Steve and I took Dionne to her first puppy class last night. Attending class every two weeks or so is something you’re supposed to do throughout your time with a CCI pup, and we go to the ones held in central San Diego in a facility that the SD Police Department makes available for community meetings. Our instructor, Bob, is a SDPD canine cop, as was his predecessor Mike. The two have had different styles, but we’ve liked them both — both know a lot about dogs.
It’s kind of a hassle to get to class, particularly the first level (known as Puppy Kingergarten, or KPT), held as it is at 5:30 p.m. Mondays. That means we have to fight the traffic at a time when we’re getting hungry. But last night I was reminded of its value. Even though we’re now on our fifth pup, we forget a lot from one to another — or never learned various skills well enough in the first place. Last night Bob reminded us of subtleties in the best way to lead a young puppy into a “down” command and other fine points. Other experienced puppy raisers in each group jump in to make suggestions about one thing or another. When the little one last night next to us started barking aggressively at one point, one of those veterans commented, “Time to get a squirt bottle” (a useful tool for squelching bad behavior.)
As for Dionne, she was enthralled for most of the evening. When we entered the room, she almost exploded with ecstatic excitement: there were other DOGS in the room! Small dogs like her! They smelled so fascinating!!! If we would just let her go, she could go up and play with them!!!!
Obtusely, we continued to hold her. She quivered, squeaked, moaned. From time to time, she lunged for one attraction or another.
But she also walked fairly nicely on the leash, when it was our turn to perform. She has already learned to sit, and she demonstrated that nicely. She practiced going Down.
As hard as it is to imagine, she’ll be a largish dog waiting at doors, doing Down-Stays, and performing other tasks in just a few months. Puppy class is the path to that.