Big Dog Class

Little Monkey going to Dog Class

Little Monkey going to Dog Class

Here’s Little Monkey going to dog class.

I know, I know! We are so lucky to live here and enjoy the amazing mountain views as we socialise our dogs on the open field.

Quick recap: I adopted LM as an 18 month old from a rescue organisation. She had previously been adopted, and then returned, by some students. While they had cared for her, they had not thought to socialse her, or take her for walks. As LM is an anxious, unbalanced dog it has been a very long road trying to undo this omission in her puppyhood. That is why I keep taking her to dog class, so she can mix off lead with so many other dogs; sometimes over 30!

In the early years we stood about 5 metres away from the class just observing. All the other dogs would pick on her, chase her, go for her, because they sensed she was unbalanced. In the dog pack it could put the pack in danger, so they wanted to sort her out. I stood between her and the new dog, shooing it away and protecting LM. I still do this with dominant untrained dogs, the new dogs who have no manners, and puppies who know no better. I have no problem with a dog coming to say hello, if it does so in a calm quiet manner, and accepts if LM does not wish to be said hello to!

 

LM and Big Dog Class

LM and Big Dog Class

The photo shows the class in the background, and we are quite a way off still. We saunter along, sniffing trees (well, I don’t sniff trees!) gradually approaching the group of dogs and owners. When I have walked far enough away from the road I make LM sit and stay, then remove her lead. She must not move (if she does, repeat.) Then I walk away a good 20 metres. LM stays. I raise one hand, LM trots straight to me and sits. (I do this every time I let her off the lead when out on a walk.) Now I have her attention I give her two quick pats on the side and off she goes.

We carry on walking towards the class, but obliquely. I never go straight in to class. We then walk all the way round the class, at a distance of maybe 5 to 10 metres. All the while I am summing up all the dogs there. Some I know well, some will be new. LM has taught me well how to read dog body language, and I am on the look out for trouble!

Sure enough one or two high energy youngsters may come running out of the pack and straight up to us. I field them all. Not one is going to make contact with LM without going through me first!

Sometimes LM is off sniffing stuff and these young whippersnappers try their luck throwing their weight around. LM sorts them out! She will bark at them and chase them off. (New owners get quite worried, as they have no idea their dog is doing anything wrong, and they don’t know that LM will not bite.) Other dogs are better behaved, and balanced. These few LM will tolerate.

Most days class is very stressful for poor old unsocialised LM and she drools from anxiety.

LM - Making herself very small at dog class

LM – Making herself very small at dog class

Here, at the start of one class, she makes herself very small and inconspicuous. But despite all her anxiety, she does love going!

It is a perfect opportunity for LM to meet other dogs and I know nothing bad will happen because the trainer is our own Dog Whisperer. So we keep on going, week after week, often twice in a week, year after year.

How long have I been taking LM to class? The whole time that I have had her.

Eight and a half years!

How long will I keep taking her? Till she is 99!

 

 

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35 thoughts on “Big Dog Class

  1. Bridgette's Digits

    “Eight and a half years! How long will I keep taking her? Till she is 99!”

    Awwww… now that’s love and that’s how I love my two little doggiez, as well. Beautiful post!

    ~Bridgette

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  2. ulli

    Her gaze is infinite confidence in you, Scifi.
    She knows your worth. And she doesn’t look like a nearly 10 years old dog – good mom πŸ™‚
    Best wishes,
    Ulli

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  3. Laura

    Love your dedication to her, she is very lucky to have such loving and patient parents. I can relate a bit as Bonnie is starting to get more anxious and reactive on lead greeting other dogs and I feel awful because I don’t have any friends with well balanced dogs for her to socialise with, I’m going to start going to off lead parks with her and pay close attention to body language of her and other dogs to make sure she is having positive socialisation. I really love your tips about not walking straight at the dogs and body blocking other dogs when necessary, I will definitely use these so Bonnie can trust me more in these situations.

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    1. scifihammy Post author

      It is really hard having an anxious dog. Like you say, you really need calm balanced dogs for Bonnie to socialise with. If there are no suitable dog classes in your area, then the dog park on a quiet day is a great alternative. Good Luck! πŸ™‚

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      1. Laura

        We do go to training class every Saturday but there generally is no interaction between dogs during classtime, anytime we do try to greet dogs just before/after class 90% of the time it will be a negative interaction where bonnie will be fine for the first few sniffs and then starts to growl and snap at them without much warning, she never willingly walks away from greetings even when this happens so I always have to call her away. Some dogs in the class can be high energy, barking etc which I think spooks her so I think trying socialisation somewhere else would definitely be helpful.

