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Puppy School Dropout

Four-month-old Jed is learning the leash very well, sleeps through the night, is awesome in the house (super clean) and knows “sit” “wait” “down” “off” “touch” “drop it” and “no” among others. So we failed Puppy School. Well actually, I dropped Jed out myself because, quite frankly, I’m opposed to the way the woman who was running it (the lady who shall remain nameless… let’s call her Ms. D), ran it.

It started outside with Ms. D directing us to have our puppies relieve themselves by the trees. Of course Jed couldn’t go, but I’ll bring that up later. So anyway. We were waiting for the rest of the class members to show up, Ms. D still in the building, when an owner drove up and opened the door, upon which her puppy vaulted out and went straight to the nearest puppy on the grounds—Jed. The owner ran up, couldn’t catch her puppy, asked me to grab her (which I did) and snapped the leash on, apologizing all the way. It was then when Ms. D came out of the building and proceeded to tell me and the rest of the class off, ad nauseam, literally hollering “Don’t ever let the puppies touch!” without so much as asking why the puppies were touching in the first place.

Fine. No problem. I let it go… more to save the loose puppy owner some embarrassment than anything, figuring there’s likely a reason why she didn’t immediately explain what had happened. Shyness, perhaps.

Next, a large ten-month-old Sheppard, well over the five month Puppy Kindergarten age limit but needing to start at the beginning due to being an off leash country boy, lunged at Ms. D while she was getting ready to put a long rope around his neck, prompting Ms. D to respond with a furious, “You bite me and I’ll be the last one you bite!”


Undaunted, the class (with the Sheppard working quite a distance away) did some ‘walk-fast-and-change-direction’ exercises—something I already do with Jed. So Jed excelled. So we were allowed into the building early to find and set up our place. Go us.

Now keep in mind here that the building was really just a small room and there were a good nine puppies, plus their owners, plus the family members of those owners who needed to squeeze in.

Inside, another “No puppies touching” reminder with a lengthy explanation followed, plus an added “No touching your own puppies, either” bonus. Wonderful. Got it. And at less than a foot distance between Jed and the puppy beside him, Jed of course whimpered when he wasn’t allowed meet anything. Either that, or Jed needed to pee. And that the puppy beside Jed was whimpering as well didn’t stop Ms. D from coming toward Jed with a squeeze bottle full of lemon juice.

Now granted Ms. D had used lemon juice in the first class (though I didn’t know she intended to use it on our puppies). The class we all attended, sans puppies. The class where Ms. D. brought in two adult dogs—one being her own highly trained Boarder Collie, and the other being a barely trained Australian Shepherd client dog whose whimpering from being tied to a doorknob for the entire one hour class prompted so many shots in the mouth with the lemon juice bottle (literally throughout the entire class) that he hid behind a garbage can or a chair or tried to melt into the floor whenever he saw Ms. D coming, the punishment taking just long enough (hear the whimpering, pick up the lemon juice, walk across the room, crank the AS’s mouth open, deliver a shot) that it seemed to me said AS was associating it more with Ms. D’s approach than as a punishment for whimpering. I wonder if he needed to pee. But I digress.

So no, I said, in Jed’s defense, adding that A) Jed doesn’t whine or bark at home, and B) we don’t do the lemon juice thing. When she asked why, I explained that all the dogs I’ve owned in my lifetime have been very well trained without ever having used lemon juice. I wanted to let it go. She pushed. I cited several recent studies which suggest that lemon juice doesn’t work as well as the ‘wolf pup hunting/training method’ wherein the alpha male cups his mouth gently over the bridge of the offenders nose and issues a low warning growl, the human equivalent of cupping your hand over the bridge of the pup’s nose and saying “Quiet” in a low and firm voice.

Well didn’t that just go over like a proverbial bag of hammers.

Ms. D’s voice rose nearly ten decibels as she told the class she’d never heard of such a thing. That she had been in many wolf pack cages and out with wolves in the wild and had never seen a wolf do that. That wolves do not train their young to hunt, it’s all instinct. (Really? Wow, who knew?) “So where did you hear that?” she asked.

