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post #1 of (permalink) Old 03-29-2014, 12:11 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Lake Tahoe Area
Posts: 1,346
Dog is Okay, Handler Sucks (longish)

I know there was a similar thread of an experience like this. I used to think I was an okay dog handler. My last set of dogs were two well behaved Aussies, one of which was a nicely decorated agility dog. So then, I got the bright idea to get a Dutch Shepherd and train in SAR work. Tygo is good, no doubt about it, and took to SAR training well. He has an edge to him, easily aroused and has a stick possession issue that once resulted in a dog fight that injured the other dog. For SAR, I knew I needed to get this under control.

So I'm on my fourth trainer now. This guy has 2 malinois and 1 GSD as his personal dogs and is a level 3 (I don't know what that means) decoy and has done most of his training with Ivan Balabanov (Whitney and Titan, this guy is in Florida somewhere). So my trainer first did a 2 hour evaluation of Tygo and I, and a little my husband. Based on the report, Tygo is okay, the trainer is not worried about the dog fight, says Tygo, probably like most DS, arouses quickly and can get to the switch point at which time he externalizes stress. But he did not feel that this arousal is over the top but more like a high drive dog. I think my Aussies internalized their stress more. The other part, is that I am a poor handler and Tygo doesn't trust me and my style of play is encouraging an adversarial relationship rather than a cooperative play. Also, my directions were unclear... Trainer said I directed like I was running an agility course and Tygo, who is 10 months old, was not clear on the command distinction. We need to be clearer and slow it down in chunks so he can get it. Tygo also shows some noise sensitivity. The report hurt. Gulp... time to find that humble space inside.

So my first class (this is all one on one) was how to read the dog better. We went over all the signs of stress from mild to extreme. While I heard most of it before, it was good to get it at one shot and to think about Tygo having a stress sign here or there but to think of the whole picture too. Tygo does a lot of pileoerection, always has a high tail position, but I have to watch other signs as well and then act to remove him from the situation. Anyway that was a 3-4 hour "class".

Next we will focus on completely revamping my play. Turns out the way I was whipping the toy away was a problem. Tygo felt he had to get that toy no matter what and possess it. That is all I can say now... until I learn a bit more about it. I feel good that we will focus on play first. I kind of like that idea.

We will also be cleaning up obedience and doing lots of work with other dogs, humans and noise as distraction.

I'm after building confidence. He actually is doing really well. We are cruising through our obedience and agility signoffs in SAR and his recall is way impressive. I just want to know I can trust him... and clearly he needs to be able to trust me better.

So that is my humble journey so far.

Dutch Shepherd - Ptygo (Tee-Go) de las Flores
Rescue GSD - Freyja (Husband's Dog)
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