Class 1: PetSmart- We are in this class for the long haul. We paid for it, so we're going. This class has one other puppy- a very rambunctious black lab, that is exactly Kirby's age. This dog has a bad habit or two(notably barking) that by the end of class, Kirby was imitating. The class structure was as follows: We walked in, the trainer was 15 minutes late, she asked "What are some issues you're having?" We talked over issues, she gave us some practical advice. After we both went through that process, she asked for more issues. She then started suggesting issues that we might be having... that neither of us were having(for 10 minutes). She then demonstrated a watch me, with both dogs and gave us tips on successfully practicing watch me. (Kirby already knows watch me, which was apparent at the class) By this time the dogs are going crazy. We've been sitting the whole time, listening to her talk... I don't know why we even had dogs there. Suddenly class is over, she promises not to be late next time. She gives us tips on watch me (our assignment for the week) and house training. She scoots us out, so the next class isn't late. The door opens and at least 8 large dogs are waiting for us. Kirby is already riled up and ready to play, so he proceeds to ignore any puppy manners he previously had, and sniff, bark, and approach however he pleased. Luckily this was an advanced class waiting to come in, with lots of very well behaved dogs.
Class 2: Community Rec Center- We showed up, and paid our $12.50. This class is an ongoing class- they work on the needs of individuals and the group, and it changes depending on who shows up. There were 7 other puppies, all at least 6 weeks older than Kirby. We met a few of the dogs outside- on leash, then came inside and did introductions- and the trainer asked what issues everyone was having this week. She went through each pup and gave tips. Her tip for us was get a long leash, when Kirby goes after the cat, give a really sharp tug on the leash with the command leave it. The other tip was about Kirby nipping our fingers with the toy/treat when we give it to him. She said "well, he's a herding dog, he's going to nip."
After this, we all walked to a spot where our dog couldn't physically touch any other dog. We waited for Kirby to turn and look at us, so we could treat him for giving us his attention. It took Kirby a long time to look at us, but seeing how this was his first time around this many other dogs, that's fine. We gave our dogs commands from this position, practicing with all of the distractions.
We then started walking on leash, in circles around the room. They required us to have the dogs on our left (both Stan and I naturally prefer the right) Kirby is not accustomed to the leash- we have practiced in our yard/home, but we can't walk him outside until he gets his third set of vaccinations. The dogs were all trying to sniff, hang out, and meet one another. The trainers kept saying "Walk faster, your dog won't have time to sniff!" Let's move! So, we were jogging around this room,(WE were, there were several elderly people who couldn't do that) Kirby is still pulling hard(as hard as a puppy can pull) in all directions, and getting tangled up in our feet trying to see the other dogs. The trainer would ask us to halt, circle left, and start around in a new direction, with Kirby pulling and twisting between our legs. It was kind of like a cartoon.
We then practiced "Come" where the trainer stood on one end, holding our dog, and we called our dog from across the room. Kirby did really well with that. By that time, class was over. Still no off leash time.
So, those are the classes. I know I've only been to each one once. What do you think? This is my first time raising a dog, and I don't know what to expect, and I don't want a class to give my dog bad habits. I know he needs the socialization though. I'm really, really conflicted. Thanks in advance everyone. I don't want to be totally stressed about obedience class. It should be a fun time, right?