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December 18, 2009

Lilly and I went to our last class of the year on Wednesday. And, I’m sad to say she had a rough time. It all started with a young, standard poodle who came charging at us (in play) right off the bat. We tried walking away, but Lilly ended up having to engage. She did fine at first with a relatively calm (yet stiff) sniff, but when the dog didn’t go away, Lilly decided to show her teeth and snark.

Honestly, I think the youngster didn’t know what to do with Lilly’s tension, so she just stood still, which is a pretty smart thing to do … really. It’s such a shame Lilly doesn’t always read things right and chooses to react.

It wasn’t anything terrible. Her lip curling and growling were actually pretty controlled. The dog eventually responded to calls to move away.

After that, Lilly seemed to settle in fairly well and work, but her heart just wasn’t in it, so we mostly kept our distance from the group.

After we worked on LEAVE IT and WHOA, the dogs practiced some STAYS. (You can see the poodle on the far right of this shot.)

Later, we worked on STAY with other dogs moving around, so I positioned Lilly near a tree, which meant people would have to give us wider berth as they went around, but I miscalculated the tree’s draw, especially for male dogs. So, Lilly ended up snarking at the yellow lab behind us in the photo above when he stopped to sniff the tree. Lilly thought he was a tad too close.

Poor guy. He wasn’t really paying attention to her at all and got hollered at (by Lilly) for it. He looked so surprised.

After that, she pretty much decided she had had enough and shut down in that uniquely Lilly way.

She slept all the way back to our part of town, so I ran a couple errands and then took her for a quick walk along the creek. Since it was mid-day, during the week, the path was pretty empty, so I let her have the full length of her training lead and just let her walk as she pleased. That improved her mood.

Still, I was pretty bummed. Blame it on the dark time of the year, blame it on the never-ending family medical drama that consumes so much of my bandwidth, or blame it on the cold, but I had hoped to end on the year of so much progress on a better note.


We may have a new contender in the friend department. One of the young guys who lives across the road just got a puppy with his fiance. The dog’s name is Toby, and he is a doodle of some sort (probably labra-doodle) and came from Kansas or Nebraska, which makes me worry about puppy mill origins, but he looks like a real sweetie.

I haven’t met him yet, but when they get back from their holiday travels (he is going along), I hope to see him in person and give Lilly a chance to meet him on her own turf. He isn’t a tiny boy, so who knows. His size and puppiness may be too much for her.

{Photos missing due to massive blog glitch. So sorry.}

About the Author Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related.

I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

  1. Hey, Jennie. I just saw your note. It somehow got slated as inactive.

    You’ll have to find a spot outside where your dog feels somewhat comfortable, in order to do the RP outside. We started here at the house, long before (years) I ever began taking Lilly to strange places in public. And, even now, when we are in a parking lot, for example, the RP is so ingrained that it only takes a couple of minutes (not the full 10-15) of practice to get her to relax.

  2. I have just found your blog and am really enjoying the dog training updates. I am wondering, how to you implement the relaxation protocol outside? I have been working with my dog, who is sensitive to “sudden environmental change” and who I would like to help. She has passed the relaxation protocol inside.

  3. This really opened my eyes to what goes on among dogs. My dog sometimes reacts to other dogs and I never have been able to understand why or to predict it. This helped me to gain a better sense of his inner world.

  4. I’m sorry things in your life are causing your stress and grief. Don’t be too hard on yourself and Lilly about the last class. She may be feeling some of the emotions too.

  5. Thanks, Martha & Me. You know from other places that there is a LOT going on around here that is zapping my mojo. I’m mostly fine, with a strong undertow of losing it. :o)

  6. Yes, the poodle was off leash. We were at a park with an unfenced dog park at the back, so she was WAY out of bounds, but what can you do? Young, wild dogs are just that sometimes.

    Lilly seemed more frustrated than afraid.

  7. Yeah, I think you’re right about the Weds class. It used to be more of the older dogs and longtime classmates. Gigi warned me, and I had seen this particular dog zooming around. I honestly thought moving away and ignoring her would work, but it didn’t.

    We’ll see about the doodle. Either way, I cannot wait to meet him.

  8. Here’s hoping the new year brings you training progress and relief from the family medical dramas. I’ve been feeling a bit down too, so I recognize the tone in your post. Here’s hoping everything looks up soon!

  9. That’s too bad about class. Better luck next time. Despite the crummy finish off to the year at class, you still had plenty of progress with Lilly this year!

    I’m assuming the poodle was offleash? We had a run in with an offleash Weimaraner yesterday (and just about the stupidest dog owner I’ve ever seen). So I feel your pain on that one.

  10. It seems like a lot of young, rambunctious, and naive dogs are going to Wed classes right now. I’m sorry that they were too much for Lilly… I even thought that the last Wed class we went to was pretty wild.

    I do hope that Lilly finds the doodle to be a new dog friend. That would be great!

  11. Shoot – sorry to hear your last class of the season didn’t go better. But don’t forget all the awesome progress you’ve made this year! And maybe Lilly will have a new doodle puppy friend – exciting!

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