Bugsy had her first obedience class last night. There are two other dogs in her class - a 6 month old German Short-haired Pointer, and an 18 month old Lab/Husky mix.
Bugs was terrified. Initially, she wanted to see the other dogs, but her fear took over and she started to growl at them. I placed her in a sit next to me, and she started to "roo" and cry. She quivered like it was freezing, and alternated her "roos" with heavy panting.
The trainer got out the treats and Bugs was all over it. As soon as she smelled the liver treats she was completely focused on the trainer. We have been working on focus at home and it showed. The trainer uses the command "watch me," but I use "look." She was the only dog who understood the look command. I expect my dogs to be looking to me for guidance and she did it perfectly every time.
Then it was the other dogs' turn to work with the trainer, and Buggles got all quivery and noisy again. Except this time she upped the ante and spent the next twenty minutes trying to get in my lap. (Sorry to break it to you, sweetheart, but you're a 70 pound Doberman, not a 5 pound lap dog!) It got to the point where I had to stand up - my lap was just not big enough for her. I placed her in a sit and she leaned into me, which seemed to make her feel a bit better. (Bugs isn't as velcro as Bruno, and doesn't normally lean the way he does.)
I posted about this situation on Doberman Talk and got some very good suggestions. We're going to ease her into socialization and distraction so that she can feel more secure when we're out and about. That means that instead of jumping into a trip to PetSmart, we start out with walks in a quiet neighborhood, then progress to a busier neighborhood, and then near shopping malls, etc.
Our trainer was very impressed with Buggles and said that she shows enormous potential, if we can get her over this socialization issue. She suggested that we start her in agility soon, but take it really easy until her growth plates are closed (around 18 months.)
I'm excited and honored to help Bugs with these issues and help her reach her full potential. She's an amazing dog!!