A.J. Goes to Day Camp

September 11, 2013

Yesterday ended as a bad, bad, A.J. day.

The day started well. A.J. had his first day at doggie day camp. I brought him in at 9:00. I got to watch on the webcam from the lobby as they took him into the room with about a dozen dogs already there. He walked right in with no problems. After a few minutes the attendant came out and said he marched right in, no fear, and was doing great so far. I left him and went home, where I watched him online on the webcam. Every time I looked he was playing. Sometimes he was running and chasing and being chased; sometimes he was walking around sniffing, and at one point he and another dog were side-by-side rolling around on their backs. He seemed to be having a good time.

I picked him up about 1:30. “A.J. was great! He’s so cute! He played with all the other dogs the entire time! He’s welcome to come back anytime.” He came out panting and his ears were soaked: I don’t know how much was water and how much was dog slobber from other dogs. But he seemed pretty happy. He laid down in back of the car most of the way home.

When we got home I hung out with him for a little while, then we put him outside and rode our bikes to the store. He was laying on the patio when we got home. He didn’t seem excessively tired for the rest of the night, which I had kind of been hoping for. I decided to take him for a walk in the evening.

The walk started well, there were no other dogs or anything around. We got just past halfway on the loop in the next neighborhood when someone came down off the hiking trails with their dogs. I kept doing everything we’d been working on with our trainer: doing figure eights and trying to keep a loose leash and keep A.J.’s attention off the other dogs. He didn’t do especially well, but we got through it until they left. Then we headed home.

We were four houses from home when someone came out of house number two with their dog. A.J. lost it. I turned him around and we went back around the corner where he couldn’t see the other dog. He calmed down a bit, and we came back. The other dog was far down the street, but A.J. was still pulling and crying. I told him to sit. I then decided to try to get him to focus and wait until he looked at me before we’d get going again. Greg stood in front of him to block his view, so he eventually looked at Greg, but he wouldn’t look at me. After a few minutes I tried talking to him, I tapped him on the head, I finally just yelled “A.J!” He wouldn’t look. Another five minutes went by and I’d had enough. I shortened his leash so he could walk and that’s it, he couldn’t put his head down to sniff, he couldn’t move to one side or another, all he could do was walk next to me. We got to the front door and stopped while Greg unlocked the door and went in. A.J. and I stopped, and again I waited for him to look at me. He looked around, looked behind him, so I moved him up where he couldn’t see anything but walls and into the house. Still no acknowledgement. So I closed the front door. We still stood there for a couple more minutes before he finally looked at me. I told him “Yes! Good Boy!” We went in and I took his harness off, then I just walked away. He’d had another eruption, it had taken forever to get him to focus on me at all, and I’d had enough.

Other than washing off the sore on his foot and putting a sock over it, I barely acknowledged him the rest of the night.

In the morning I took him for a walk. I took treats but not the clicker because he’s not responding to it at all. We went to the parking lot and walked around. He pulled quite a bit, but I didn’t let him get far. He got no treats. We came home and again I didn’t give him half the amount of attention I usually do. After breakfast I put him outside and left for my volunteer work.

When I came home A.J. was on the patio. I gave him a short greeting, then we came in and he laid down by the couch and crashed. It seems that maybe the day camp actually did a lot of good, it just took a day to kick in. He’s one tired little dog this afternoon.

Now we just have to get through another walk tonight. Tomorrow we go back to the trainer and tell her I’m failing miserably. Sigh.