This week, Theo attended his very first puppy-training class! The instructor is the same young lady who gave us one-on-one training for Theo back in late August.
My friend suggested I buy a puppy backpack and take the first-day-of-school photo on the front step. (Yes, I did that for my kids!) Unfortunately I was unable to find one after scouring a number of stores. Maybe next year!
Theo did really well with the training. Besides reviewing puppy potty training (which Theo already had down pat), the main focus the first night was on getting each puppy to walk beside his or her owner and KEEP by his or her owner’s side despite sudden switches in direction (left, right, backwards, 180 degree turns). We were asked to make a loop with our leash and step into it so that the loop hugged our waist. This way the leash was shortened and the puppy was limited in his or her movement thus ensuring he or she would follow us wherever we were going.
Unfortunately when I tried to continue the training the next day (and the next day), it didn’t go so well. I personally found I didn’t like wrapping the leash around my waist and Theo apparently didn’t like it either as expressed by his digging his heels in and refusing to budge.
I decided to modify the exercise by holding most of the leash in my hand so that length of the leash was only a few feet long. This worked better for us. Also, instead of doing abrupt movements over and over, I tried to incorporate more natural movements when we were out for a walk. Finally, to get him to trot beside me for extended periods (rather than the meandering he often prefers) I will say “Let’s Walk” and it (mostly) works.
Lesson learned: Just as any given piece of advice may work for some kids and not others, it is also prudent to adjust training techniques to something that uniquely works for your dog.
During the weekly training sessions, the puppies have a chance to socialize. There were three retriever-type dogs in our class that all had similar dispositions and were of similar size. They tumbled and wrestled together through most of that time, occasionally saying hi to the remaining three dogs. Besides my miniature Schnauzer, there was a Shepherd mix (the biggest but most shy and nervous puppy there), and a Charles spaniel, the only puppy that was Theo’s size. Theo seemed to be most interested in the Shepherd but she was not interested in him, and the spaniel got tired out very quickly and retreated to the wall. So while the three retrievers had a blast, poor Theo and the other two “odd” dogs out mostly just stayed on the fringes.
I really felt for Theo—I could see that he really wanted to join in but the other dogs were just way too big and physical. I really wanted him to find a friend there. It reminded me of my wish for my own kids when they were growing up. We’ll see how this plays out next class!