I had a bad experience the first time I took my first dog Jake to Puppy Training. My beloved Jake was a Blue Heeler x Kelpie. At the time he came into my life I had no idea about how to bring up a well-mannered dog. (I’m still not sure I know how, but I’m doing my best).
I was young (well, mid 20s) and so in love with my fur baby, I let him literally do anything he wanted at home. Suffice to say, the mix of Blue Heeler and Kelpie meant I had a heel nipper. Of course, I thought it was a laugh and loved him chasing me around my house while grabbing the back of my socks.
Not so funny 6 months later when I realised we were in desperate need of training. So, off we went to our first session. It was held at the local oval (I lived in Perth at the time). I rocked up very confident my Jake was going to be a changed ‘man’. This was the start of his new life journey. We had this.
Until…. The trainer came over to meet us. Jake thought she was lovely and proceeded to pop his paws on her shoulders (eg, give her a full body cuddle).
I instantly pulled him to the ground and said to the trainer ‘sorry, this is part of the reason we’re here’. Looking at her with innocent, trusting eyes, I waited for her to give us some advice.
But that didn’t happen.
This terrible excuse for a Trainer looked me in the eye and said ‘you aren’t welcome here. You can’t be here. You have to go’. I literally burst out laughing as I thought she was joking. Turns out she wasn’t. She turned her back on my boy and his imperfect human mum… and walked away.
I stood there in shock, then turned around and took my boy home. My then partner was surprised to see us 15 minutes after we’d left the house and I promptly told him Jake had been expelled from doggie training 5 minutes after arriving.
At first we had a laugh, but I distinctly remember not being able to sleep that night. I was so disappointed for my Jake. I felt I had let him down (and I had).
And I continued to let him down because I couldn’t bring myself to take him to another Trainer. I was so embarrassed about my failure as a human mum, I couldn’t bear to have another Trainer tell me so.
My Jake continued to be a heel nipper until his last days. And yes, it did get us in trouble with the Ranger. No one got hurt, but clearly this behaviour was not socially acceptable.
The moral of this story is please don’t give up on your fur baby. If you don’t have success with your first Trainer, please see another one. It may simply be a case of your dog not having a connection with that particular Trainer. Or it might be that the Trainer is not fit to be a Trainer – like our first encounter. I didn’t follow through with training and gee, did we pay the price for that.