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Old 02-05-2014, 09:02 PM   #1
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Default Sherlock's First Puppy Class

Hello, all!

It's been a while, I know. Things have been busy here, but seeing as Sherlock reached a new milestone yesterday, I felt it was time to share.

Yesterday afternoon, we enrolled him in his first puppy class at PetSmart. He spent the day out with me and my dad as we returned some weight management food to our vet (Summers hated it!) and returned a ham to Walmart. It was his first time meeting the staff at our vet because we get his shots at a low-cost clinic. All in all, he was out for a good 5-6 hours with us, and as expected, he was tired and hungry when we finally got home.

Later that night, around 7 o'clock or so, we went to PetSmart for the class. We were there quite a bit early and got the chance to meet one of the other pet parents in the class, along with her puppy, Cooper, who's only a week younger than Sherlock. It was love at first sight! I thought to myself, "Wow, Sherlock's made a new friend! Maybe this class will be fun."

Far from the truth, sad to say.

There weren't but three of us in the class, not including the trainer. The other pet parent had a five-month-old puppy named Luna who was very skittish and not too interested in playing with Sherlock and Cooper. They were absolutely rambunctious and scarred the living daylights out of her. I was so happy for him because it was the first time he had a puppy his age to play with, but he barked the entire time. And when I mean the entire time, I do mean the entire time.

The trainer tried spraying him in the face with water and even using a pheromone spray that's supposed to relax him, but nothing seemed to work. She's been training dogs for 35 years, and she said he's had the worst barking problem she's ever seen. I felt thoroughly embarrassed because he barked so loud that none of us could hear her and she kept forgetting what she was saying. She even looked like she was getting really annoyed, and I felt like she might have been annoyed with me.

When he's at home, he never barks like that. Well, he might for a few minutes, but he eventually quits. This time around, however, he just wouldn't stop at all. Obviously, I think it's because this is the first time he's been around a dog that actually was excited to play with him, but is this how all my classes are going to be? I'm afraid she might even ask me to leave the class because she can't teach us. I really don't know what to do.

Does anyone have any tips or advice?
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Old 02-05-2014, 09:13 PM   #2
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I'm sorry to hear this class didn't go well and that you are discouraged, but don't give up. Look around to see if there are other puppy classes in your area that use more positive training methods.. as in rewarding Sherlock at the times he isn't barking, perhaps through the use of clicker training. I would also ask your vet if s/he has a recommendation for a good class; my pup's vet runs puppy classes, perhaps your vet knows of one near you that also does. If this trainer asks you to leave the class, it is going to be because she is not experienced or knowledgeable enough to work with your pup and speaks to the need to find a trainer with more expertise. I think the social aspects of puppy class are very good for your pup and I can surely understand him being overexcited at his first experience, but I would have a talk with the current trainer to find out what philosophy underlies her methods of teaching to see if you feel it is a good match for what--and how--Sherlock needs to learn.
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Old 02-05-2014, 10:24 PM   #3
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The trainer actually introduced us to clicker training. She had us use the clicker to associate our puppies with their name and to sit.

Although I haven't been using a clicker, Sherlock does know "sit." He also knows "lay down" and "crate," but he gets "bed" and "crate" confused. I don't interchange them at all. I've never told Sherlock to go to bed or any of that when I put him in his crate. I've strictly reserved bed for when I want him to calm down while he's playing.

This was still a great exercise to get him used to the clicker, and I've been using it today while I've been playing with him in short sessions. He seems to know what it means now, which is a great sign!

I doubt the trainer will ask me to leave the class. I admit, I'm a bit paranoid and still a little upset after last night because I was so excited about the class. She took me around the store last night and showed me some options: calming solutions and collars, "Stop It" spray, and anti-bark collars. I don't have money for these products, but I'm thinking about getting some doggie anti-anxiety pills to give him before we go to class.
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Old 02-05-2014, 11:36 PM   #4
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Sorry your first puppy class was frustrating. Don't give up. Sherlock does need to learn, but it takes time. I'm not too sure that I agree with the trainer's approach with it just being the first meeting. Seems like she is more interested in having an easy time at class than anything thing else. Give it another try, but JGLI is right that this trainer just might not be right for you and Sherlock. All trainers are not alike. Please don't give Sherlock anti-anxiety medicine before going to the next class. He's just a puppy. Have patience with him. Good luck.

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