Charlie’s not a social dog. (He has exactly 2 close doggy friends – my chihuahua-pug Jemy and my sister’s pomeranian-chihuahua mix, Twix – with whom he’s most comfortable around and can play with like a normal socialized dog.) A month ago, I started taking him to the dog park hoping to address his anti-social disposition. With our constant visits on weekday morning and some evenings, he’s made a few acquaintances – this just means he’s become indifferent toward them rather than fully interested – like Finn, a basenji mix; Charlie, a terrier mix; Sasha, a pit bull; and Sabrina, a mini pinscher. But with strange dogs or strange people, he doesn’t quite know what to do or how to say hi. He becomes an anxious, nervous dog in scenarios heavy with strangers, especially at the dog park – he barks at every new dog he’s never met and herds them when he sees them run around and chase each other.
Taking him to the dog park to address his social skills, it turns out, isn’t enough, though. So I consulted a trainer at Zoom Room Culver City and asked if an obedience class would be appropriate. But the trainer recognized that Charlie was already an obedient dog in some aspects, so obedience class wouldn’t be entirely helpful in addressing his social skills. Instead, to raise his confidence, he recommended Agility 1, and at that moment, I was the happiest girl in the world. I had searched so long for a program like it but was never successful. Thanks to Karen who recommended Zoom Room!
We had our first class yesterday morning and I’ve never been more proud of Charlie. The trainer, Stephanie, was so impressed with him, knowing how nervous and shy he is. Despite his disposition, he picked up everything without a problem – learning the concept of the ultimate Table, walking across the a-frame, walking through the weave poles, jumping over the hurdle (just 12″ for the first class but I know he can clear at least 2 feet), and coming to me through the tunnel. She said that it helped he was shy since all he wanted to do was please me – most dogs can’t get through all the features in the first session, shy or not. And by the end of the 30-minute session, Charlie was panting and relaxed. What a proud mother I was!
And later in the evening, when I brought him to the dog park, though he still expressed his nervousness with some barking every now and then, I was an even prouder mom when he started playing with a poodle mix. He chased dogs every now and then as usual, more out of intimidation than anything else, but with the poodle, he did that playful bow that expresses friendliness between dogs. He’d never ever done that to a dog outside of his close doggy friends, and I raised my hands in victory and yelled “Landmark!” to Karen, who was there to witness the whole thing.
What a great day for Charlie. Good boy, Charlie! Eventually, let’s enter some agility competitions, like the FCI Agility World Championship, okay?