As we missed school yesterday I thought I should take Rodders today instead. Almost as soon as we got there I thought I had probably made a mistake as the dogs were all a lot older and more experienced but I thought it would be good experience for him and we can swap back to our usual class next week.
While we were waiting I struggled to get Rodders to stay sitting, he was desperate to say hello to the other dogs but neither them, or their owners seemed keen. One strange woman was walking round the edge of the grass with her Doberman and a plastic bag asking it to poo. I was amazed to see that when it did eventually poo it did it straight in to the carrier bag!
Pete, who owns the school, was taking the class and we had never had him as a trainer before either. We started with a walk to heel around the lake with a sit and down thrown in as we went. We stopped alongside the lake in a line and our dogs down. Pete walked along the line and back. He then asked us to step away from our dogs and he did it again. I didn't realise that most people had let go of their leads but I held on to mine and Rodders stayed put. We were off again and Rodders was messing about as he had something caught on him. I don't think Pete was very impressed with that and told us to jog to catch up when we were sorted.
We arrived on the field and were doing walk, turn, walk turn, stop and sit. We then did a right turn so we were all in a row and then the back dog weaved to the front, some of them off lead. One day, this may be us! After we have weaved though twice we then headed up to the field, past the agility, turned right and the dogs were allowed off lead. With all the big dogs about bowling him over Rodders wasn't doing so well and was constantly looking for me and running to me when called. His tail was well between his legs and he seemed quite unsettled by it.
Once we called our dogs to us, not that he was far from my side, we then had to do sit, wait and recall. Rodders is usually very good at this but today he was a nightmare. We were supposed to be moving away for increasing distances but each time I was 5 foot from him he came running back to me without being called. He didn't get many treats for this but I really do think he was a bit spooked.
Once we had done this a few times we were then supposed to walk away again and walk around other dogs, I just gave Rodders a wide berth and he did stay sitting until I returned to him. As we walked back up the field towards the agility course the dogs were meant to be running free, Rodders didn't really leave my side.
As we were waiting to start the agility Pete called me out of the line to check what Rodders was capable of. I told him that he could do the A Frame, the tunnel and low level jumps (about 6 inches) but he wasn't very keen on the lifebelt. He set out some low jumps and got us to go over them two or three times and then sent us back to the queue. We were behind the Doberman.
Rodders did quite well on his first go through but one the second go through Pete wanted him to try a jump about a foot high and he wouldn't do it. I said that I wasn't surprised as he really doesn't try to jump on furniture. That got me a lecture, no dog should be allowed on furniture so there should be no comparison.
When he had finished we walked away and took our place back in the queue behind the Doberman. She asked what breed Rodders was and said how cute he was. As we were talking I noticed that the Doberman had three collars on - a normal collar, a choke chain and a shiny black plastic one. I asked the owner what that was and she told me it is an electric collar. Having never come across them I asked how it worked and she started to talk about dominance and it helped her to stop him terrorising her other dog and made him play nicely. I pressed her a bit further as I was still a bit unsure of how and she became quite defensive and said lots of people here use them and then turned away to pay attention to her dog. I was left feeling a bit uncomfortable by it.
We had another go at the agility and then we all stood in a circle and took turns at getting our dogs to retrieve their tuggy. Rodders did better at this than expected and I got a well done from Pete for encouraging him.
We then headed back towards the classroom with our dogs at heel and made them sit and wait at the door. Once inside we put them in to the down position and the woman with the Doberman came round and did the meet and greet while Pete wrote up his book so he knew who was there. It was then time to pay and leave. As Rodders and I got to the door Pete called us back as he wanted a word. He thinks that I talk to Rodders too much, not always using the 7 training commands and that I am confusing him. Not sure I agree with him!
As we came out Sam was just starting the puppy class and she stopped to ask how Rodders got on. I said we did OK but it was obvious that thy dogs were much older and more experienced and we will be back to Saturday classes from now on. She agreed with me and laughed when I said that he was so spooked it had probably done my recall OK! She also told me that Pete is doing our class next Saturday, we may not be going then.
Since we left class I have been feeling more unsettled by it and I am wondering if it is time to look for a new training school. I don't even know if the electric collar was on today or of it contributed to how well the doberman was doing off lead but the fact that they even allowed it on him in class is enough to say that they condone it and I am not happy with that at all.