Not only is this a great 1959 song from Dinah Washington, it’s an appropriate description of how I felt after Paddy’s training class on Tuesday. Now, if you’ve been paying attention to my regular ramblings, you’re probably chiming in with ‘Hang on – isn’t Paddy’s training class on Wednesday?’
Well, yes it has been, until now, but we haven’t been making a great deal of progress. One week, everything seems to be going well, and the next, we seem to be back at Square One. Paddy is a very intelligent dog, and that’s not just Mummy Bias on my part. His trainer Alex said so the first time I took him to training at Pets World on the San Miguel-Orihuela road (CV 95). He’s also very stubborn, very persistent, and very protective of me. So when there’s an aggressive or wound up dog around, Paddy’s first thought is that there is a threat to my safety and stability, so although he’s a real sweetie with people and other dogs normally, he’s been a bit twitchy with the dogs at training. That makes me anxious, he picks up on it, and so we’ve been getting nowhere.
Alex saw how upset I was, and suggested that this week, I brought Paddy on Tuesday instead of Wednesday. I couldn’t see that it would make any difference, but I trust Alex’s judgement, and I didn’t have any better ideas, so I decided to give it a go. As soon as I got there, I knew Tuesday was going to be different. I always park as far away from the training ring as I can, so I can walk Paddy calmly down to the other dogs, rather than parking the car in the midst of dogs and owners, and having him going ballistic because he scents playtime. Usually, at least one or two dogs start barking, and he responds and pulls, winding himself and the other dog/s up. This time, they’re all sitting or standing serenely by their owners, so Paddy ambled along, tail wagging, not even trying to turn my 5′ 2″ inches from vertical to horizontal. Good start.
One of Alex’s provisos for the change of day was that Paddy wore a muzzle until we were certain he would be fine
with the other dogs. I wasn’t happy about that, but I understood why it was necessary. Dogs are pack animals, and they learn behaviour from the pack. My laid-back little man was learning to be a wired-up puppy on a string, so we had to proceed with caution. After about 10 minutes, Alex decided the muzzle wasn’t necessary. Just as well really, as Paddy took less time to get it off than I took to get it on.
He happily joined in with every activity and training exercise, both on and off the lead. Regular readers of Paddy’s exploits – and my resulting embarrassments – are going to find this hard to believe, but it’s true. Three times I called Paddy back to have his lead back on, and three times he came at the first call. Not only that, but when we did the 4 stage walking exercise, we completed all four stages. It works like this: you walk the dog, then at Alex’s signal, you stop and the dog stops with you. Next stage is to stop and get the dog to sit, then stop and get him to lie down, and finally stop, get the dog to lie down, then walk away while he stays.
I can almost hear the laughter from my so-called friends – Paddy stay? No chance! Where Mummy goes, so does he. And such was the case – until Tuesday. Okay, he only ‘stayed’ for three and a half steps, but he kept that backside welded to the floor for three and a half steps more than he’d ever done before, so I call that a result. If only I had the evidence captured on camera, but the battery chose that particular second to die. However, I have independent witnesses – both Alex and my friend Glenys were witness to the miracle.
So, what made the big difference? A number of things, but mainly the fact that Paddy was with a group of dogs that he was comfortable with, so he relaxed and enjoyed the training, which allowed me to do the same. I’m not saying there’s anything ‘wrong’ with the other dogs – just Paddy’s perception of them. He’s still only a youngster after all, so he needs to learn how the real world works, and that just because another dog is aggressive to Paddy, it doesn’t mean he’s going to rip my throat out, so Paddy doesn’t need to act as my 24/7 minder.
Now Paddy can concentrate on enjoying being a dog, and learning how to behave acceptably in polite company. And finally, I’m confident that the hooligan in him can be banished – or at least, toned down considerably. What a difference a day makes!