Monday, March 9, 2009

Kicked Out

Of Puppy kindergarten!! Yes, that's right Indy and I got the boot from puppy class.

I did make the decision to try a puppy class with Indy, I figured, what's it going to hurt and the more socialization the better, right? I looked around at schedules of classes offered everywhere I could think of, I only had certain nights available, the class had to advertise itself as using only positive reinforcement and it had to be fairly close.....I'll drive insane distances for good agility lessons, but we're talking about puppy class, how bad could it be?!

I reluctantly signed up for a class at the same place Rudy went to when she was a puppy. There were some things in that class that I wasn't crazy about, but overall we had fun.

Right off the bat, it was a bit awkward. I went into class with Indy already knowing how to do everything they were doing, but I use different hand signals. The owner agreed to let that go, although she seemed very put out by this. No big deal I comes the parts that I really didn't like 1- "puppy management" I have no idea if this is a familiar term or not, but in this class it means that you step on the puppies lead a few inches from their collar, it puts pressure on the dog, and only way it will be relieved is if the puppy chooses to lie down. Fair enough. It's not how I generally do things, I tend to wait for responses I like and reward them, I like the dog to make good decisions, when they have other options. I wouldn't mind putting a puppy in this position for a few moments at a time, but literally every second the puppies weren't working they were in puppy management.....and this added up to a LOT of time. 2- "restraint exercises" I fully agree that dogs need to accept being handled in all sorts of ways, vets need to be able to exam and treat them, we need to be able to trim our dog's nails, and do any type of grooming. I work on these skills with my puppies very gradually, touch a paw = treats, brush you = treat, look in your ears = treat.....all very gradually, in all sorts of positions. It's a game for them. I'm convinced my way works because I've seen the this class puppies were held firmly on their sides and we were instructed to not let them up, no matter how hard they struggled. I saw we were going to be doing this when I read the email with our homework for the following week and got started on teaching Indy to lie on her side, my way (gradually teaching her that good things come to puppies who lie nicely on their sides). Indy was doing well, until the owner came over and felt that I was doing it incorrectly, and placed her hand over Indy's face, which put her in a panic.....I guess Indy's panic equaled proof that "this puppy really needs this" to the owner. I was absolutely seeing red at this point, I kept calm, most people who know me would expect me to storm out the door, causing a scene at this point, but I kept calm.

One of the helpers for the class, asked how I was doing and I made the comments that, I feel like the difficult student, I do things very differently and we're just here for socialization. Apparently that was too much. I woke up the next day to see an email saying that "someone made of point of telling her what I said about her puppy class and she would like to offer me a refund since I'm obviously not happy. Believe me, she just wanted us out of there. I guarantee if Indy was having trouble, or was a "bad" puppy I would never be getting my money back. It was the combination of Indy being....Indy (bouncy happy, operant & focused) and my issues with how things were done that was the problem.

I think the whole thing (kicked out of puppy school) give Indy some street cred! and I'm glad that I stood up for my dog!


Margie said...

You guys rock! You need to buy Indy a Pink Ladies jacket. :-) All I could hear in my head was Beauty School Dropout from Grease. :-)

The Pug Boys said...

Way to Go. You need to start your own puppy class. That way Indy can get socialization. Also the puppies that attend your class will learn in a positive way instead of being forced and traumatized. I feel bad for the people in your previous puppy class that don't know any better. A soft dog may shut down. A dominate dog may bite. Not to mention damaging the owner/dog bond. A puppy class should foster trust between the owner and dog to build self confidence. What is this woman thinking. Applause to you for standing up for Indy.