Last night was our first Puppy Socialization class. I’ve been waiting for this day for an entire month, and when it finally arrived, I was pretty nervous. Would our puppies behave? Would they get along with the other puppies? Would they easily catch onto all the new skills?
But the first challenge was just getting them into the car. Although I had promised myself that I would not raise a dog who hated the car, like my past two, I simply hadn’t had time to practice car riding yet. In the Cesar Milan puppy book I’m reading, the Dog Whisperer recommends not forcing them in or even picking them up and putting them into the car. Instead he says to lure them in with treats … and waiting them out. We had practiced this for the first time over the weekend and eventually both pups hopped in. Last night, Archie leapt in with little prompting or tempting. Daisy was much more hesitant. Because we only had a few minutes to spare (don’t want to be late for the first day of school!), I ended up having to give the girl child a little boost.
Then it was time to try out the new seat belts, which is yet another bit of dog paraphernalia that I’ve never even considered for my dogs but fell for hook, line and sinker this time. It was easy to get them buckled in but in two seconds flat, their belts were crisscrossed. I also realized I had no buckle to plug my own belt into. Oh well! At least the pups would be safe!
When we arrived at 2SpeakDog, most of Archie and Daisy’s classmates were already there. That meant that my kids immediately launched into a screaming, barking, completely frenzied chorus to greet their new friends as I tried to get them all signed in. Oh joy! Because the building is a big warehouse with high ceilings and concrete floors, the echo of the pups’ hissy fit was deafening, not to mention extremely mortifying. I could just imagine all the trainers and other pet owners thinking, “The troublemakers are here!”
Don and I were advised to not sit together with our respective puppies, so they couldn’t feed off each other’s excitement or conversely, lean on each other. Don took Daisy and I took Archie. Daisy calmed down pretty quickly, but Archie kept up a steady whine for at least 15 or 20 minutes of class. Luckily our first lesson was to “settle” our pups.
Playtime, when all the pups were let off leash, was the most fun part of the evening. A large Great Dane pup romped with a tiny pug and a little black and white puppy enjoyed being rolled by all the other, much larger classmates. Daisy and Archie happily made the rounds sniffing butts, begging pets from the humans, and occasionally reconnecting with each other to just say “hi” and then moving on to a new friend. Dad and I were proud of our young’uns.
Our last lesson was to call the puppy’s name and get him or her to make eye contact. Both Daisy and Archie had this skill mastered before we even came to class as I’ve been working on it with their food bowls for weeks. Each time the puppy makes eye contact, you give him or her a treat. As a result, Daisy and Archie had a full belly when we went home.
Last night, Don was just lying in bed staring up at the ceiling. I asked him what he was thinking about. He said, “How well the kids did tonight!” I agreed. We all can’t wait until next week!