Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Back to School

This year I became a One Tail at a Time Member, which means I get all sorts of great perks and discounts at local dog-related businesses (win!), including 30% off all training sessions from Canine Sports Dog Training.  Itching to get the boys back to work on their skills, I checked out their website and came across a  specific Reactive Dog Class "for dogs that have a hard time keeping a level head in the presence of new dogs, people, or objects."  Thinking this would be the perfect kind of class for our Alfred, I signed him up immediately and took the last spot available (only 4 students are allowed per class).

First class was on Monday evening and we hopped in the car with a bag full of chicken and high hopes...

...neither of which lasted very long.  In a total of about 15 minutes, Alfred managed to go through three whole chicken breasts, have no fewer than two leash melt downs, chomp on the trainers arm at least five times, bleed all over my jeans, throw up, try to eat it, and then try and attack the mop.  Oh, Alfred...we were asked to leave the class.  :(

However (!) trainer Emily spent the rest of the class time talking with us outside while Alfred tried his best to calm down.  The conclusion?  This particular group of dogs wasn't going to work out for Alfred in a class setting, but we're going to try one-on-one sessions to work on whatever we want!  We have some great resources to read through at Dog Star Daily, a few training exercises to get started on, and we're switching him over to a Halti for his walks.

After we finished our talk, I managed to walk back to the car, covered in slobber and blood and holding back tears. As soon as I shut the car door I had a total meltdown, sobbing uncontrollably and lamenting the fact that I ever got off track with our training in the first place.  How could I have gotten so lax with such a serious issue?  Alfred had become so sweet and snuggly at home, I didn't stop to think that his issues with excitability could be getting worse all the while. Scariest of all, I started to imagine situations that would lead us to no longer be able to keep Alfred at all.  I was a wreck.

Luckily, the very next day I had a chance to meet and talk with another SociaBulls member who has trained with CSDT specifically for leash reactivity and she was very reassuring. She even wrote a guest post on Two Pitties in the City on her experiences with her dog Maize, and after reading through it I started to feel that I wasn't alone.  The dog community here in Chicago is so amazing, and I love that I am able to be a part of it.  It means so much to have a support system in place when things get rough, and I couldn't be more grateful.  

And now...the work begins (again)!


  1. I think this is the great thing about the Chicago dog community...there are so many of us that have been through similar things, nut now we're able to help one another. I heard you guys did well on the walk last week; hope to see you soon!

  2. When we were given a chance to take Madden to training I knew she couldn't be even in the reactive dog class, she had to be alone. I know how tough it is when the lovely, amazing dog you have at home struggles so much in life beyond your house. Good luck with the training to follow, you're doing great!

  3. It is so reassuring to hear that other people have these same problems. Schultz is the snuggliest teddy bear at home with me, my husband, and Tess. But he is so difficult to take anywhere because he is scared of strangers and extremely leash reactive to other dogs. I feel like I am doing him an injustice by not taking him in public as often as I do with Tess. I am also overprotective because I am terrified of him getting in a bad situation and getting taken away from me or put down. It's really tough.

  4. Thank you for sharing this story. Mushroom recently started displaying leash reactive behavior, and now I definitely want to get it trained out of her before it becomes worse. Good luck with the one-on-one sessions. We're all cheering you on!

  5. It broke my heart to see Alfred so worked up. He seems terrified under that rough exterior. I'm looking forward to helping you both get back on the right track and restore the beautiful relationship that I know you have!

    Maize is near and dear to my heart. I'm happy that you had time to talk to her. Anita is an amazing person!

  6. I am here for you if you need ANYTHING! I am very familiar with the breakdown of crying and thinking what did I get myself in to and my dog seems like a wild beast. Email me any time. Emily saved us, she never gave up and always had options. You are in good hands with her.