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Old 02-02-2013, 06:10 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Puppy class disaster :-)

Today was Dexter's first puppy class. He started out great, listened well, was calm, sat nicely for petting and meeting strangers. Just my sweet and smart Dexter.

When we met the first few people, I insisted on him sitting down nicely to greet them, and he did. Not everybody listened, unfortunately. Then, 15 minutes into the class he had this Hulk-like transformation! He started jumping up on people and me and started to disrupt the class by whining, pulling on the leash..... When we unleashed the beasts for play time, he ran off and I ceased to exist. He didn't listen at all when I called him about 50 times and he was the last one back on the leash.

How can this dog go from being attached to my hip at all times to acting as if he doesn't know me at all? He's super engaged at home and listens to every word I whisper, but that apparently stops in puppy class. Once we left the class, he was back to being his normal self. What's the best way to deal with him not focussing on me during class?
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Old 02-02-2013, 06:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Don't let him play with the other pups or people. Everything exciting comes from you.
I know people think that their dog needs to socialize with other dogs and people, but just being in the area with them is enough(socialization).

Wherever I've trained, seldom, if ever do we interact with other peoples pups during training, and if a pup runs over to us, we ignore the pup...so the handler can get back the focus where it belongs, on the handler.
I know it is hard to do, but that is how you achieve it. Instead of calling him 50 times, you should have walked over, hooked him up when he blew you off the first time.
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Old 02-02-2013, 06:29 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Sitz&Platz View Post
Today was Dexter's first puppy class. He started out great, listened well, was calm, sat nicely for petting and meeting strangers. Just my sweet and smart Dexter.

When we met the first few people, I insisted on him sitting down nicely to greet them, and he did. Not everybody listened, unfortunately. Then, 15 minutes into the class he had this Hulk-like transformation! He started jumping up on people and me and started to disrupt the class by whining, pulling on the leash.....
How old is he? Sounds like you reached (and went past) his saturation point. He just couldn't contain himself anymore! At this point, his brain is full and he's over-stimulated.

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When we unleashed the beasts for play time, he ran off and I ceased to exist. He didn't listen at all when I called him about 50 times and he was the last one back on the leash.

How can this dog go from being attached to my hip at all times to acting as if he doesn't know me at all? He's super engaged at home and listens to every word I whisper, but that apparently stops in puppy class. Once we left the class, he was back to being his normal self. What's the best way to deal with him not focussing on me during class?
SO his reward for jumping on people, whining, pulling on the leash, was to be released into puppy play time. I know that's not how you intended it, but in his puppy mind that's how it went down. he bounced and whined, and was rewarded with something really fun.

and that's why I don't run this type of puppy class. Next class, you may find that he starts out ok but gets antsy even quicker....or you might get absolutely nothing out of him, all of his focus will be on the other puppies! All too often, instead of the playtime working as a reward for a good class, the playtime becomes the entire focus. And the handler, instead of being part of the fun, becomes the person who STOPS or gets in the way of the fun. It's very difficult for the handler to be anywhere nearly as interesting as a bunch of puppies! It's not the path to a good working relationship.
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Old 02-02-2013, 06:38 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Having puppies play with puppies is not a good idea IMHO. When I taught the classes they were mingling with older safe dogs after class and they played a whole lot calmer then. The older dogs taught them to be appropriate. Puppy play with pups is only fun for the most assertive pup and it gives that pup the wrong message.
15 minutes for your pups good behavior is great and plenty long. You should stop when things go well to prevent him from learning the wrong behavior. So if your lesson is one hour long I would give him a break once in a while and let him settle for a few minutes to take it all in.
I think all puppy classes should have older social dogs available whenever possible. It is very hard to match the class puppies regarding temperament, age and size.
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Old 02-02-2013, 07:49 PM   #5 (permalink)
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"I know people think that their dog needs to socialize with other dogs and people, but just being in the area with them is enough(socialization)."

Onyxgirl, I agree. But the puppy class instructor seemed to have a different take on things, and honestly I didn't know what to expect in class.

DunRingill, he's 14 weeks. And I agree with your assessment of the situation. I basically rewarded his behavior by some off leash time. The reason I called him 50 times is that I wanted him to come back to me instead of "catching" him to put on the leash. When he finally came, I rewarded him for coming, made him sit and put on the leash. But, I definitely went from being his one and only to being the world's worst party pooper!

