**Somehow I missed the October 15 Blog the Change, BUT since this post has actually been typed up and ready to go since the July date, I'll go ahead with it. Let's be real, any chance I get to talk about my pup make me happy. Right now I'm working on just enjoying my workouts again and finding a new post-race routine so this came at the right time!
Before getting Maddux I never really considered taking a dog to training classes. I just kind of figured I could look up what I needed to know online and work with him at home. My sister got a border collie mix several months before I got Maddux and the next think I knew she was at classes all the time trying to figure out her dog. She seemed to really enjoy going to classes with Barley and their relationship definitely improved. When I saw them they just seemed really in sync.
Once I brought Maddux home I really didn't know what to do with him. He seemed like a chill enough guy and I thought I'd hit the jack pot and would just need to love him, play with him, and feed him. Easy enough, right? Then we took a walk and came across other dogs. All of a sudden my sweet, chill guy turned into a rabid honey badger. Ok, not quite, but he was barking his head off, walking backwards so he could stare the other dog down, and lunging. Not only was I kind of embarrassed (a dog who walks backwards? Come on now.), but I was scared that someone might think that my sweet as can be dog was not a nice dog. I didn't want anyone to get the wrong idea about him and then potentially causing trouble for him down the road.
After talking a lot to my sister, I decided that I should sign him up for a reactive dog course. Honestly, it was probably the best decision I could have made for my dog. The class taught me so much and while Maddux still has his moments, I feel much more confident walking him when other dogs are around. The class was just as much for me as it was for him. Since then I've been to two other classes with Maddux as well as some workshops. The classes taught me how to really get to know my dog so that I can help him though his anxious moments as well as prevent him from getting into bad situations. They stress the importance of advocating for your dog. We even practiced telling people, "No, you can't pet my dog," and "My dog needs space," so that we would be more comfortable telling people in real life situations.
The classes were a lot of fun and I really enjoyed them and looked forward to having that special time with my pup. He loved them, too, and you can tell how much he loves to learn and work while we are at the training center. I am so proud of how far my pup has come! I'm definitely keeping my eyes open for more opportunities so we can keep going on the right track.
I wish more people would take the time to train their dogs. It strengthens the relationship between you and your dog so much and eases tension. I used to get so stressed when Maddux would do his barking routine because I just didn't understand how to deal with it. Now we can usually prevent those situations by using some simple commands and our walks are much more pleasant. I think a lot of people's problems with their dogs come from not understanding or not knowing what to do. Training can help you and your dog through it.
So let your dog be a cool dog, school dog and look up some local classes. You won't regret it.