Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Tired Of All This Mad Frustration

I used to love Tuesday nights. Tuesday night meant Gilmore Girls and later, House. Then Gilmore Girls ended and there hasn't been a new episode of House since the writers' strike. Now Tuesday night means puppy school.

I do not love puppy school.

At first I was excited. I thought that Stella would thrive in an environment with other puppies. I thought that she would become more stable and possibly more sedate. Puppy school has not been a positive experience. Stella spends the hour ignoring the instructor, tuning S and me out and straining at her leash to get to the other puppies. We give her a command and she stares at us, eyes full of comprehension and a touch of belligerence. I wave a treat over her nose and tell her to sit. She sighs and sits slowly. I tell her to lie down and she scowls at me, thinking 'F you, F you, F you' in her mind (I'm projecting - this is what I'm thinking when my boss tells me to do something inane. Not that I think I'm Stella's boss; I am quite clear on our relationship and my role in it. If anyone deserves the title of boss in our house, it's definitely Stella.)

Puppy school is frustrating. Stella isn't having fun. S and I are uncomfortable with the instructor's obvious dislike of our puppy and the unspoken judgements of the other puppies' owners. Our puppy is sweet and spirited and comical. She will not win any awards for being best-behaved but if they were handing out awards for most-energetic she would win in a heartbeat. Her energy is what's holding her back in her training (in my humble opinion.) That and her limited attention span. Just watching Stella think is exhausting. My puppy's thought process is a little like this:
Oh! My ball! Do you want to pet me? How about now? Oh! My bone! Hey, did someone fill my food dish when I wasn't looking? *licks bottom of empty food dish* Oh! My ball! Do you want to pet me now? Now? How about now? What's that noise? Oh! My ball!
It's non-stop from 7am until she collapses into a pile of mushy puppy love fifteen hours later.

My puppy is sweet and rebellious and I wouldn't change a thing about her. That's a lie. I would make her stop jumping if I could. It's not so much the jumping up on people I mind (though it is getting old) it's her ongoing attempt to jump up on the kitchen counter. I don't know what she's planning to do if she ever makes it up there but it's scares me (the flooring on one side of the counter is ceramic tiles and on the other side it's hardwood floor - neither provide a soft landing surface for when she wants to jump off the counter.)

Tonight we head to our fourth puppy class. The halfway mark. Give me strength.


  1. Dont give up .. you can do it! And just think of it as practice for ... well when you might fancy ... you know ... perhaps bringing up something of your own ...? I remember it being almost a battle of wills when I had to train my dog as a puppy. Thank God I won - would've been embarrassing having my life ruled by a Yorkie!

  2. Does she get much time with other dogs throughout the week? I started taking Calvin to the dog park regularly just so he'd get used to other pups and it's made him so much more focused in class because he knows what they're all about. That and I try to get him on a solid walk to get rid of whatever energy he might have.

    Don't get frustrated! It should be fun for both of you. Don't give up and think of today as a whole new day.

    (but believe me, I know how frustrating puppies can be)

  3. I think House is now on Mondays at 8, but I do not think there has been a new episode yet since the one that aired after the Super Bowl. Er, or maybe one more. Booo.

    I really wouldn't worry about Stella. She's just a puppy. Puppies can be like that.

  4. Oh how I miss Gilmore Girls! That was an awesome show. I have the complete set on my Amazon wishlist, and one day I'll be able to afford it. :)

    I've never had to train a dog before, but I can imagine it must be frustrating at times. Good luck with Stella!

  5. Don't worry! Only 15 months to go before she starts settling!

  6. It will all be worth it when the class is over so keep with it!

    And all the good tv is on Monday nights now (How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory) so just watch that.

  7. I love Stella's Stream-of-Consciousness"--she's kind of like me online: Hi Web! Do you like me? Blog. Blog. Blog. My Blog. My post. No comments? Why? Blog. Blog. Comment. Laugh. Comment. Delete. Still no comments? Why? Blog. Bathroom break. Blog. Blog. Ebay.

  8. Stella is so cute. I love animal streams-of-thoughts. That totally sounds like how a floppy puppy would think too!

  9. I've only had to deal with cats, and I'm grateful that I never had to take one to Kitten School! If your puppy sits on command, even grudgingly, she's a darn sight more obedient than any cat I've ever met.

  10. A couple of thoughts, as I've done an assload of training and worked with a few behaviorists:

    1. Talk to the instructor before/after class regarding your concerns. You're paying for this class, you shouldn't feel like you're a second class citizen.

    2. I assume you're treating good behavior and ignoring bad? Make sure that you're not feeding her before class.

    2a. Further ot that, give her some exercise before class so she's got her puppy craziness burned off a bit and she can sit and concentrate.

    3. Have one of her meals (I assume you feed 2-4 times a day) fed solely by hand, and make her work for it. Use that as your training session.

    4. If she's jumping a lot, try to distract her by giving her something to do. Stinky treats work well here - basically give her a choice - she can jump or she can have the fabulous lick form the peanut butter jar...

    5. Depending on age, the dog park is probably not a good idea - if she hasn't had all of her shots she can be susceptible to picking up stuff form other dogs.

    Good luck!