Now that we have a defined goal, obtaining C.L.A.S.S. titles, I feel better about the training we're doing together. We have something new to achieve; now we just have to figure out how to get there. Additionally, the holidays are a tricky time for a dog who needs at least once a week exposure to other dogs to be on her best behavior. To make planning more interesting for me, B and I have dropped out of our reactive dog class (completed? it doesn't feel like we completed it, it feels like we dropped out - but in a good way).
Don't get me wrong, the reactive dog class was a good class. It just wasn't a good class for me and Rubi. Because of the other dog's issues, we weren't able to get close enough to do any real work on Rubi's reactivity. B still learned a lot in that class: how to back up in a straight line, how to target a vertical target, crate games, that her owner has as much trouble sitting still as she does . . . but since we can learn these things anywhere (almost), the instructor and I made a mutual decision that B and I would bow out of the class so that other dogs could benefit from the calm, quiet environment. I joked with my husband that it’d finally happened: we’ve been kicked out of a class.
In the best possible way.
Which leaves me once again with deciding where to go next. I’ve found an instructor I like who teaches a C.L.A.S.S. prep class, and I’m excited to start on that track. Those of you who’ve ever taken a sport dog class with me know that I tend toward over-preparedness. Well, I’m here to tell you that I haven’t changed yet. I’m going to take Maus through the class first and probably test both he and Piper before tackling B. I’ve found that it helps, when working toward a title, to know what will be expected of you both ahead of time.
This means, though, that B most likely won’t be joining the C.L.A.S.S.es until spring-ish. In the meantime, starting January 8th, B will be enrolled in a new, beginner, reactive dog class.
With my husband.
We had a “come to Jesus” moment the other day wherein I realized that I had utterly failed to teach my other half the basics of canine body language and arousal. How embarrassing! Luckily, I already know that I should absolutely, 100% not teach my family members how to train dogs. I simply don’t have the patience to be a good trainer for them. So I did the next best thing for my husband: I found trainers that I trust to do right by my family, and I enrolled B and my husband into their care. And if I can’t keep my mouth shut, I’m not even going to observe their class. (Although I’m hoping to be able to go and watch B work with other people. It’ll be a rare treat to not be the one on the other end of her leash!)
Since Rubi needs to be able to see strange dogs at least once per week in order to maintain her current behavior levels, having her get her maintenance dose of other dogs through someone else should free up my brain-space to focus on other things. Namely, her sound-sensitivity toward other dogs. I’m still not entirely sure how I’ll be tackling this issue, but at least I’ve got room and time to think. I’ve decided not to puncture her ear drums so she can’t hear other dogs ( . . . not that I seriously considered that . . . mostly . . . ). I will be planning a few field trips, and I’ll be getting a desensitization CD, but if you’ve got any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them!
In the meantime, Rubi and I have enrolled in another online class, and we’re having fun finding new ways to work on impulse control. Here’s a short-ish video of one of our at home training sessions: