We joined into a regular basic obedience class. Blaze did a puppy kindergarten which included mostly socialization with some basic commands. I’m a big believer in keeping pet dogs in training for the first year of life, not necessarily consecutively but 3 or 4 classes is good. It keeps them socialized as well as forces you to practice their obedience commands.
So this class is mostly older dogs (over 8 months) and large dogs. Blaze is the youngest and smallest. The dogs were all pretty hyper, nervous, stressed. We heard lots of barking, whining, jumping, panting, etc. In my classes I always encouraged just feeding dogs for relaxation and looking at the owners. I think it helps calm the dogs to do that for the first five minutes.
Blaze immediately saw friends he wanted to play with and began barking at them to get their attention. So I just ignored him and when he stopped and looked at me (like why aren’t you letting me go over there) I said “yes” and gave a treat. This lasted for about the first few minutes of class and he finally decided it wasn’t worth it, he would just look at me and get food.
We learned sit, down, come and a bit of stay. All of these were easy for Blaze. His struggle was just paying attention to me. I have a game I like to teach dogs early on called gotcha. I pinch their hind area (not hard but in fun) and when they look I say “yes” and give a treat between my knees. This helps them learn to zip around and come to me when they are distracted. Its helped me numerous times with his older brother Nitro.
Another thing we practiced was the come game. The instructor held Blaze by his chest up off the ground slightly and I teased him with some food and ran away from him. I then called him and as he came running, I ran backwards until he caught me at which point I grabbed his collar and gave some food.
I’m hoping next week will bring more relaxation with all the dogs and more focus. No matter how calm or attentive your puppy is, getting them around 8 other crazy dogs will always pose a challenge.