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Our first puppy class... not good!

November 25th, 2006, 10:11 PM
Well... we had our first puppy class today. I have a 12 week old JRT. I figured he'd bark, or bite, or generally be bouncy and his usual freaky self. Nope, none of that.

He did... NOTHING.

He wouldn't look at anybody, wouldn't take a treat, wouldn't walk, wouldn't do anything at all. There were just two of us there, and the other dog was a huge thing and barked at poor Tommy all the time, and Tommy just sat there and shook and generally looked pathetically scared. The trainer is fantastic, I drive a bit of a distance just to go to him after meeting with lots and lots of them, and this is definitely NOT his fault - he even got the other dog to shut up and behave, which was no easy feat. Tommy just was too scared.

Then he fell asleep. Completely. Slept right through the last half of the class!!

Tonight he's been awful, peeing on the sofa blanket, peeing in his crate, peeing every 10 minutes just so he can make sure he gets every last single spot in the house I think! He's just so fearful these days, scared of everything - the car ride freaked him out, then the doggy freaked him out, then the car ride home freaked him out, and now we're both paying the price, I think. All he wants is to be on the couch and go to sleep... no matter where I put him or what I do with him, he just keeps trying to get back up on the couch and curl up. Doesn't want food, or treats, or cuddles... just wants on the couch.

*Sigh* poor puppy. Guess we're not going to practice anything tonight. Any suggestions on how to relax my little boy? Or bring out just a wee bit of that JRT 'I'm a big dog who's gonna take over the world' type of attitude? Or is he just too young for so many new things?

Any JRT owners out there who've gone through this?

November 25th, 2006, 10:29 PM
aww!! I'm sorry! Wish I could help but when Bowser was in school he was a dream...until he peed on the trainer :eek: I hope things are better at the next class.

November 25th, 2006, 10:29 PM
How'd you get him? I'm just wondering if it brought back bad rehoming/shelter memories...:o

November 25th, 2006, 10:43 PM
Hah, I expected him to pee on the trainer, actually! Pee, not sleep, lol.

I got him from a breeder, probably a byb now that I know the difference but still a good lady with good doggies and a nice clean farm that he lived on until I brought him home at 8 weeks. He's just become so fearful the last couple of weeks, no real reason, hopefully it's just a phase. He's great on his home turf, but a real scaredy cat anywhere else.

Maybe he's just hopelessly neurotic right now, lol... he won't eat, doesn't care about treats too much unless he's in the mood, and really is only happy when he's on the couch. He's great in his crate when I'm at work on a 9-5 shift (I come home to play for an hour at lunch), but seems to have real trouble if I work 12-8pm. I worked the evil shift yesterday, so maybe he's still really off schedule? I think I'll cut out the evening shifts for a while and see if he adjusts better.

Poor little guy... he's been mostly sleeping since about 7pm, hasn't even had dinner:sad:

November 25th, 2006, 10:59 PM
Maybe you just need to bring him around more. They say that in the first few months of life (after vaccines, of course) your doggy should meet 50 people and visit 200 places.:shrug:

November 26th, 2006, 11:32 AM
He was terribly scared which shut him down. When a dog is that frightened they are flooded with calming chemicals which will cause them to sleep.

Stage fright? How much socialization has he had? He sounds like he was not prepared for either the environment, the other dog or perhaps the confinment of the leash. Something or everything flipped a switch for him.

I would take things extra slowly and then perhaps things will move faster - I know that doesn't make sense - so here goes. If you break down the situation into fragments and get him used to the fragments then start putting them together I bet he can do this.

So take him to similar environments to desensitize him to certain buildings etc. Then strange men, then big dogs then anything else you can add. His socialization window will start to close at about 4 months so you have lots of work to do now. Take him to tons of places. Plan on staying there until he visibly relaxes, then move on to the next place. Start working his vocabulary at home, then outside the house, then down the road, then at Petsmart, Home Depot, the park, around other dogs, with people watching him etc. In order for him to get past his fears he has to move through his fears. When he is fearful DO NOT baby him or 'coo' at him - that will make him worse. Show confidence and kind of ignore the insecurity. Act like this is the best person you have ever met, the best store you have ever seen, the best dog you know, - he should look up to you and see your confidence and think 'well, mom isn't worried, why am I'.

When you go to your next class - take him very early and act like its no big deal. Walk him in and out several times. Go in for 2 seconds then 2 mintues then 5 seconds - until he is bored out of his brain with the place.

