Jack & Maggie at School
SlimDoggy Jack & Maggie had their first ‘socialization’ class last week. Our main purpose in enrolling them was for both of them to get more comfortable around other dogs. Maggie, coming from a breeder farm, was around other dogs all the time, but judging from the bite wounds on her head, she was low girl in the pecking order and while she enjoys the company of other dogs, she doesn’t really interact with them. Jack, on the other hand barely tolerates dogs – he’s not aggressive with them, just doesn’t seem to like them and basically ignores them unless they get too close and in his face and then you hear the low warning growl (And he’s fine with Maggie – totally deferential to her). He prefers the company of people, well, of me truthfully…
I wanted both of them to be a bit more comfortable and while Jack may never want to go romp with his buddies at the dog park, I think Maggie would enjoy it as long as she feels safe enough…so off to school we went.
The class is taught by our dog trainer Barbara Johnson, so we knew that she would understand our dogs and their individual quirks. We get to the class and there are 5 other dogs there – various shapes & sizes. Another Lab, a boxer, and lab-pit-mastiff cross puppy! Jack & Maggie were the oldest there as most of the other dogs were under a year old. Some had some basic training, some had none at all. It was pretty rowdy and a bit overwhelming for our two senior citizens.
Turns out Jack & Maggie were the superstars of the class! We’ve worked with them plenty on the basics since they joined the family and they are solid on their sit, stay, watch me, down…the commands that most of the class were just starting on. My proudest moment came when Barbara started the lesson on sit and called Maggie to her and our little fearful Maggie May walked right up to her, sat down and got her treat! Of course it helps that both of them are EXTREMELY food motivated and they knew that Barbara had treats to dispense!
Even Jack did me proud. At first he showed his complete disinterest in anything going on by sitting with his back to the room staring into my face. The message was clear: “I want nothing to do with all these dogs or people, please pet me or take me home”. Once we pulled out the treats though, he was ready to show his stuff and even with the commotion around him, he did very well.
Before class, Barbara took the dogs outside in a fenced area for a bit of a romp. We took Maggie out, but Jack stayed inside with me until he’s a little more comfortable. Maggie had a good time, but she gets easily overwhelmed in situations like that and scooted behind Steve frequently. After class, we stayed behind and let Jack wander the room with Maggie and another Lab to see how he would react. He did great. The other Lab, being just about a year old was a bit puppyish and Jack gave a few very low growls when he got too rambunctious – but his normal avoidance behavior eventually worked into a few sniffs and while they didn’t ‘play’, with some practice this cute little pup may entice him to romp a bit.
All in all it was a good session and we came away feeling great about their behavior. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera…I know, dumb mistake…so I didn’t get any pictures, so you’ll just have to enjoy these other pics of the two of them. Next class, I will remember.
I recommend working with a trainer and attending these types of classes for you and your dog. Socialization is one of the most critical responsibilities that we have as pet guardians and not enough of us take it as seriously as we should. Many communities have organizations that provide these services. Look into it, you will be glad you did.
Been to training or socialization classes or planning to go? Add your feedback below.
PS. I know there’s no mischief here as they were pretty good, but at the end of the night, poor miss Maggie had a little accident in the room. Too much excitement and not enough potty breaks.