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Discussion Starter #1
Our GS pup will be 6 months on Saturday and we have been working with her and our other dog for months. She walks on a leash great (no pulling, heals, etc), she sits, lies down, comes, all on command. She is GREAT! Then we took her to obedience class... and she barked the ENTIRE hour (a high pitched, ear piercing bark). The class is held outdoors in a grassy area. There were about 15 dogs total in the class, all different ages and sizes. We have been socializing her every chance we get. We even had a puppy party where all our friends with dogs came over and let the dogs all play. However, the issue (at least according to the trainer) is that she is on a leash, having to interact with all of the other dogs, who are also leashed. I tried searching for a post already, but did not find one, so I apologize if this has already been asked, but is there anything I can do to minimize the constant barking? We have 7 more weeks of this and I am hoping she will get better. Has anyone dealt with this? And if so, what did you do? Thank you!
 

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Shasta had never been in a formal class before. I trained her at home myself and did all her socialization without the use of a class so when I signed up for my classes to become an obedience trainer, part of the externship included assisting and attending a full set of obedience classes with my dog or a friendly neighbors dog. Shasta was so excited the first class she barked and whined and just carried on. She couldn't sit still.

the second class she was calmer but still excited. Third class, she was sleeping on the floor bored because she finally figured out the class wasn't nearly as much fun as she'd hoped and she couldn't play.

For a lot of dogs, it's a new excitable situation that they just need to get in the swing of things. She's 6 months old. This is new to her. I imagine after a couple classes, she'll calm down some or a lot and it won't be so exciting to her anymore. I'm actually nervous about attending classes in the next few months with my new guy because of how vocal he is. This guy has some lungs on him at 8 weeks, I can only imagine the noise he'll be able to make when he's bigger and we're signed up for classes!

oh BTW, Shasta was about 2 when she went to her first OB class. So it happens at any age!

Good luck and have fun! Remember, it's just a basis for you to teach your dog!!! Sounds like she's doing good already so work it!
 

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Thank you so much for the reply.. It makes me feel much better. We will keep going, even if she is the loudest, most obnoxious dog there. :) It was just overwhelming given how good she normally is. But she is vocal at home all the time (but not barking per say- just her "talking"). I just felt like she was bothering everyone else, but if its simply excitement, then they will just have to deal with it! Thanks again- and good luck with your new pup!
 

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Thank you so much for the reply.. It makes me feel much better. We will keep going, even if she is the loudest, most obnoxious dog there. :) It was just overwhelming given how good she normally is. But she is vocal at home all the time (but not barking per say- just her "talking"). I just felt like she was bothering everyone else, but if its simply excitement, then they will just have to deal with it! Thanks again- and good luck with your new pup!

Thanks and no problem!

Something to consider, when she's overly vocal in class, remove her from the area until she calms down. When she calms down, return to the class area. If she starts getting too loud again, walk away. Praise her when she quiets/calms. I know some instructors will ask you to move your dog to an area you can still participate in the class but your dog also cant see their classmates. Kind of like removing the temptation so to speak. Most dogs adjust and get over their excitement pretty quickly while some never do but IME, the ones who don't are few. It's simply a new thing to expose her experience meter too. I think after the novelty wears off, she'll not be nearly as excitable about class. She'll enjoy going but the craziness will diminish.
 

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Does she have a command like "place" or "bed" where she has a specific spot that she has to go lie down? When we did group classes I brought a small blanket, I put it beside my chair and when we weren't actively training he was on the blanket. That way he knew he wasn't allowed to roam or interact with the other dogs, he was to stay on the blanket when told.

I also found he got bored easily, so I brought a toy (in my case a tug) at my trainer's suggestion and we played quietly while the trainer was talking. It kept him occupied and I was able to listen and play with him at the same time while not distracting anyone. We also worked on obedience throughout the class, so we practiced our sits, downs, stands, etc during the quiet times. We also did lots of treats for focusing on me, a great tool for the real world where distractions are everywhere.

Hopefully it was just first day jitters, and the second and third classes will be much better as he learns that classes are for learning and not play :)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hi Kzoppa, yes, they had me walk away with her at first and come back but it didn't seem to help much. As soon as she came back, she would start barking and carrying on and if she could even see or hear the other dogs, even from a distance, she would bark like crazy. She is also very protective of me, so that could be an issue too. I just pray she gets over the excitement. :)
 

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Hi Shanna,

She is crate trained and also knows where her bed is, but I don't think she is bored yet! LOL! I planned to bring a toy or two when she (hopefully) gets to that point and she becomes bored. Most of the commands she already knows, this class was more for getting her used to other dogs. Thank you!
 

