I went about finding a puppy class for Lucy with the same forethought and judgment that I used in finding Lucy.
Do your homework before you pay your money. Visit the facility where the classes are held. Is it clean? Is it conducive to learning for both puppies and humans?
Do not assume that because they have an attractive website or the owner is a “Certified Professional Dog Trainer” the person running the class is competent or the facility is appropriate. If you are not encouraged to visit the facility before plunking down your money, there is probably a reason and you should keep looking.
I am definitely putting the “ass” in “assume.” I did not even ask to see the space before I paid for six classes (the first just people, no puppies, and a huge waste of time as the trainer was completely disorganized). Lucy and I have two classes left, and I am seriously considering not finishing.
The building makes a barn look like a palace. The floor in the cavernous space is covered in ill-fitting rubber mats. When a dog has an “accident,” the pee puddle is sprayed lightly with disinfectant and then smeared around with a mop which hasn’t seen a bucket of water in its life. It’s certainly not a floor that you would ever want to sit on, much less have your puppy eat a treat off.
The trainer seems to be using the class to work out her own issues with an older “rescue” dog she has at home instead of teaching puppy basics. That would have been okay if Lucy could have gained from socializing with the other puppies in the class, but two of the other three puppies are large breeds and literally three times Lucy’s weight. Their favorite activity during “free” time is pinning Lucy to the mat against the wall until someone pulls them off.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that I have since found a much better training facility. In addition to having a variety of training classes (including agility), they have separate small and large dog “socials” on Sundays. Initially I called to inquire about bringing Lucy to the small dog social, but after explaining my situation I was invited to bring Lucy to a rolling-enrollment puppy class to see if it would be a better fit for us than where we are currently.
There were four other puppies at the session, three of them large breeds, but because the space is smaller, brighter and better supervised, Lucy was able to join in the fun. The trainer had us do a variety of exercises which were quite enlightening for me and very beneficial for Lucy. With the humans sitting on the floor in a circle, we passed the puppies around, each person holding a dog other than their own, doing things like “calming” or looking in the puppy’s ears and mouth or touching their paws.
Tomorrow we are going for our first small dog “social.” Everyone is supposed to bring a gallon of water to fill the small pool. I am really excited to find out whether Lucy likes to swim!