Growly Class III: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Our Growly Class trainer Deborah likes to say we should all be "cautiously positive" in how we handle the dogs. That should also apply to our expectations for their performance. Gianna behaved "OK" in class last night. She was better than the first class, but not as good as the second class. She didn't bite us (though she got Deborah), but she was more reactive to other dogs, even small dogs, than we hoped. As a result, she was demoted back to the "outer circle."

Amanda took the reins for the first time during this class, and she was great. It's a lot of work constantly watching your dog, hearing the trainer's instructions, staying positive (happy voice!), keeping treats at ready to reward positive responses and being ready to pull your dog back to stop negative responses (lunging, barking, growling).

We were a little more frustrated and tired than we hoped by the end of class. Gianna slept like a rock. I think she's still sleeping.

Amanda was upset because another dog owner in class was surprised to hear us say that Gianna is actually really great at doggy daycare, dog parks, at home and really any situation when she's not hooked on a leash. (You make small talk with the other dog owners when you're in these situations to calm the mood, if anything.) Of course, the other dog owners have only seen her act like a spazz in class, so that's to be expected. We just don't like the idea that other people don't trust Gianna like we do. But trust is earned, and Gianna has work ahead before she displays consistent, good behavior on a leash that earns trust from our acquaintances. That's why we're in Growly Class.

I keep telling Amanda (and myself) that we all have bad days and wake up the wrong side of the bed occasionally. We happened to snap at each other earlier that morning over some spilled coffee (spilled milk would have made for an awesome, real-life clichΓ©). Gianna had a bad day, too. I'm optimistic because we're getting better at anticipating bad reactions and avoiding them. That goes for our dog and each other!

Amanda will be taking the lead for the next couple classes as I'm headed to New Zealand(!!!) with Sergio for a photography gig. I know, huge deal. Watch for photos toward the end of the month along with some obnoxious amount of gushing.

I originally purchased Growly Classes as an admittedly odd birthday present for Amanda because I know it's important that she be able and confident to hold her own with our 50-pound furball without relying on my brute strength. She already can, and she'll do great in these upcoming weeks. My wife is a rock like that, and that's why she rocks!