Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Penultimate Puppy Class

Last night we took Nika up to Gemini for her second to last puppy class.  Right away she got to play, and she was having a total blast!  She played with lots of puppies and was really happy about it.

Then we did a lot of talking and training.  There were a LOT of puppies--at least 15, but at some point I lost track.  It's not a big room.

Right next to us was a tiny, 8 week lab puppy.  They met politely, but then when we were playing 'leave it' the puppy stole the food that Nika was leaving, and Nika didn't think that was fair.  She made a little growly snarky noise.  She didn't go at the puppy, just made a noise.  Unfortunately, the teacher was right there and it solidified the idea in her mind that Nika is a 'bad' dog.

So, when the next socialization time came, Nika and three other dogs were told to stay on one side of the ring, on leash, and practice tricks instead of socializing.  I was really upset.  I thought Nika's reaction had been completely reasonable.  I have a reactive dog, but I really don't think Nika is following in those footsteps.  She played perfectly in the first play session!

I was sitting there fuming and doing tricks with Nika (who was awesome!) and Dave gets a gold star.  He proactively, and very kindly asked the teacher if Nika could play too.  Well, we missed that whole play time, but for the next time she allowed us to walk Nika up, leashed, to the friendliest Golden puppy.  Of course she was perfectly good, and after a minute she was allowed to be off leash.  She was perfect for the rest of the class, which was spent in play.  A bunch of other puppies got snarky, but not her.

So, I don't know how anyone could keep 15 or 16 puppies all straight, and I know our teacher just wanted to keep positive interactions, but the whole point of this class is socialization for us.  The actual training part of the class has very little value to us.  We just want her to meet other puppies.  When we're told to keep her out of the mix, that kind of defeats the purpose.  I think I'm kind of glad next week is the last week.  It's been good, but last night was overall more stressful than fun.  I can't wait to be at DogStar, where classes will be smaller and the teacher will be much more invested in us.  Until then, it's project socialization as much as possible...with whatever sliver of 'free time' I can muster.

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