Wolfydog, how would I give him a break during class? Should I leave the room for a few minutes, when he gets too worked up? Do you think that I should talk with the instructor about my concerns? He did great before we went in. He sat with me and watched all dogs and humans arrive quietly. One guy complimented me on my well behaved puppy and his calm demeanor.

Thanks for the input, guys. This whole thing has really left a bitter taste in my mouth. For one, I don't like the idea of him picking up bad behaviors from a class that I'm paying for. And I really want him to continue to CGC and obedience, which is why I picked that particular training facility in the first place. The other thing is that I just felt absolutely incompetent and incapable of controlling him at 14 weeks! I'm really upset about the way things played out today, mostly because I feel that I should have done better as a handler.
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:01 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The class was too long. The younger they are the shorter the attention span.
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:10 PM   #7 (permalink)
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My six month old turned into a barking, vocalizing maniac our first class. Acted like I wasn't there for a good portion of the time. They weren't allowed to 'meet and great' and that became ALL he wanted to do! So I feel your pain. All the other dogs were able to focus more and do what they were supposed to. My guy has LOTS of energy, and no focus right now when there are other things to explore! Thankfully, that part of puppy hood doesn't last forever.
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:28 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I wish our initial training classes were like yours. All Molly wanted to do was play. Looking back on it, for us, play time should have been 30 minutes and obedience 15 minutes. I feel she learned quicker when she was a bit older. You could always talk to your trainer about "milestones", at what age should your dog have a good recall with distractions.

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Old 02-02-2013, 08:40 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sitz&Platz View Post
Today was Dexter's first puppy class. He started out great, listened well, was calm, sat nicely for petting and meeting strangers. Just my sweet and smart Dexter.

When we met the first few people, I insisted on him sitting down nicely to greet them, and he did. Not everybody listened, unfortunately. Then, 15 minutes into the class he had this Hulk-like transformation! He started jumping up on people and me and started to disrupt the class by whining, pulling on the leash..... When we unleashed the beasts for play time, he ran off and I ceased to exist. He didn't listen at all when I called him about 50 times and he was the last one back on the leash.

How can this dog go from being attached to my hip at all times to acting as if he doesn't know me at all? He's super engaged at home and listens to every word I whisper, but that apparently stops in puppy class. Once we left the class, he was back to being his normal self. What's the best way to deal with him not focussing on me during class?

I'm going to be completely opposite of everyone else here. Mine started classes when she was 13 weeks, so about the same age. Why did he meet the people? Every class I have ever gone to, you get there and wait for everyone else(no contact with other dogs or people), then you begin when they get there...15 minutes into class there is no way that he should have been focused on anyone but you. Do you do things as a group, individually, or both? As far as puppy play time, I don't find it to be an issue if they are all the same age or close to it. He was excited and wanted to play. You shouldn't have called him more then once, if he didn't respond the first time, you should have went to him and leashed him. I would not expect a 14 week old puppy not to be excited to be with other puppies. It was new for him and he has no idea what you expect, so you have to teach it. Working on focus, recall, and leave it will be very valuable. Working on these with distractions is what school is all about it. You want him to be reliable in all situations and now you know he's not, so its up to you to teach him. I think you expected way to much from a puppy that has never been in this situation. As you continue with school, assuming its a good trainer, things will start coming together, with lots of dedication on your end. Good Luck!!
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:45 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
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My six month old turned into a barking, vocalizing maniac our first class. Acted like I wasn't there for a good portion of the time. They weren't allowed to 'meet and great' and that became ALL he wanted to do! So I feel your pain. All the other dogs were able to focus more and do what they were supposed to. My guy has LOTS of energy, and no focus right now when there are other things to explore! Thankfully, that part of puppy hood doesn't last forever.
Jag, the bold part is exactly how I felt! It seemed as if the dogs that had zero-nada-null training behaved better than Dex! Which would be fine if he wasn't so perfect at home. I didn't even know how to react, I just kept thinking "that's not my dog"! Maybe it's a good thing that this happened today, it really makes me think that I need to do a better job in engaging him.

Gretchen, maybe it would have been better to just do a brief introduction and spend the rest of the time with puppy play during the first class. I swear I saw him rolling his eyes at me, saying "my mom is soon annoying, I'm trying to play!"
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