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      2. scifihammy Post author

        Aw it is so hard. Sounds like she is anxious and scared, so she wants to make friends, then doesn’t really know how to. Matching the energies makes a huge difference too.
        I was at a class like yours, with little interaction. Much better when I found this one, where most of the class is simply socialising, because if you get that right, everything else follows.
        Keep trying!
        Sometimes I keep my dog behind me, and go and say hello to the other dog. this way, the dogs can see and smell each other but with my control. It can take a long time for your dog to get brave, but it is worth all the effort.
        Good Luck! πŸ™‚

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  4. faburlifekhloe

    The love between you and LM is in the air. I appreciate you for being the best mom. Having a cute and sweet dog like her is what makes everything worth it in the end. I can see not only her enjoys the class, but you also enjoy the time when you take her to the class. Beautiful photos and post! ❀

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    1. scifihammy Post author

      Thank you Khloe πŸ™‚
      It is hard work tho! I see the others standing and chatting – while I am always watching out for LM! But, she is so much better than when I first got her, that it is worth it. πŸ™‚

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  5. Tom's Nature-up-close Photography and Mindfulness Blog

    Your care for LM is awesome and loving!
    For my parrots, I play learning videos (and entertainment videos later) for them each day. A few days ago I put on the Muppets and they announced Julie Andrews and the guest star. I said to Tweeti Pie, “Do you like Julie Andrews?” She said “I do. Do you?”
    Yesterday, we clipped the parrots’ nails (which we do every 4 months or so and which they hate). During Tweeti

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    1. scifihammy Post author

      I think your parrots are very lucky to have you – as they are so intelligent, and most people do not give them enough mental stimulation.
      I like that they have a conversation with you πŸ™‚

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  6. quiall

    LM is incredibly lucky to have you! People don’t understand that our pets have the same emotional baggage that we have but it is made worse by our inability to understand them. You do. A good person will take the time to learn.

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    1. scifihammy Post author

      Thank you Quiall πŸ™‚
      I read that a dog that has not been exposed as a puppy to other dogs and all sorts of new situations, will have a smaller brain and be anxious. They never recover from this, but persisting in socialising them will help.
      And LM has other good qualities! She has a lovely smile πŸ˜€

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  7. ladysighs

    If only we trained and cared for our kids as well as you do with LM. I’m as guilty as the next and wish I could do it all over again. (well not really) But at least my 2 brats didn’t scream and run wild around the grocery store while I shopped.
    Nice picture of LM going to Dog Class. πŸ™‚

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  8. Midwestern Plant Girl

    That is so great! LM sure looks like she’s having a great time, abet her anxiety.
    I have to watch Breck because he’s a bit skittish from getting bitten before and Oreo just wants to protect me. They are generally good at the dog park tho. Better when there are less dogs there.

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    1. scifihammy Post author

      Yes, fewer dogs is much better for LM too! She copes all right then.
      At least you take your dogs to the dog park πŸ™‚ And every experience without trouble reinforces their confidence πŸ™‚

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  9. dizzylizzie72

    What a beautiful place to take your dog to class. LM looks unhappy in the last photo. I commend you for the love and attention you give LM. You are her champion and she loves you for it. Keep up the good work . Nice post

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    1. scifihammy Post author

      Thank you πŸ™‚ It is a great place to go and it’s the best thing I can do for LM to help her with her anxiety. She is so much better, but will never be entirely ‘normal’. And she is not anxious at home, so she does all right πŸ™‚

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  10. colinandray

    Can totally relate as Ray too had a background of no training, no socialization, and was frightened of both humans and other dogs. After 2-1/2 years of constant, and controlled, exposure to the “real world” he is a lot better now….. but still has a way to go. Like you, we are 110% behind him for as long as it takes.

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    1. scifihammy Post author

      Thank you for this Colin πŸ™‚
      I can see from reading your posts and seeing your photos of Ray, that you have the patience to keep on exposing Ray to as much as possible. He certainly chose the right family, when he picked you! πŸ™‚

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