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SabrinaG's picture
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Last night was Draco's first night at his BA class; he is seven months old. Frankly, I don't know why we took the dogs as it was all listening to the trainers.

Draco was barking at a big, beautiful 11-month-old Dane next to him. It wasn't an agressive bark, but usually he doesn't want to play with dogs that are taller than him, so I don't really know what was going on in his head. The Dane was great and looked at Draco as though he was crazy.

He wouldn't settle down, so I took him outside to get his toys from the truck. His toys kept him occupied for a few minutes, then he was back to barking at the dog. Then I started playing tug with him, and that worked for another few minutes.

I moved him to the other side of me, away from the Dane, but that didn't help. In fact, he started nipping at me because I was trying to keep him quiet. He broke the skin and I started bleeding. I'm on blood thinners so it was bleeding more than it normally would have.

When class was over, we went out to my truck. I sat inside waiting for the other orientation to end. At that point, I went back inside to talk to the trainer. The owner of the Dane had told them that Draco bit me. So now they think he's an agressive dog, and that if he acts up like that during class he will need to go home because he would be "too excited to learn".

He used to nip me all the time in play, but hasn't done it for quite some time. In fact, the only time he has done it since he was little was the first few weeks of his last class. I'm certain that the only reason he does it is because he wants to play. He only does this at class, when we are having to sit for a while. Since he only exhibits this behavior at the classes, it isn't something I can work with at home.

I was, am still, infuriated with his behavior. He was the youngest there, by a couple of weeks, but the others were well behaved.

I don't like being angry with him. I'm sure he doesn't know why I've been acting different. I know my dog better than they do, and when he's excited like that, it just means he's bored. As soon as I start working with him, he settles right down and behaves relatively well. The trainer's response was that it could be disturbing to the rest of the class if Draco and I are walking around. Frankly, in my opinion you shouldn't spend that much time sitting during an obedience class anyway!

I don't know if I'm angry with him, or the trainer, or both.  lol  All I know is that I don't like feeling this way. So, any suggestions about how to curb this behavior would be greatly appreciated. I'm going to be pre-emptive and speak with the director next week about sending us home early to see if I can avoid that happening.

Help!  lol

Dennis Miller's picture
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Hi SabrinaG,

   These are my thoughts on how to get a grip on Draco.  I'm sure there will be nay sayers on what I say, but I've raised two lovely dobermans and I would not give advice if it was something I would not do myself.  First, sounds like Draco has a lot of energy. If you are a jogger or if you have a treadmill, I would be running with him for about a half an hour right before class.  He needs to burn off some of that energy.  Second, don't feed him for a couple hours before class.  Be sure to have high value treats during class and use them to your advantage. Third, Draco is old enough for a pinch collar.  If put on properly and used when he starts the barking, he'll learn quick what you want and as he gets older, you won't need the pinch collar at all. Fourth, be sure you're relaxed and not uptight during the class. Draco can sense that and he'll react accordingly. Fifth, and here's where I may get in trouble with others. DO NOT LET HIM NIP YOU UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE! I would grab his muzzle and hold it shut until he whines and tell him, "no bite!" Once or twice of this and he will understand what you request.  Number 1 from this list: tire him out before class! Good luck!

Lady Kate's picture
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Hey Sabrina////Sorry for your bad experience at your first class... I'm sure you're disappointed..what Dennis has suggested is spot on! Every word.

And you're right. Draco has no clue why you're acting different.. in fact it's probably agitating him even more..

BREATHE... take a step back...

...back to square one..

 

SabrinaG's picture
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Before I even read the replies, I want to say that apparently I just needed to vent. When we went to bed last night we followed our usual routine. He was a bit more "needy" but that is to be expected. I don't usually get angry, especially with him, so I'm not sure what else was going on ... embarassment, anger at the situation, frustration. It really bothers me that they think he is an agressive dog. I wish he could have "met" the Dane, maybe it would have helped, but they don't allow any dog-to-dog contact at the classes.

So, with that being said, I'm going to read the responses now.  :-)

 

SabrinaG's picture
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Thank you so much Dennis and Lady Kate! You have confirmed that I'm on the right track. lol

1. Burning off energy - my health does not allow me to be very active right now, so Draco visits the dog park almost daily for an hour or two. On class days, we get to the park at 3:30 and leave at 5:30 to go to class. Class starts at 6:00.