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My instructor allowed me to have a visual barrier... An xpen w blanket over it as an example... That blocked his view of the other dogs... Allowed him to hear but relax enuf to work in class... As he grew more comfortable we would move out from behind it and eventually didnt need it
 

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Then we took her to obedience class... and she barked the ENTIRE hour (a high pitched, ear piercing bark).
This is actually very common on the first day of a class for young dogs.

Next week bring SUPER high value treats with you - like chunks of cooked chicken breast - and work on getting her attention back on you.
 

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Great advice in here! I will say I had about the same experience with my 6 month old (Duck Toller) last night at our first obedience class. The instructor just had us start off well away from any of the other dogs, and told me to just ignore her until she calms down. The moment she stopped barking or sat, I clicked and treated. This pretty much went on the entire class. Eventually we were able to get much closer, and my pup was sitting calmly. She would start up again of course, but after a bit would settle (click, treat!) she was getting the idea of things.

It is hard these first classes! Normal behavior I think for some. My instructor had no issues with it, just told us how to handle it and things will improve I am sure. She was 100times better by the end, and would even listen and do commands. We know already the basics, we just need this socialization and distractions.
 

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Hi Kzoppa, yes, they had me walk away with her at first and come back but it didn't seem to help much. As soon as she came back, she would start barking and carrying on and if she could even see or hear the other dogs, even from a distance, she would bark like crazy. She is also very protective of me, so that could be an issue too. I just pray she gets over the excitement. :)

after walking away several times when she starts barking, she'll connect that her behavior gets her removed from what excites her if she cant control herself. They tend to learn pretty quick the rules of that game. That's why I can be so effective to teach them to chill out in those situations. They learn if they don't calm down and pay attention, despite all the excitement going on, they get removed from it until they can behave themselves. Good luck!!! Remember to have fun!
 

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It's completely normal for the first session (even 2nd) to be CRAZY, such a completely new situation for many of the pups (not just yours) so they react off of each other.

Keep up your normal weekly socialization trips (click this --> http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/development-socialization/89870-why-bother-socialize-i-want-photos-videos-puppies-dogs.html ) plus now you can start adding the obedience training to the mix.

You'll find it's amazing how the class dynamics have changed over the next few weeks with all the pups if the owners do their homework. Plus there are always the lazy owners with the worst pups that give up and quit to thin out the ranks!

:)
 

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I agree with KZoppa, Lauri, and MaggieRoseLee that this is pretty common for the first night of class, and not necessarily something to be concerned about. As she gets accustomed to the new place, the new dogs, and the new people, she should start to settle down.

Shade's suggestion of keeping her occupied is a very good idea - I found that if I was going to lose my dog's focus in a class, it was when we were sitting and listening to the instructor explain what we were to work on next, and then demonstrating it. As long as we were moving and doing something together it was usually fine, so have a plan to keep her focused on you during those times that the instructor is speaking to the class. Halo had been trained to go to a mat, so I'd bring that to classes, and cue her to lay on it. I could just drop a treat between her front paws occasionally to reward her staying there and giving me eye contact.

With other dogs, I'd do some hand targeting (I've taught my dogs to "touch" their nose to my palm), or work on "watch" for treats. A tug is great as long as it doesn't amp her up too much. Have you taught her an "out" command yet to drop the toy?

Use your imagination!
 

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Here is a good one for you that will probably make you feel better:

We enrolled Sylar in puppy classes at Petsmart at 12 weeks. Prior to the class he was solid in basic commands and could do them from a distance. He was also very socialized with other family dogs off leash. When we took him to puppy class (small room with six dogs) all leashed he went COMPLETELY vocal. It was ear-piercing, loud and hard to break his concentration. He thought this would be a play ground and he thought VERY wrong! The instructor ended up putting a head halter on him to quite him down. After two adjustments it seemed to work. Half-way through the class he managed to remove it using his dew claw to pull off the halter. But by then he settled down enough TO BE tolerable.

Interesting things about the class he was by far the biggest dog. All the dogs in the class were toy dogs except for a Border collie puppy. When walking in one woman said this is a puppy class not a dog class. I kindly told he is only 12 weeks. A few people in the class said well we finally have a barker.

By the second class he was much calmer and didn’t need a halter but was still vocal. In addition he wasn’t giving us adequate attention (still driven to play). He was still the rowdy one in class. HOWEVER, by the third class well he settled down completely! EVERYONE thought he was a different dog. FINALLY, he was the dog that I knew. During that class we were going over basics, sit, down and stay. When it was our turn to take center room he seized the spotlight. Unlike the other dogs I put him in a sit stay walked to end of the six foot leash dropped it and had him sit, down, stand , down, sit and walked back to him and rewarded. The class went ecstatic and started clapping. They wanted to know how I did it without a food lure. His classmates still needed to be lured into position.

