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I took Riley to his first puppy/obed class last night with the local SDA club. There was a great turn-out, maybe 25 dogs with handlers there. As some of you may remember, Riley seems overly aloof, to the point of being shy, or so I thought....Now the jury is out, thank goodness. He did great with the people, no growling, hiding, etc. He ran right up to one of the trainers when we first got there, sniffed, and then went on his merry way. He didn't run right up to everyone and show affection or attempt to get affection, but did walk up to a couple of other people who didn't have dogs with them.

Now the dogs were a different story. At the sight of the first dog, he started barking, and continued this off and on until we started doing obed work. He initially tried to hide from the dogs, not people, by trying to crawl under a truck. During the obed work, he did much better than I ever would have expected, and the other dogs working with us didn't seem to bother him. He did watch everyone, and was somewhat distracted during heeling by worrying about who was behind him when we started changing directions. But mainly he was fretting and watching all the dogs on the sidelines, and I could tell he was still nervous and obviously distracted (he ignored half the treated I offered), especially considering several were barking.

We stayed to watch some of the protection training after the obed classes. There were alot of owners and dogs milling around and at this point Riley started barking at every dog that walked by, once even lunging on his leash at one of the dogs that was ignoring him. I tried distractions, verbal corrections, walking him away, making him sit and down, but could not get him to stop, except when he wanted to meet the pretty belgian
who didn't really care to meet him. He completely "forgot" what leave it means! Do you think the barking and lunging the one time is something to worry about considering this was his first class and first time around other dogs and that many people, and considering he was obviously nervous? I certainly don't want to let this behavior escalate to him being a leash reactive dog, but wonder if it was just a puppy trying on his big bark to look big and bad to the other dogs in a scary, new situation, and if I should just guide him and let him get used to the other dogs being around and work it out himself? If not, any suggestions for stopping the barking now?
Thx!
 

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First, Congrats on what sounds like a pretty good first night.

Second, you over did it. It is too easy for us to push things too far - after all it's going pretty good. Then I find myself staying until it's not going so well after all. I'd suggest that you leave while everything is cool instead of staying to watch. Leave when you have success, don't stay until it turns "not so good."

Let's see how you fare with class #2.
 

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just curious... how old is Riley? I have a 5 month old Female Riley. Didn't realize it was a male name until I started meeting males with the same name... after I named her... oh well =P

anyway- sounds like riley, she barks at new things and i can tell its a little bit of fear/ anxiousness. She is about to start training this week (on Tuesday) and i'm wondering what its going to be like... so I guess I'll let you know how it goes!
 

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Usually the first class is the worst when it comes to beginning obedience and you can see the dogs change as classes continue and they know what to expect. BUT 25 dog in one class is huge and may be a bit overwhelming to your dog and it sounds like he did ok during the working obed part but I would suggest if you want to watch protection work you put Riley away as that sounds like it put him over the top and it will just esculate. As for keeping his attention you may have to move away from what is distracting him(or making him bark) enough so you can get him to keep his attention on you which is the key to catching that before his attention strays and goes into bark mode. Good Luck P.S find wht
Riley reallly likes in food or toys to get his attention with and it should be special not something he gets all the time
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Middleofnowhere: thx. I didn’t think about it that way. Riley was absolutely exhausted afterwards. I’ll head out after the training next time...I feel a little bad for tiring him out so


Sprzybyl: Riley is 18 weeks old today. I have actually heard the name used for one other female besides yours! Good luck at training. Hopefully she will pleasantly surprise you! Let us know what happens


Tawnyhills: I wasn’t really clear about it, but there was roughly a total of 25 dogs there, only about 10 actually doing beginning obed, and the rest were on the sidelines waiting for the advanced and protection classes. Many handlers had several dogs and switched out between them. Many of those 25 were kept in crates until their turns, so it wasn’t quite as chaotic as it sounded
. Re distraction, I had his fav toy and treats, and only fed him half of his normal supper amount before we went, but he only gave his cuz a loving glance once, and ate a few nibbles of treats off and on. Next time I think I will try some stinky cheese
that he doesn't normally get!

There is tentatively a class scheduled again for Tuesday. I'll let you know what happens. Thx everyone!!!
 

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Last night was Riley's 2nd training class. When we first got there, he barked off and on at the other dogs, but not as much as he did after the first class. We did leave immediately after the puppy training was over.

Before we started the training, he was introduced to both trainers' GSDs (one at a time). Riley hackled and wouldn't get very close, but wagged his tail like he wanted to play but was just nervous. After the training, he got to meet another 4 mo old GSD pup. Again he hackled, and alternated between wanting to play and wanting to hide behind me. They did sniff each other and started to romp around, but when the other pup started playfully chasing him, Riley took off like his hiney was on fire. Fortunately he obeyed me when I yelled stop and then he came back to me when I yelled come!!!!!!
I was proud that recall, as I never expected him to obey that one!

The trainer had us to hand our pups off to his helper, who held them while we backed up some distance away and called them to us. Riley did not like being handled by someone else....he was obviously leery of her, which resulted in no hesitation to come to me. He kept twisting around and trying to back away from her.

They always wrap up the training session with a game, where the dogs are encouraged to chase and catch a cloth tied on the end of a whip. As with the first session, Riley just didn't show much interest in this at all, but just intently watched the other dogs. Finally, after the other dogs caught the cloth and left the circle with it, the trainer took time with Riley and the other puppy to ensure that they got to catch the cloth. Riley finally did catch it after I handed the leash to the trainer and encouraged him to get the cloth for me. I am puzzled as to if this is just lack of drive or overload of distractions.

During training, Riley is still very distracted by the other dogs and just doesn't seem to care about anything except watching them, to the point that he would lay down during training to watch the other dogs, and while they were trying to get the dogs to catch the cloth.

I am trying to be patient as we work on socialization as I know he is just an insecure baby,
but sometimes I worry that he will never "outgrow" or be socialized out of his insecurity. Worried mom, I know, but I just never expected to have an insecure GSD. He does so well for me during training at home, and loves to fetch his cuz and frisbee. Don't get me wrong, we will love
and care for him no matter what. But this has left me fretting over the best way to make him more secure and happy in the training and in life. Am I expecting too much too soon???
 
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