18 Weeks 4 Days- Her First Dog Class

Nov 15, 2004 | Stitch's Story

A very light breakfast and we go to class for the first time this evening. There are five adults and large puppies, and Stitch. They start with a play period, for which Stitch is quite comfortable to stand on me and watch. She looks like she’s riding a roller coaster – she really really wants to visit//she really really wants everybody to stay over THERE//she really really wants to visit. She sniffs a couple of dogs from my lap, and I’m careful not to let them come any closer than her nose. Then the class begins and the other dogs go to their own places in the room. Stitch is more comfortable with the larger dogs over THERE and not moving around so much. I’ve brought a freeze-dried wiener (five years in a freezer’ll do that), but she’s happy working for her kibble.

Soon she’s comfortable enough to get off me. I put her on the floor and let her look at the dogs. Every time she glances back at me, she gets a couple of kibbles. Otherwise I leave her alone to watch them. Periodically she loses her nerve and comes back to put paws up and get a cuddle. Then she goes back out to the end of the leash to watch. After a few minutes she comes in and starts working. I’ve never seen her ears pulled back before, and she’s trying to pay attention to what I’m doing with the kibble and at the same time keep an ear on what’s happening behind her. Again, periodically she can’t stand it any more and has to turn and watch. She can give me the behaviours she’s good at already – Sit, Down, Sore Paw, Princess Paw, Target, Watch – but she was reluctant to think hard enough to attempt to learn anything new. What bothered her most was the odd large bark. She’s been listening to Scuba. When Scuba barks, it’s a good idea for Stitch to listen and respond appropriately (“appropriately” generally meaning to get away from Scuba or something Scuba wants). When one of these dogs barks, she can’t see anything she should get away from, which is worrying her a bit.

I take her outside to pee but she can’t – every time she starts to assume the position, a car goes by on the dark street nearby and startles her.

In general, she handles the class very well, but I’m glad I was there to introduce her to a new situation and not expecting her to learn any new behaviours. That would have been asking for too much.

After the other dogs leave, the instructor and I sit and chat for another hour while I toss one handful of kibble after another out onto the floor. That soon gets her delving into odd corners! By the time the second hour is up, she’s much more comfortable. There’s a puppy class starting on Saturday. This one is a Click & Trick class. We could finish this class and accomplish what I want, but we’re going to switch to the baby class where I think she’ll be more comfortable.