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)!