Palmer, Johnny, and I attended our first day of obedience school tonight! Here's how it all went down:
We arrived about 15 minutes early to class to fill out some paperwork and settle into the indoor class environment. When we arrived, we were greeted by very friendly staff members and about 3 other dog/human participants (and more to come). Right away, Palmer started wimpering and whining so we quickly grabbed a seat that was lined up along the wall. The staff was still setting up (filling dog bones with peanut butter, collecting paperwork, etc.) so when they placed partitions between Palmer and the dog to the right and left of us, I thought it was standard procedure. Really, the instructor picked up immediately that Palmer had anxiety and fear of the other dogs so the partitions were there to help ease Palmer's panic. We were the only ones in the entire class that needed the special partitions!! Here's a pic of Johnny comforting Palmer (you can see one of the partitions).
Anyway, the class was great and Johnny and I really like the instructor. At one point during class, she brought each of the dogs up in front of everyone to teach the dog to sit and to quickly assess the dogs health and behavior. Palmer was the second dog to go up and, because of all the practice he gets at home, he did amazingly well! In fact, he sat so well that we got special dispensation from the homework they assigned at the end of the class! If you haven't seen before, once Palmer realizes you have treats in your hand, he'll enthusiastically slam his butt down into the sit position to get his reward. If you step back with the treat, he'll follow and slam his butt down into 'sit' again. He'll follow you around, sitting after every step... until he gets the treat. Anyway, it was a very proud moment for Johnny and me!
So, after the 'sit' exercise, our instructor quickly assessed Palmer (in front of the whole class, mind you). The first thing she told us was that Palmer was fat. How embarassing! Turns out, we've been feeding him up to twice the amount she recommends. The second thing she told us was that his right ear had been broken. That's why his right ear perks straight out instead of up. It pains me to think of what he's been through -- but the ear perk? It's absolutely adorable!! The last thing she told us (this time, not in front of the entire class) was that Palmer's obviously been through some traumatic event and that he's still very fearful of other dogs. She advised us to never take him to a dog park and also gave us a few tips on what to do when Palmer is interacting/socializing with other dogs.
The class was delightfully insightful. I absolutely cannot wait until our next class! More updates to come...