We took Koda and Summer to our first puppy socialization class. It was a hoot! All day long I was excited in anticipation of meeting other puppies. In the four weeks that we have had them here, they have only briefly met one neighborhood puppy, Rosie. That barely counts as a playdate, it was just a quick hello at the fence. But last night Koda and Summer played naked with a bunch of new friends.
Let me back up. My daughter took in Summer, and my son and I took Koda. We walked into the large canine classroom (wherehouse with fans). Rubber mats were in a circle, already filled with several dogs and their humans. I should mention that we had to carry our pups in, since they have little to no experience walking on leashes. That’s the drawback of having a fenced in yard, we have yet to take them out on real walks on leashes. Actually my daughter has, I haven’t though. This was evident every time in class when we had to walk somewhere, Koda and Summer stood their ground or backed away from the slight tug of the leash. I’m not sure why but this embarrassed me.
So there we were sitting in a large circle on our mats. Koda, my son and me, then across the circle sat my daughter and Summer. The teacher asked us to go around the room and introduce ourselves. I’m awful at remembering names, but not the puppies. There was a corgi, a pit bull terrier (yikes! Super sweet actually), a golden retriever, a rottweiler mix, a herding collie of some sort, a golden doodle, an australian shepherd, some tiny beagle type dog. All of the puppies were around the same age, maybe a couple that were a little older.
We first practiced the settle hold. Koda is awesome at this, so that was a piece of cake! Across the circle Summer was wriggling around resisting the settle hold that my daughter was placing on her. She did great (my daughter that is). As the teacher spoke to us I glanced at all of the other humans so lovingly petting and holding their young puppies. It felt a little strange to have two puppies in the circle that were ours. Sometimes you don’t know how strange your life is until you are exposed to others’. They each had just one energetic, attention-seeking fur baby. I bet they thought we were completely nuts for having two. My self consciousness was creeping in.
For the next few minutes we played some name games with our pups, giving them treats when they looked our way after hearing their names. We went outside as a group to potty, our two puppies being the only ones not trotting out there on leashes easily. The instructor talked about the importance of always using a leash to take the pups out to pee and poop, even in an enclosed backyard (big OOPS). This is one of those things I’ll need to figure out. For four weeks, the door opens and they run into the yard, directly to the mulch area to relieve themselves. Somehow I don’t see the point in changing that.
Then the next part of the class was so funny. It was the meet and greet part. Apparently dogs make their acquaintance with other dogs by sniffing each other’s genitals (yes, I immaturely giggled when the teacher said this). So she instructed us to keep our dog on leash and approach another dog in the circle, the more dominant dog was to be turned around by the human so that the more shy dog could sniff the butt, then reverse it by letting the assertive dog sniff the shy dog’s butt. (Again, giggles). I was happy to have my son there to keep me on task, he was a good listener and direction-follower. I wish I could say the same for Koda. He was shy about sniffing the unfamiliar dog’s butt and even more reluctant to have his own sniffed; he flattened his tail so low as each dog attempted to get a whiff. We met every dog around the circle, even the sweet little pit bull.
Finally the best part of the night, it was time to get naked and play! Naked means no collar or leash. She assured us that they would be fine and that we were not allowed to intervene if an altercation came up. Instead we were to call to her, and I guess she had some magic way of breaking it up. Nothing like that happened. It was so cute to watch. The humans stood around the perimeter. The puppies sniffed each other, the energetic ones immediately started to jump and skip around. The followers followed. Bigger dogs played with littler dogs. The adults were instructed to bend knees when the dogs come running by in case you get knocked into. So where were our dogs? Summer was right in there playing with the mildly energetic dogs. Koda kept hiding behind the standing humans. He engaged a little bit. The playtime went on for a bit and then we were done for the night.
We laughed the whole ride home. Puppies are hard work but they also just make me laugh, and I like that. Looking forward to our next puppy playgroup! In the meantime if any neighborhood dogs want to come over to our enclosed backyard and play naked with Koda and Summer, come on over!