Five years ago, I got a German Shepherd. I named her Bella, and we became instant buddies. Before I got her, I had done a lot of research and knew the things I wanted to train her, and I watched videos on how to do it. I had written a list of it all. When I brought her home, I let her settle in for a bit and then started training. I taught her the basic sit, stay, and down commands, but I also added other tricks like how to pray, shake, and walk backwards. It took no time for me to realize how much I loved training her. She was so smart, and I enjoyed that one-on-one time we got to share during training sessions.
I always knew that I wanted to do something fun with her, but there was only one problem — I was terrified. I am a naturally very shy person, and I hate being the center of attention. I had sat in on dog classes just to observe, and I knew that in a group class I would have to “present” what my dog was learning in front of everyone. That immediately turned me off, and I refused to ever join a class. For some reason, the idea of having to give a command and then praise her in front of everyone just freaked me out.
Fast forward three years, I would go through phases where I wanted to put her in classes so bad because I just loved training, and I was running out of ideas on what to teach her. Plus, it didn’t help that I was following multiple dog accounts that had perfectly trained dogs in IPO. That was just fuel to the fire. However, no matter how bad I wanted to do it, that fear just kept me from doing it every time.
Come December 2018, I made my “New Year’s resolution” be that I was going to put my dog in some type of training in the next year. Well, I went all year without doing it — no surprise there. Buttttt, on December 30, 2019, I’m happy to say that we had our first rally class two days before 2020! Yes, I finally got over my fear and just did it. And, honestly, I had nothing to be scared of. It was so much fun, and I can’t wait for our next class!
We worked on fronts, finishes, and heeling. While I definitely have lots to learn as a handler, I’m so excited. I’ve dreamed of this moment for a really long time. I love learning about dogs and how to better understand them and work with them. The class was really nerve-racking, and I was kind of quiet, but it couldn’t have gone smoother. My dog adjusted to the room and trainer pretty quickly and was ready to work. This has been such a long time in the making, and I can’t wait for what’s to come!