2. No feeding - since we are at the dog park for two hours prior to the start of class, he does not eat. He loves his treats! He has always been very easy to treat. Just about any treat I buy for him is high value.

3. Pinch collar - Draco is in a pinch collar during training. He went through his Beginning class with it. They discourage "leash pops" during class, so I wasn't doing it consistently. I will talk to the trainer and let him know that I will be using this method to curb his behavior.

4. Relax - This is the hard one. Once he became insistant on barking, my relaxation left! Time for deep breathing, I think.  :-)

5. No bite - I did this a couple of times, again, not consistent. At the Beginning orientation they said they didn't liike any correction that involved the nose/muzzle. I will talk to the trainer about this as well.

He will not be able to wear the pinch collar when he tests for this class so I will be working on weaning him from it. I think I will use it exclusively the first few weeks of class, then try to go back to his flat collar, but leave the pinch collar on him.

One of the trainers suggested I purchase a toy for him that is only used during training. That way, if he starts misbehaving again, I can pull out his "special" toy for him to play with. Isn't this teaching him that if he misbehaves he gets to play?

Leaving class early, to me, is like suspending a kid for misbehaving in school. It doesn't work. They get a vacation from school. He would get to come home and play instead of being in class. I think that a time-out would be more appropriate if he absolutely won't settle down.

I was told during his Puppy class, and it was reiterated the other night, that I should yip like a pup when he bites and turn my back on him. I have tried that, and he thinks I'm playing with him.  lol  That does work when other people do it though. I guess he knows me too well? He used to nip my feet and heels as I was walking. Puppy class instructor told me to stop walking when he did it. I tried that as well, he would just keep chewing. Since I wear open shoes, it became a bit painful. When the instructor saw that it wasn't working, we pulled out the canned air. That was effective. Perhaps I should put a can of canned air in his training bag. lol

I'm not sure that I completely agree with the methods at his classes. I live in a small town in South-east Idaho so my choices are limited. He took his Puppy class at Petco. His Beginning class, and this one, are sponsored by the Humane Society. The trainers are volunteer trainers and any money not used for the classes goes to the Humane Society. I appreciate that these classes are outside (weather permitting), the trainers are mostly middle aged who seem to be successful trainers (judging by their own dogs behaviors), and that the Humane Society profits from the classes.

I usually get to class a few minutes early, so next week I will go in and talk to the trainer about how I am going to curb his behavior; the leash pops and holding his muzzle closed. If the trainer gives me any flack, I will speak with the director.

Poor litle guy wasn't agitated with my behavior, but he was depressed. I felt terrible when we went to bed. He laid down almost on top of me and stuck his nose under the pillow right next to my head. I made sure to give him some loves and this morning he seems to be his usual self. I still feel bad about MY behavior. I didn't talk to him for almost 24 hours, didn't pet him, didn't interact with him at all because I was so angry. I usually am very patient, but I sure allowed something to push my button! Bad Momma!

Lady Kate's picture
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Dear Bad Momma..

You're not.

Smooches to the Pooches

 

