Friday 13th April was a big day for our Boomerang Boy Charlie. He started school! Yes … doggy school!
Since we’d made the decision to adopt Charlie, I’ve been trying to get him into a reputable doggy school for some time. None of them would enroll him. As a 6 month old rescue with no previous dog school experience or socialisation skills, I guess he wasn’t an attractive student – he would be a challenge. Interestingly some schools on hearing what breed he is (Africanis) were suddenly full until at least July! I guess there’s discrimination in dog circles too!
I have very specific reasons for wanting to enroll Charlie in school. Charlie’s in the unfortunate position of having missed out on his most impressionable and imprinting phase of his life which is from 8 to 16 weeks. During this time a puppy’s brain is growing at an incredibly fast rate and absorbing sights, sounds, smells, experiences and interactions all around him. It is during these crucial weeks that they need to be exposed to a variety of external stimuli, which will stand them in good stead into adulthood. Puppies that have been through puppy socialisation of this kind grow up to be confident and well balanced adults that can be put into almost any situation, not panic and if need be look to you for guidance.
Charlie of course didn’t get any puppy socialisation, nor was he taught anything. He was simply beaten for anything deemed ‘naughty’ whilst not shown what was actually expected of him. So now I’m working with a puppy that’s missed the greatest learning part of his life, has been on the receiving end of an abuser and has no coping skills in the big wide world. My solution – take him to school where it’s a different but safe environment with puppies of a similar age to him and where he can learn not to panic in strange environments whilst also learning to cope with a bit of pressure. It’s a tall ask of my Boomerang Boy, but he’s clever, so with patience, guidance and time I’m convinced he’ll progress.
Friday 13th was our big day … first day at school for our Charlie! It was a little overwhelming for him and much like an overexcited / overstimulated child he was battling to listen to me, let alone concentrate or focus. This process is all about baby steps for him right now. It’ll take him twice as long to learn new things as first he has to learn to cope in different environments and we have to undo what has been imprinted in his brain from when he was a puppy, but I’m convinced we’ll get there! I have all the faith in our Charlie. Needless to say he was absolutely exhausted when he got back and collapsed on his favourite couch.
I’ll see if I can get someone to tag along and take pics at some of our classes!