I stated where I found the case studies and added two very well known trainers.

“Oh, those jackasses,” she said. “They’re abusive and they don’t know what the hell they’re doing.”

“Yet the studies are legitimate, and the personalities you just called jackasses are good enough to have their own TV shows while you have—what do you have again?” Yes, I wanted to say that but I didn’t say a word… at least not until she mentioned the first class and how well the lemon juice had worked on her client’s AS and then pressed the subject.

Now before I go on here, let me assure you that I’m not normally a confrontational person by any stretch, preferring instead to let things go and, in this case, get back to the reason we were taking the class: socializing and training our puppies. But she pushed it again about using that damned lemon juice on the AS in the first class, this time talking very loudly to me from the middle of the room, and even going so far as to squeeze the lemon juice in her own mouth to prove her point… and the next thing I know, out of my mouth popped something like, “It made me very uncomfortable to watch.”

“Why?” she asked.

“Because that dog hid behind a garbage can and chair when you moved toward him with it.”

“But it worked,” she said.

“No, it didn’t. And you having to use it throughout the entire class proved it.”

Then she switched tactics, confronting me about my use of a harness. Surprised, I reminded her that I’d called her two weeks before the classes began, asking if a harness would be acceptable. She asked again. I said it was personal preference. She pushed. I added that I knew of several dogs who through their own pulling and because of undiagnosed medical conditions ended up with throat problems due to collars, and that I had never had a problem with a harness as far as training, control or otherwise.

She was clearly angry by then and I started to leave, but she talked me (more like embarrassed me, really) into staying until the end, even commenting, albeit in a low voice, on how well a job I was doing in keeping Jed quiet. I’m still unsure whether it was an actual compliment or if she was being sarcastic, but I decided to take it as the former, thanked her, and let that go, too.

Jed needed to go out to pee (but he ended up not being able to because he was too keyed up over the puppies, new place, new people, new smells). As we exited, she started again about the case studies being wrong and that the TV trainers were abusive. (Like squirting lemon juice into a dog’s mouth so many times that he practically crawls under the floorboards at her approach, isn’t abusive? My a**. Anything taken too far is abusive, even lemon juice. Besides, if it ain’t working, then perhaps it’s time to try something else. Not abusive, eh? Hmm. I wonder how long a human kindergarten teacher would keep her job if she used lemon juice on her charges and the parents or the school board found out about it. But of course, I said nothing.) As Jed and I returned, she was showing the class a photo album of her dogs and her years of showing. Sorry, but I’m not paying to hear her brag or try to prove me wrong. I’m paying to socialize Jed and have some fun.

Yep, some fun. But I was a good girl and said nothing.

She showed everyone how to get their puppies to sit using treats (Jed sat when I asked, sans treats) and then down (Jed did that too, sans treats). Then I decided to take Jed out to try to pee again. No go. Ah, but mercifully the class was winding down by the time we got back inside, mostly because I was in no hurry to reenter the building. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I should add here that not once during the two classes did she ask if anyone had owned a dog before, instead treating us like our puppies were our first. Not once did she go around the room asking us to say who we were or even what breed our dog was. Not once were we encouraged to comment, only confronted and talked at, never to. So no, Jed ad I will not be going back.

Jed is a Puppy School dropout and I’m good with that.


This woman sounds like a total bullying hack and should be avoided at all costs. Sounds like you're training Jed just fine without help. Sheesh, you have me riled up enough to want to write a letter!
What a wind bag she is. Full of it to boot. You did the right thing. I've never heard of such a thing as puppies not being able to touch. I understand that there's a time to learn and a time to socialize, but that's how they 'see' and introduce themselves, by touching and smelling. I think she sounds like a moronic egomaniac.
Foxee: "Bullying hack"—that she is. You know, I'd love to be a fly on the wall for her next class just to see who, if anyone, will show up. My bad.

Gumby: You have her pegged. I had several other names for her... none of which I can say on WF... but "moronic egomaniac" works just fine, too. *grin*

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