I knew it wasn't going to be a stellar class. I was at Luxottica until 5:15, the class is at 6:00, so we were rushing to get there and didn't get pre-class exercise time.
We started off OK, walking in the usual circle around the ring. We changed directions, as we had learned the week before. Dexter wasn't having it. Whether it was the unfamiliar dog butt he couldn't sniff, or the fact that the wall was now on the other side of him, he was upset and took it all out on the dog by him. I had a lot of yanking and yelling to do at him. The instructor, Vince (let's call him Big V), asked me if he ever has aggression towards other dogs. I said from time to time. We proceeded again around the ring. I'm pretty sure this loop was just for Big V to watch Dexter. Again I just couldn't get him under control. He was all over the place, trying to do his own thing. Big V asked me which dog it was Dexter seemed to not like. I pointed at Pooper, the one I had pointed out before when Jo Ann asked whose dog pooped on the floor (I was right behind the dog and the handler wasn't fessing up!!) So then Vince takes the leash and poor little Dex into the center of the ring... uh-oh.
Dexter freaked. Whatthehell... whoisthisguy... wheresmom... idon'twanttogothisway... He must have sensed the Vince wasn't about to let him rule. Big V casually took him by Pooper and, as if on cue, Dexter lashed out at him. Vince corrected him by snapping the pinch collar so hard that Dexter flew about 3 feet across the floor. This of course shocked the hell out of him. He looked around for his escape. Vince tried to walk with him, but Dexter then proceeded to throw a big fit in the middle of the ring, yowling and rolling all over the floor. It was the "Get this Collar Off of Me" dance performance of the century! Every time he settled, Vince tried to just walk with him a little bit, but he freaked out and had to be corrected. When the entire event was over, Dexter came back to me and hid behind my legs– scared, ego crushed.
I watched helplessly from the sideline. I'm sure the shock was all over my face. This is probably the closest feeling to parenting I can relate to... I knew Dexter was being dominant and bad, but it was so hard to see him confused and struggling. I wanted to pick him up after Vince brought him back to me and tell him it was OK– which is most likely why the dog is having these problems in the first place. Vince told me I wasn't snapping the leash correctly either, so I got that lesson and then we were all off around for another lap.
This time, Dexter walked low to the ground with his tail between his legs. A broken dog, no longer in charge of the room or me.
He eventually got his tail out again and wasn't low crawling. But for the remainder of the class, every command was cake. When we walked, he looked up at me every few steps and followed my lead- a first! His head was totally where it should be- wondering what I'm doing next, not what he's going to sniff next. It was marvelous.
So I think a big breakthrough has been made for Dexter. When we've gone on walks this week, he responds instantly to the pinch collar corrections. I don't feel that he and I have connected 100% yet, but at least he's learned the lesson that humans are alpha and determine what he does, not himself. We're both making progress.