We had our first training session with the new trainer last night and WHAT A DIFFERENCE! The new trainer is actually an acquaintance of mine, which is good because she knows how I work with my dogs and understands that while I am certainly no Cesar Millan, I am also not an inexperienced, first time dog owner.
We were about ten minutes early to class, and Bugs of course went all nuts over the other dogs that were waiting. There was a cute black lab, about 6 months old, and a little pit mix, also about 6 months old. Both wanted to focus on Bugs as much as she did on them, and lots of snarling and barking happened on all sides, so we took Bugs around behind a display so she couldn't see them. She laid down on the floor, then rolled on her back for belly rubs, so clearly the facility isn't the issue.
Then a man came out of the classroom with his dog. They were about thirty feet away. Bugs leapt to her feet and started her craziness, and I had difficulty controlling her. The man then WALKED HIS DOG OVER TO US and let him get in her face!!! I yelled, "She's dog aggressive! She's dog aggressive! Back up!" They had us cornered in between two large displays and Bugs was just going crazy and this dumbass just stood there and smiled, would not remove his dog. I was THISCLOSE to just letting Bugs go nuts on his dog, but of course that isn't ever a solution. He finally turned around and walked away. His dog was curious and not behaving aggressively but seriously? Seriously? It was not ambiguous in any way that Bugs wanted to eat that dog. Hair up, teeth flashing, growl-barks, lunging. No one could ever misconstrue that for play.
So the guy leaves and then here comes a young girl, in her teens or very early twenties, with the cutest puppy. Oh I wanted to hug that puppy so bad! It looked like a Bernese Mountain Dog. So incredibly cute and floppy and cuddly! Bugs didn't see it that way though and went crazy all over again. And yet again, the handler just stood there. My best friend/sister from another mister, Michelle was with me and she's trying to help me hold Bugs and we're both yelling," Get your dog away! She's going to bite him! GET HIM AWAY!"
The last dog we met was an equally cute chocolate lab puppy. OMG. Seriously, I could not handle the cuteness coming out of this classroom! The lady walked by and Bugs started her shenanigans, I said, "She's dog aggressive," and the lady immediately turned the corner. Her kids, who were older, maybe 12 and 14, wanted to pet Bugs, and as soon as she calmed down, I let them. (And of course they fell in love! She was all full of wiggles and kisses!)
I know this all sounds really bad. It sounds like my Buggles has serious problems, and that she's just a huge jerk who hates everyone.
But the trainer watched her closely in class and thinks its not that at all. She said she needs to see her in action more but she thinks Bugs is unsure of herself and fearful (common for dogs this age) and so we need to get her tons of positive experiences so that her fear doesn't shape her attitude towards other dogs in the long run. Bugs learned quickly that neither me nor the trainer will put up with her focusing on other dogs, or barking. As soon as she does, I stand up and redirect her face (luring with my hand, or by positioning my body so she can't see the other dog.) The instant she chills out, we stop the redirection. After four or five times, she was laying on the floor like the good girl that she is, showing off all her tricks. The black lab and pit mix kept focusing on her and barking and my amazing little gal was still paying 100% attention to me! She just completely ignored them!!
She did try to get in my lap a couple times, and when that didn't work, tried to get in Michelle's lap. Then she went to the end of her lead and attempted to climb up in the trainer's lap!
Despite the way she behaved initially, she had the whole class roaring with laughter, the way she'd roll around on the floor, paw at me, and flop over and groan when we weren't paying attention to her. She really seems to have a sense of humor and knows how to get me laughing.
When we left, she ignored the other dogs and walked beautifully. We got in the car and drove maybe two miles... and then Bugs took a huge crap in the backseat. Apparently the excitement was too much for her! We pulled over and Michelle held Bugs outside while I cleaned it up. Luckily my car is ancient and has leather seats that are easy to wipe clean! Then Bugs decided to climb in my son's booster seat and sit like a kid. She is just so funny and sweet, I can't get over how amazing my girl is!!