Friday, September 7, 2012

Puppy Class

Like most responsible pet owners, or those of us with naughty dogs, I've enrolled us in an obedience class at Hond en Gedrag.  I went into it with great hope and high expectations and walked away with a much different impression.  My husband says I'm overdramatic and blow things out of proportion, but feelings are feelings (and I am a story teller, of course my wording is elaborate!)  I do my best not to let the Dutch language hold me back, but it can get challenging at times.  I attended toddler swimming and water aerobics in Dutch, I did all of my driving lessons and examines in Dutch, I even used to work 40hrs a week at UPS in Dutch, and now puppy obedience class.  With every new situation new words apply, this may seem strange to someone who gets to speak their mother-tongue all day but those of us speaking a 2nd language you understand.  Your vocabulary grows with each new activity.
Back to puppy class, here I am foreign and already a bit shy about speaking Dutch in front of a group of 10-20 Dutch people and of course I had the worst puppy in the class bringing a lot of unwanted attention to myself.  Maggie, our puppy - a Wheaten Terrier, is a different dog inside and outside of the house.  At home she listens for the most part and follows commands, outside of the house she is a hyper and excited wreck.  And of course she didn't let me down at class.  She continuously tried to get away from me, she jumped & flopped all over the place, and even took a dump in the middle of the group (the only dog that went #2).  She barely followed any commands, even ones she was accustomed to.  I couldn't get her attention to save my life, everything was more interesting... the other pups, the people, the rabbit poop, the grass, my toddler & husband, the sheep, the kids playing soccer in the distance, you name it.  The trainers have you work in a circle and if a puppy is too distracted (or distracting to the group) they ask you to step back a little.  By the time the last exercise came around the trainer actually asked me to go outside of the fenced in area to work with Maggie, it was that bad.  This is great for a foreigner, I could barely hear what was going on, luckily my husband heard a few key things I missed.  After class I was mad, mad at myself for not being able to take control, mad at the dog for acting like an idiot, just plain all around frustrated.  If I could have found a way to quit right then I would have (even though this isn't in my personality).  At that point I knew I had to get a hold of myself, all of this was my fault, I watch enough Cesar Millan to know my attitude and reactions drastically affect theirs (this is also common sense).  Besides the periodic comments from family that if the dog is too overwhelming we can get rid of it, I knew I had to prove myself.  I'm stubborn, I'm not a quitter, and when I set my mind to something, watch out!
Over the next week I worked with her as often as I could, but I was still nervous about class.  When class day rolled around my mother-in-law gave me a pep talk and a few simple instructions and off we went.  This time just me & Maggie.  I approached it with a different attitude, I knew she was going to act up, I knew she was going to embarrass me, and I knew this is what the rest of the class expected also.  It could only get better from there.  When we entered I let her greet a few dogs even thought the trainers complained, she needed to get it out of her system.  When she pooped, I made sure to have a baggie this time.  And I was better prepared in general, baggie for the treats, outside toy, and I did my best to relax and take it all in stride.  Between each command I would give her a break (tip from the M-I-T), let her eat the grass and rabbit poop then return to training.  She was focused, she was ready, and she made me proud.  What a difference a couple of adjustments can make.  Of course she had her moments, during one exercise they were off the leash and supposed to come when called, she took off.  Apparently I left too much distance between us, she realized she wasn't on the leash and high tailed it around the fenced in training area.  Maggie had the time of her life, finally she could greet the other dogs and check out the training area, I couldn't help but laugh (she wasn't the only pup that took off).  I left the class with a smile and pep in my step, let's just hope I can get out of my own way next class.  (Surprisingly a tip I picked up from my husbands golf training audio book).
I've included two photos of Maggie, one from about a month ago, and one now that she's almost two times that size and after a hair cut.  We asked for a puppy cut and ended up with something else, maybe next time my husband should go with to the groomer.


  1. From what you describe I think dogs and kids are very similar lol. You sometimes wonder how something so cute can cause such chaos!

    Thanks for sharing with my NO RULES Weekend Blog Party!


  2. I know, I felt bad comparing a puppy to a baby but there are similarities. :) Danica