 

~~~~~Just a regular 'human' Momma.

Grace's picture
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One of the trainers suggested I purchase a toy for him that is only used during training. That way, if he starts misbehaving again, I can pull out his "special" toy for him to play with. Isn't this teaching him that if he misbehaves he gets to play?

I agree that does not sound like the right thing. This is praising him for misbehaving.

As far as you treating him different, we really see our buddies as our children. When our children misbehaved we gave them the cold shoulder or a different type attitude. I think this is just a human trait.

I took him outside to get his toys from the truck. His toys kept him occupied for a few minutes, then he was back to barking at the dog. Then I started playing tug with him, and that worked for another few minutes.

IMO do not under any circumstances play with him to misdirect him from that behavior. It really is a process that takes a long time sometimes. When he is not barking or nipping say good boy, treat and/or toy.

I know with my puppy (11 weeks) a bit different but I am working on the same thing. As soon as he stops nipping and/or whining/barking I praise him. I can see the difference slowing coming about.

Good luck and you ARE NOT a bad momma just a frustrated one.

BTW yipping when I was nipped didn't work for me either he thinks it's a fun sound and keeps at it. With Meechee when we are playing he is so excited he nips me accidentally at times. It he maybe doing that? He gets so close to my hands and/or body he catches my skin at times.

SabrinaG's picture
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Thank you for you comments, Grace. I don't mind redirecting his attention if he is, for example, chewing on a shoe. I take the shoe away and give him one of his toys. I think I finally can leave my shoes on the floor now.  lol

Draco hasn't nipped me accidentally for a while. When he was younger he would get so involved in play that sometimes he would nip me accidentally. We finally got past him "heeling" me whan I was walking. He's always been a nipper. What he was doing the other night, though, was intentional. I do not believe he was being aggressive at all, but I do think he was frustrated with the situation. Regardless, nipping is not acceptable at any time.

I was told about another training group here in town. I have sent an email asking for information. According to their website, they are more in line with what I would like to do with Draco. They have agility, nose work, luring, and other classes. All of which I would like Draco to become involved with. They also do the CGC testing, which is what I want. I may just have to change trainers.

talisin's picture
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I know that trainers have to have a protocol for class but they need to also understand the differences in each dog present, some will respond to certain things others won't - to assume that ALL the dogs in the class will respond to one or two correction methods is expecting too much....what works for your dog in my opinion is what works and should be used....not allowing you to use what connects to your dog's brain is like telling you you don't know your dog......I tried so many methods for my chihuahua to get him to stop barking at sounds outside and my last resort was while at Michaels one day I chanced upon a bicycle horn for a dollar it has the bulb on the end that you squeeze and it makes a loud squeak, the second he opened his mouth and the first little syllable came out I squeezed the horn, he stopped....now for whatever reason he associates it NOT with "gee I need to stop barking" but he associates it with "come" even though I never used the word come with the horn noise so now I squeeze the horn and he stops instantly what he's doing and runs back to me - go figure....but I got the result I wanted, he stopped barking and the benefit was now he comes to me and waits for attention....double plus....point is that what looks like it should work or wouldn't work - may or may not and it may or may not work the way you figure.....but trust your instincts and if holding his muzzle to stop his nipping works at home then use it in class - he's your dog you are there to learn commands like sit, stay, etc. and to get "guidance" on the other ......and guidance is just that a guideline not the rule

good luck with the new class trainer you will see and let us know how that goes

SabrinaG's picture
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During his beginning class, the trainer was talkimng about stubborness, and how most dogs aren't stubborn, just confused. I laughingly asked her if she had ever raised a Doberman. Her response was that no, but she has two Pits, and they're the same. I just kept my mouth shut. I would think the trainers would recognize that there are breed differences in regards to training.

I was talking with a friend at the dog park last night. He told me about a friend of his who has two German Shepards. One has anxiety issues and snapped at another dog during class. He was expelled. Seems to me they should have worked on the behavior, not kicked him out of class never to return. This woman still takes her other German Shepard to their classes though.

The other trainer is not offering CGC classes until September. From what I understand, it will be a repeat of what he is working on in his BA class, but that's okay. It will give him a stronger foundation.

I'll let you know how class goes tomorrow night.

talisin's picture
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Love these updates....and yes dogs learn differently even within the same breed.....some trainers just give snap answers to hurry through and stop the converstational part of answering but it can be from being ill informed so trust your instincts and never hesitate to walk out and find someone else. And in today's "sue you" world there is a liability even in dog classes so this person most likely was more worried about the liability than helping the dog....

SabrinaG's picture
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Draco was his usual self at his class tonight. Only barked a couple of times (and yes, I used the leash pop to correct him). He tends to whine a bit when he is bored (listening to instructions from the trainers, waiting his turn, even in the car), but I just see it as the way he "talks". I decided not to talk to the trainers before class. I'm usually proactive, but chose to just use the methods that work for him and have that discussion if/when necessary.