Then have him meet the trainer and the dog (seperately) outside of the building. Make it fun and kind of ignore him. Act like you are too busy to notice. But keep showing confidence. Have the trainer hold the leash and walk around (back and forth) with him ignoring him. Then the trainer can squat down but ignore him - don't let him try to pull away either - just find a comfort zone near him. Let him play with the other dog in the building - make sure the other dog has manners - he might need to be on the leash to have good manners.But let them sniff and get comfortable with each other.

These are all attempts to help him get past his fears. But the most vital part of all of this is that you are providing confident leadership. The key is that he knows he is safe with you and you would never put him in harms way. If he knows that then it will be easier for him to trust new situations. This means that you need to provide clear, confident leadership through his days not just when you are in class.

November 26th, 2006, 02:33 PM
Thank you, everybody! Lots of great information and ideas.

Tenderfoot, do you think he's just too young for training classes? I wanted him to start socializing, but perhaps he just can't yet?

I have taken him to every store that allows dogs, as often as possible. I make sure he visits everybody in the neighbourhood that I know frequently - it's not hard for him to meet lots of people, everybody stops when they see a 4 pound puppy! He plays with kids and adults very easily. Once a week I have one of my staff members go home to play with him and let him out at lunch time instead of me doing it, and at least once a week I bring another staff member home with me at lunchtime. He gets to play with different people quite often - men, women, wearing hats and uniforms and not, etc... lots of variety.

He's been to the training area before, and he's met the trainer before... but he's NOT met other dogs. And he's never been barked at before!

At next week's class he'll be one week older... should we take a chance again, or wait? I don't want to traumatize him!

November 26th, 2006, 07:11 PM
So now we know this is a dog thing.

Sounds like you are doing a great job with people and places, but not so much with the vital socialization with dogs.

His age is fine for classes - never too early! And avoiding the situation doesn't teach him to get over it.

I would find someone with an emotionally healthy dog that he can meet and spend time with. Plan on staying with that dog until you see a shift in your dog. At first he is going to hide behind your legs or try to avoid the other dog and then he will start to venture towards him - this could take 45 minutes just to get this far. Don't coddle or baby him. Help him by showing that you like the other dog and want to play with him. If he hides behind you then try to smoothly move away one step every so often to see if he notices.

If you know of a few dogs that get along it would be fine to introduce them to him all at once. They will typically play with each ther and ignore him. He will watch like a child on the first day of school, but then when he sees them having fun he will want to join in too.

You need to stick with it until he shows an interest in playing with the other dog or just follows the other dog. Now he has his confidence back and you can introduce another good dog to him. Try to vary the kinds of dogs but make sure none of them will be too aggressive with him. We don't want this to backfire on us. You are going to have to work hard at this as he only has a few weeks left to really be properly socialized to dogs.

December 2nd, 2006, 09:37 PM
As some of you may have read, Tommy has been having health problems. With the antibiotics he's been doing really well, and eating lots. So, I thought we'd give the training class one more try this week and see what happens. I figured if he was still terrified we'd just leave.

Tommy still wouldn't perform in class, but he was playing with doggies! He met one of the doggies from the earlier class when we were going in, and he was really scared and then ended up playing. Then, he played with the big scary doggy who barked at him last week! He ended up getting cuffed across the head from him, and ran back for more. He was bright, alert, and way more interested in playing with the other dog than he was in class. He didn't want to leave!

We'll practice the tasks at home and see if Tommy can perform a little better, especially since he already knows some of the things he wouldn't do today, but it looks as though he's worked himself out of his fear. I wonder if the little guy just felt so poorly being ill and that was why he was so scared of everything? Or else he's just another week older and feeling more like a JRT!

We went and played with some friends after class, and now I have a very exhausted JRT puppy... just the way it should be!

December 2nd, 2006, 09:50 PM
Glad to hear Tommy is doing much better. We started puppy classes with our pup at 12 weeks and it was very interesting to see the changes each week in all the dogs. A weeks development at this age can be a big change. Don't worry to much about him performing his tasks. They have an attention span of about 10 sec at this age so is really just introducting the concepts (which can then be worked on at home in quiet) and socialization.

ps . make sure the play time doesn't get to rough!

December 2nd, 2006, 11:56 PM
Glad there's improvement. What a cutie! :)