Maybelle and I have been to six out of eight classes now, and we’ve had some mixed (and interesting results). By the third class or so, May was all but ignoring her pitbull buddy. The other owner and I were able to walk past each other without a problem, and eventually we even stopped, asked the dogs to sit and stay while we shook hands and then continued on.
But then the pitbull graduated, and we had to start from scratch. There are only two other dogs in class at the moment, and they both have dog reactivity issues as well — and aren’t necessarily friendly. So we can’t really practice with them. The trainer brought her dog, but he was new to her, and for whatever reason, Maybelle was not loving him.
We’ve practiced all sorts of other Canine Good Citizen skills. She’s been working on sitting and staying while someone comes up and says hello, and greeting people sitting in chairs. She’s met a fake dog, and a fake child, and quite a few real children. Once a little girl asked to pet her and while she was giving May a treat a football landed square at her feet. She was OK with that, but when a herd of small kids came running after the ball she barked and scared them off again. It was actually kind of funny. Kids are dumb.
During our last class, no one else showed up. So it was basically a private session. We weaved in and out of crowds of people, met some more kids,and then watched as she stuck her nose up in the air and started air scenting for dogs we hadn’t even seen yet. That situation is a bit more difficult because I don’t have the benefit of being able to sniff out the dog and she usually ends up seeing it before I do.
The trainer says we’re on the right path, and I’ve seen improvement in more controlled settings. I take her to the dog park to practice sitting and staying while other dogs come and go from the parking lot. Last week I took her to doggy daycare and took my time going inside, waiting for her to be calm before we went inside. She’s been doing better in those situations.
The real problem is not having a dog in class that we can practice the toughest of the tough stuff with. So I think I’m going to enlist the help of friends and their dogs.