After class he was able to meet the Dane, and went into his little play bow. Maybe he did want to play with him afterall. I didn't think so, because this dog is beautifully huge (160 lbs at 11 months) and Draco is still timid about playing with dogs bigger than him.

The director did tell me that if I needed to leave early because of his toe, it would be okay. I thanked her and told her that the vet said it was okay for him to be in class.

All in all, it was a nice class. My little guy did very well. I'm such a proud mommy!  :-)

talisin's picture
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yayayaay good news so sorry about that toe that is an aggravation for him I am certain

Katopup's picture
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I hear ya, my pup is exactly the same way in class he's just 4mos mind u, but sounded like you were talking about my dog lol.

If we don't exercise him first he's a bugger in class, you don't have to go jogging etc if you can't, even a good game in the back yard of playing catch will help burn that energy and playing tug etc.

High value treats was mentioned above and yes this works great!

We also practice his sit/down/stand/sit, of variance with treats as a distraction during class and this helps a lot too.

Our classes do not allow the use of prong/pinch collars what so ever so it's not an option.

Funny thing is the dog our dog barks at and wants to play with is also a Great Dane lol.

I truly believe some dogs just get excited and want to play during class when they are stuck waiting their turn because of boredom so try doing those little exercises while you're stuck waiting and that may help and lots of praise and treats if he lays down calming at some point to wait.

Hope through all the advice you find the key thing/s that do the trick!

Good luck and remember you are not alone! (;

SabrinaG's picture
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That is so very true, Katopup. He gets bored so easily and that is when he acts up. I hadn't thought of the obvious, and I am so glad you mentioned it. While he is waiting his turn I will just work on other things with him. He really doesn't like to "stay" and his "sits" usually turn into "downs" (I guess he's a bit lazy!). lol

I'm getting rather frusrated because his "heel" is terrible. He still pulls a bit even with the pinch collar, and his nose is usually on the ground. I'm going to try talking to him more, become more animated, see if that works. At least it seems as though he will do well when I start him with scent work.  :-)

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Haha yes Kato too will turn his sit into a down lol.

I don't know if your classes teach the watch command but we found this a great tool while walking him and getting him into a heel position as well as when he's distracted this most of the time works.  It is still a work in progress but affective.

Basically get his attention on you through a noise a whistle or clicking your tongue etc and when his eyes meet yours treat do this a few times then add the word watch.  On a leash with him at your side use the watch command and turn him in a circle and treat if he keeps his eyes on you then incorporate the heel command and reward generously if he heels properly.  You eventually will not use the treats once you know he understands the command but use praise instead.  I'm not kidding but this only took a handful of practices and all the puppies in class were doing it.  You can also lure with the treat but only a few times to get it right then just use your hand without a treat.  Within a wk he should be following and heeling at your side just with the command and praise and heeling when you stop.

Hope that helps (:

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His puppy class taught "look" which is the same thing as you described. His beginning class used "focus" ... again, same thing. I just stayed with "look". This is something he has never done well. He just doesn't like to keep eye contact with me for very long. I believe it is because he is so timid. So I hope that by being more animated with him he will pay more attention.

In order to earn his PhD he will have to maintain eye contact with me for 15 seconds. I already know that is going to be a hard one for him.

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Oh gee! Yes sounds like you have a stubborn one on your hands lol, I feel for you.  I do thinks it's normal for them to rebel though and test you so this may be what's happening but I'm sure with everything you seem to be investing in him will eventually in time pay off.  

Keep us posted on how he does with his exam, I'm rooting for you!

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He's only in his BA class, so we have time to work on his "wach". His "stay" is improving nicely now that I am able to work with him more. His "loose leash heeling" is still pretty bad. I'm making a point of working with him more, now that my knee will allow it. He does relatively well with his prong collar, but constantly pulls if I put any other type of collar on him. Unfortunately he can not pass his BA or CGC with a prong collar.

Edit: I was just reading some of my old threads. In one of those, Oz, in his infinite wisdom, mentioned that he was working with Storm at a shopping district because it has asphalt and less scents to distract him. I'm going to start doing that and see how it goes.

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At class last night, the trainer was telling us what kind of collars we could use for the test. So we got into a converstation that I didn't want to have until closer to the end of class. He was saying that we had to use a flat collar. I told him that the book said we could use martingales. He and the assistant trainer said we couldn't. The director looked it up in the book, and sure enough, we can use martingals. The assistant trainer said we could use cloth martingals. I reminded them that the book said simply martingales, so a chain martingale was acceptable. One of the other trainers said that they do make chain martingales, which I already knew.

My plan is to remove the prong collar links, and attach a length of chain instead. Voila' ... a chain martingale.

CGC rules state that well-fitting buckle or slip collars made of leather, fabric, or chain can be used. It doesn't specifically mention a martingale, but I think I should be okay with that one as well.

Unfortunately my knee does not allow me to do a lot of walking with him, so his loose leash walking skills are not where they should be. That is the reason I am not using a flat collar on him. Perhaps we can hone his skills a bit more before he tests and this entire conversation will be moot. But just in case, I want to have a back-up plan.