We have her first puppy manners class this afternoon. We arrive 20 minutes early, which gives me time to do a little Loose Leash Walking in the parking lot before anyone else arrives. She’s much more relaxed about the cars on the nearby street now that she can see them in daylight. I give her a kibble every time she looks at me and in 3 minutes she’s blasé about the cars. She really doesn’t need work on LLW, she’s doing great.
At least until the next puppy arrives. It’s a Lab about the same age, so taller, but the owner has it sitting near her. Stitch is very excited about it and NOW we need to work on LLW. We’re perfectly situated between the two cars – if she gives me a loose lead, I walk out from between them so she can see the puppy. When the leash tightens, I back up so she can’t see it. Four times is enough to convince her that she needs to keep it loose.
More puppies come – Shih Tzus this time, and smaller than Stitch. Many more puppies, but it only takes three backups to remind her to give me LL. I’m sure the other owners think I’m unfriendly, but I’m standing back where Stitch has a good chance to win, and she’s winning.
I also have time to talk her into getting in the car and into her crate on her own. I’ve replaced her tiny overgrown crate with a soft-side crate that will be the right size for her as an adult, which gives me a chance to lean into it and wrestle with her ever time she gets into it, then ask her to come out and try it again.
The instructor comes and we go inside. Stitch and I wait until the smaller dogs are in, then go in with a few backups. We find our chair from the earlier class and I sit down. Stitch watches the other dogs, but comes back to give me Contact and Sit very quickly. Then we turn all the pups loose to play. The Lab tries bullying the Shih Tzus, then latches on to the instructor’s Pyr puppy. The Shih Tzus talk to each other, and that’s perfect as it gives Stitch a chance to meet and greet on her own terms without drawing too much unwanted attention. She focuses mostly on the people, getting cuddles all around. She’s much more relaxed than she was in the previous class. I’m pleased at her behaviour with the smaller pups. She makes some errors, but in general she’s gentle with them and slower when she’s near them.
The class does some Zen, then Sit, then LLW. Stitch has all this stuff down pat, but what I’m impressed with is her calmness and her ability to concentrate. The leash is loose between exercises, and if the instructor spends any time demonstrating, Stitch lies down and calmly surveys her fellow students, glancing at me occasionally to make sure I’m not interested in paying for anything.
She’s settled in very well. This is the second time she’s been in this venue and she’s very comfortable now. Her ears are back where they belong (the first class, she had them pulled back), and her tail is wagging.
When the majority of puppies leave, I turn her loose with the Pyr puppy, which is younger but the same height and much heavier, and which stood up well to the rough play of the Lab. I’m a bit concerned about her ability to handle this, mentally. I reckon without thinking about the design of each puppy. The Pyr never gets near her. Soon they’re playing with the Pyr plodding sedately around the room waiting for her small attacks, and Stitch zooming and dive-bombing him.
When we go back out to the car, she hops into the car and her crate as if she’s been doing it every day of her life. She’s totally quiet on the way home (she may be unconscious – she’s done a lot of learning today!). A very successful day.