Unfortunately, my poor Polly was proper 'duffed up' by a rather fierce Weimeraner in her training class yesterday. The Weimeraner has a history of aggressive, stressy behaviour and has tried his luck with Polly before, but Polly dealt with it calmly and sensibly at the time and since then they have been okay together in class. Unfortunately, after returning to our obedience class after a long break, the Weimeraner reverted to his old anti-social behaviour and once again, turned on Polly. Thankfully no real harm was done, despite poor Poll's fur flying. After some very firm shouts from myself and the instructor, the dogs were quickly parted and a rather shaken Polly returned to me. I reassurred her, then checked her over. She wasn't physically damaged thank goodness, so we continued with the class and despite having a huge park to run in, Poll stayed close by my side, keeping a steely eye on her attacker from a distance.
After giving the situation much thought on my return home, I decided to change group so Polly and I can hopefully train without such worry in future. It was horrible to have Polly attacked in this way and to see her noticeably shaken up afterwards, so of course, I don't want that to happen again.
I will now have to do my best to regain Polly's sense of happy confidence out on walks and keep a close eye to make sure she feels safe with other dogs. In my experience, what may seem merely an unpleasant isolated incident between dogs, can potentially generate unwanted, unpredictable behaviours in the future with a sensitive dog such as a Golden. It is possible I may need to rebuild aspects of training I have worked hard on with my lovely girl for years, to reinstate her confidence and trust in other dogs.
In my view, dog training should be fun and as my job is to keep my girls safe and happy, I felt I'd let my girl down by inadvertently putting her into a situation with a dog neither of us completely trusted. Rather than continue with that particular group, we'll simply cut our losses and join another group, to continue our training fun with hopefully, friendlier dogs. Polly loves her group training classes, so we won't give up entirely.
After six plus years of training classes with my girls among many, many other dogs of all breeds, sizes and characters, naturally we have experienced both ups and downs in classes along the way. The one thing I have learned above all, is to take ownership when things aren't working for the benefit of my dog. Training classes should be fun and beneficial for your dog and when the mix isn't quite right in a group, sadly things do have the potential to go wrong. If that happens, personally I believe it is time to make changes for your dog. Unfortunately, not all classes will work postively for you, as fine tuning a group of dogs to work and play together is a tough job for any instructor, no matter how experienced. I like and respect our instructor very much, but am no longer confident for Polly within this particular group of dogs, so as I see it, it makes sense for us to move on (we are staying with our instructor, just changing groups).
... after all, Polly is six and a half now and should be enjoying a more peaceful middle-age!