Monday, August 4, 2014

Dog 'Training Classes' or Dog 'Torture'...My Dog Might Say the Later.

Yesterday wast the first day of my puppy, Miss Hollywood's, Basic Training Dog Obedience Class.  We (well, I) was really excited about attending the class.  Hollywood is half Rottweiler, and 1/4 each Shar-Pei & Boxer, and at just 5 months old she already weighs over 40 pounds and is pretty good sized.  I know that when she is full grown I will need to be in control of her or she will take over

Miss Hollywood at 5 months (7/20/14) Looks like a High School Graduation Photo, lol

In preparation for the class I attended the 2 hour human class, which was an orientation for the class and to train us humans how to train our dogs.  After the orientation I was feeling pretty confident with my home training so far.  She learned 'sit', 'laydown', and 'wait' for her food until I said to eat, both with verbal and hand signal commands.  She also learned 'leave-it' (good for on a walk passing an irresistible cat poop) and 'drop-it' (for when she has my shoe or is sneaking out of my room with my underwear in her mouth).  So I thought we were ready.

Arrival at Class

We had to drive over an hour away to the class.  The class is downtown with lots of city traffic that Hollywood is not use to.  She was very nervous when I got her out of the car a few blocks away.  I thought we could take the walk to the class to relieve herself but the traffic and people proved to be too distracting so she didn't stop to pee.  When we arrived, we were the last of 6 people, so the only place left was next to my daughter and her dog Bear.  Hollywood and Bear recognized each other and while Bear was behaving, Hollywood was being obnoxious wanting to play with him and the other dogs in the room.  I tried to keep her near me while the instructor spoke buy Hollywood kept acting up and pulling at the end of her leash tethered to the wall in our area.

The First Lesson

When it was time to do our first lesson I could not get Hollywood's attention. She was too busy watching the other dogs and their owners and trying to get to them to play.  The teacher approached us and Hollywood pee'd all over.  I had to stop trying to get her attention and clean up the pee.  The teacher put up a barrier around Hollywood and I, so she wouldn't be distracted by everyone else.  That didn't work as planned, Hollywood started jumping up and pulling the barrier down.  So we missed the first and second lesson while I was busy trying to get her to stop pulling down the barrier and focus on me so I could instruct her.  It was a losing battle.  The teacher came over again and tried moving the barrier further away so Hollywood could not reach it and told me to just ignore her and keep trying to work the lesson with Hollywood.  By this time I was so frustrated because she never acted this way at home.  Yes, it was her first time in a crowd like this, but my goodness had she checked her brains at the door?

Then Shit Hit the Fan...Literally

My frustration was apparently transferred to her through the lease and she became extremely stressed.  Not only was she not focusing on me, not following commands, still trying to knock the barrier down, but now she developed the screaming shits!  I wanted to just crawl behind the barrier myself and hide.  My daughters boyfriend took over their dog and my daughter took Hollywood out the back door to a vacant parking lot to let her de-stress a moment and finish pooping, while I got down on my knees in front of everyone else and cleaned up a huge mess of dog diarrhea in my area. 

I was embarrassed by her behavior, upset with myself for getting so frustrated, and felt so guilty for causing her so much stress that she got the screaming shits.  My own stomach was churning because of this situation and I began to cry.  Boy, did we make a good first impression on this class. 

I went outside to try to calm myself down and relieve my daughter of taking care of my dog so she could go back inside to work with hers.  By the time we were both sort of in control and went back inside we had missed over half of the class.  I just sat in the chair in my area with Hollywood at my side.  I told the instructor we would just observe quietly for the rest of the class.  We were able to join in on the final lesson and Hollywood did perform it okay.  I think she was just so drained by that time that she didn't care about anyone else there.

"Please Stay After Class"

After class ended the teacher and I talked about what happened.  She said that because we live in a very rural area we just weren't able to exposed Hollywood to enough other people or dogs, like in this setting.  Combine that with the fact that she already has self-confidence issues from being taken away from her mother so early (we got her at 4 weeks old), and its actually not too abnormal for this to have happened.  She said she wanted me to bring her to a structured puppy play class on Friday (before her next training class on Sunday) so this place wont be a scary setting for her. 

When I left, my eyes were still swollen and red from crying.  I stopped at Starbucks for a frappuchino (trying to pep myself up).  I know the poor young man behind the counter wanted to come around and hug me.  (They are so sweet there.)  I continued to cry about halfway home, feeling like the worst doggy-mom in the world for upsetting my baby to the point she got the screaming shits. 

After the Tears Dried

When I finally stopped crying, I came up with a plan and made a vow to correct this so she would never feel that way again. My plan is to work with her more at home to help build her confidence and try to expose her to more people and different places this week.  Then on Friday, before the puppy play class I will spend about half an hour at the public park throwing the ball for her while she is on her 50' leash.  This will let her have lots fun with other people and dogs around, but not right next to us, so she will maybe wear herself out, allowing her to be more calm in class.  (And hopefully empty her bladder and bowls thoroughly before class.)  I will do this before each training class as well.

I need to have her be an obedient and well-behaved dog since she is going to be so big, but I never want to cause her so much physical and emotional discomfort again.

I will let you know how it goes...

Keeper of 1 husband, 2 grandkids, 3 dogs,
3 cats, and 17 Chickens!
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