Well I survived Strummy's first group class, just. It started out a bit crazy because I didn't realize they would be running dogs in a ring right next to our class. I knew they would start about 45 minutes into class with run throughs with the general public but I didn't know the club members would be running right at the start of class. While I walked the course for class I had tied Strum up with a full view of the other ring and first he started barking his head off because he didn't like being tied up then he completely lost it when a dog started running in the other ring. Poor guy. I moved him away from the other ring but he kept barking and a couple of people in the class expressed their displeasure (geez, do you know how many classes and seminars I've sat through with barking dogs? You'd think they could cut me a little slack and he shut up pretty quickly when I ignored him. Sheesh, it's a baby dog class.). After that I walked the course with him on leash next to me and he was fine. I'd bring a crate for him but I think he'd pitch a fit in it. He's o.k. in a crate at a trial but not with the types of distractions at class, we need to work up to that.
Anyway, the class is all handling with just jumps, tunnels and a set of 6 weaves. We handle a sequence first one way then another to see what works best. For me though the main point of the class is to get Strummer to be able to work around other dogs. His first run was crazy, he held his stay but had huge wide turns and then caught sight of a dog running in the other ring and ran over. I called him back though and the first 2 times he was so good, came right back but the 3rd time he made it onto the other course and I was very lucky that the other dog didn't care. Strum didn't cause any trouble and came when I called then never ran off again for the rest of the class. So a rocky start but some good success in the end as far as his focus while running. He held all his start lines and aside from that very first crazy run he handled like a dream. He got his weaves more than he missed them and had only one bar down the whole night I think and that one was right at the start during that first crazy run.
It took a little troubleshooting to work out how to handle his crazy lunging at the dog that was working. He would be o.k. for a bit then lose it. I settled on keeping him in the equipment trailer which divided the run-through ring from our class ring. That way he could hear all the commotion and hopefully get used to the chaos without having to watch. I gave him treats while dogs were running but nothing when they weren't unless I sensed him getting ready to lose it then I asked for something like attention or a down first. He never truly relaxed but he didn't bark or lunge while in the trailer and I let him look now and then when I felt he was calm enough to handle it. Another dog and handler were sitting next to us and he was fine with it. He got much better as the evening wore on and his last runs were really nice.
Overall it was a lot of work to keep him from losing it but I was encouraged that he improved as the night wore on. Gives me hope that with time he'll be able to handle himself. By the end of class I even caught him starting to lunge then controlling himself without me asking and that was really encouraging. Got to start somewhere. Gonna be a long road to haul. Geez, why can't I ever have a normal dog?