Just a few minutes before writing this post, I walked through my front door with Syrus. Our first Dog Training class was complete and I couldn’t be happier with the little guy. We had a couple of stressful moments but in the end it exceeded my expectations.
Just like kid on his first day if high school, I had a couple of butterflies in my stomach as we approached zero-hour. After the reaction Syrus gave other dogs during his first vet visit, I didn’t have high hopes for him behaving during class.
An hour before class was to start, I packed up our stuff and my wife and I headed out to class. We got there about a half-hour early so that Syrus could get comfortable with the field and do all his sniffing and investigating before class started. We were one of the first people to arrive so we have a large portion of the field to walk Syrus in.
As more people showed up, things began getting a little closer and Syrus was becoming more vocal and excited with the other dogs. On a few occasions he thrashed his body around and made a horrible howling/barking/screaming sort of noise but was easy to get under control.
When the trainer arrived we all needed to get closer together so that we could hear him speak. Before getting into the group, Syrus seemed to have an issue with this very large dog that was being walked near us. This dogs name was Thor and he looked to be some sort of Saint Bernard mix (read: 100+ pounds heavier than Syrus).
When it was time to get together, Syrus and Thor were about 8 feet apart. This immediately sent Syrus into one of his barking/shreaking frenzies. Out of courtesy, I pulled Syrus aside and set myself apart from the group. I moved far enough away that Syrus was no longer reactive (~20 feet). The trainer thanked me for being courteous but asked that I move back to where I was initially. He explained that Syrus was part of the group and that he would have to get used to being in such close quarters with another animal.
When the class got underway, Syrus paid little attention to Thor and was hardly vocal at all. He would occasionally whine and throw out a random bark but was otherwise very relaxed. We worked on learning the heel position and getting the dog to move into it. We also did a little work on walking with our dogs and getting them to pay attention to where we stopped and having them move into the heel position from there.
After the class was complete the trainer complimented us on all of our dogs. He went on to say that the first class went better than he expected. All of the dogs responded very well to treats and there wasn’t a single incident where a dog acted out and became difficult to control.
While waiting for the trainer after class, I spoke briefly with his assistant. She complimented me on Syrus’ attention. It seems that while my eyes were on the Trainer, while he talked, Syrus repeatedly looked up at me for direction. I didn’t realize he was doing it and was thrilled to hear about it.
With week one in the books, and some homework to work on, I’m excited to get started with week two. I’m sure Syrus will become more relaxed as we progress and things will get even easier as we go.
Video of me more or less telling you everything I just wrote