cared almost nothing for treats, not even the really good ones. She encouraged me to treat him for just being quiet.

So, Buddy and I found our corner of the room and just worked on a little bit of sit, stay, lay down, and look, while mostly just getting praise and treats for every moment that he was able to let another dog near us without whining and barking.

Thank goodness for that last bit of the hour together when the trainer let us all let our dogs off leash and Buddy was free to play. Still, that wasn’t all the best either. First of all, gym floors are really hard to get a grip on if you’re a bumbling puppy trying to speed after the big guys. Buddy did a lot of slipping and sliding and at least one flip that I think may have worried the other people in the room for a moment. Then there were Buddy’s teenage hormones. Thankfully, all the young lady dogs had already been spayed. Buddy will be neutered soon, but for now is still testing his manhood as much as possible.

We’ve got some work to do. But, for now Buddy is a happy and tired puppy. School was quite the adventure! More stories next week!

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