On a final note….during that same class when we let the dogs interacted the border collie that was the star pupil until that day was dog aggressive/fearful. It barked like a maniac, tried to hide behind the owners, showed teeth and snarled when another dog came within a few feet of her.

I guess morale of the story is patience and looks can be deceiving. Your prior training will shine through!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
This is actually very common on the first day of a class for young dogs.

Next week bring SUPER high value treats with you - like chunks of cooked chicken breast - and work on getting her attention back on you.
Thank you for the suggestion. Do you know of any high value treats that are gentle on their tummies? She can only tolerate the wellness brand soft treats for now- everything else we gave her has ended in diarrhea. :(
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Here is a good one for you that will probably make you feel better:

We enrolled Sylar in puppy classes at Petsmart at 12 weeks. Prior to the class he was solid in basic commands and could do them from a distance. He was also very socialized with other family dogs off leash. When we took him to puppy class (small room with six dogs) all leashed he went COMPLETELY vocal. It was ear-piercing, loud and hard to break his concentration. He thought this would be a play ground and he thought VERY wrong! The instructor ended up putting a head halter on him to quite him down. After two adjustments it seemed to work. Half-way through the class he managed to remove it using his dew claw to pull off the halter. But by then he settled down enough TO BE tolerable.

Interesting things about the class he was by far the biggest dog. All the dogs in the class were toy dogs except for a Border collie puppy. When walking in one woman said this is a puppy class not a dog class. I kindly told he is only 12 weeks. A few people in the class said well we finally have a barker.

By the second class he was much calmer and didn’t need a halter but was still vocal. In addition he wasn’t giving us adequate attention (still driven to play). He was still the rowdy one in class. HOWEVER, by the third class well he settled down completely! EVERYONE thought he was a different dog. FINALLY, he was the dog that I knew. During that class we were going over basics, sit, down and stay. When it was our turn to take center room he seized the spotlight. Unlike the other dogs I put him in a sit stay walked to end of the six foot leash dropped it and had him sit, down, stand , down, sit and walked back to him and rewarded. The class went ecstatic and started clapping. They wanted to know how I did it without a food lure. His classmates still needed to be lured into position.

On a final note….during that same class when we let the dogs interacted the border collie that was the star pupil until that day was dog aggressive/fearful. It barked like a maniac, tried to hide behind the owners, showed teeth and snarled when another dog came within a few feet of her.

I guess morale of the story is patience and looks can be deceiving. Your prior training will shine through!
Thank you so much for sharing this! There was one other women who gave me a little bit of a hard time too, I politely reminded her it was the FIRST day of class! :)

The trainers did not seem too concerned as they have shepherds so they felt it was pretty normal. I was just surprised at how different she acted! I plan to continue working with her every day as we have been. I just hope she settles down a bit so I can actually hear the trainer. LOL
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thank you all for the suggestions! These are great ideas and tips. I have faith in her! She will get better, and she is such a great dog. On a side note, is it a good idea to have my husband and I switch/rotate with her so we both handle her during the obedience classes? Or is it best for me to continue handling her every time? We have our other dog in the class too (although we stay away from each other so they can socialize with OTHER dogs and not just each other). Thank you all again for the wonderful feedback! :)
 

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It's called being a dog! Maturity takes care of the barking, just enjoy her as an owner and as a parent!
 

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Talking and barking

I suspect she will be fine and get better with time. Anna does the same thing the first time or two with a new class/group of dogs. She gets really excited, happy, revved up, and feels compelled to vocalize. We also use targeting and a toy or two to distract her sometimes. A shepherd we had years ago did the same thing. Some people think they are real terrors the first lesson, but by the end of the classes they are usually one of the "star pupils". Hang in there.....it will get better :)
 

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Discussion Starter #20
So we are now approaching graduation next week and she is still as reactive as ever. She is not even technically in the training class anymore because her barking and over-reacting made it hard for others to hear. So I walk her around the park next door to the training arena, so she is still able to see the dogs and I am not completely wasting my money. The trainers will come over and work one on one with us for a little bit here and there. She is just very reactive to other dogs. The issue is where I live. She only interacts with dogs on walks, when she and the other dog are leashed and forced to interact with each other head on (in which she usually freaks out and scares the other owner and dog half to death). I have tried the gentle leader, which she will figure a way out of when a dog approaches (and it is fitted correctly) and I use the martingale collar. I try to get her to focus on me, make eye contact, etc. But as soon as she knows the dog is there (even if it is a block or two away) her concentration is GONE! So frustrating. I praying she grows out of it. She is an amazing dog outside of this one issue.
 
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