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Old 01-05-2013, 03:40 PM   #11 (permalink)
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What type of class is this? I'd maybe get some one on one with her if you can as well as the group class. That way you'll maybe make more progress as she can learn more about Hank's personality.
It's standard obedience, 6 dogs in the class, she gave us a lot of attention. I will definitely see about more personal consultation with her AND she has German shepherds

A co-worker with a fear-reactive pit mix recommended her to me and said they have seen amazing results with their dog.
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:04 PM   #12 (permalink)
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A class with six dogs in it is exactly what you need to do. That is enough for the distractions, enough individual, enough people, enough space.

This is not going to be easy to hear, and may not be popular here, but, this is my take on this: I really do not care what the teenagers did, that one incident should not have caused your dog to become what he is. Your dog is a young fear-reactive dog, you can call it weak nerves, whatever. In my opinion, you should neuter this dog if he has not been neutered already.

This is also NOT the end of the world. Your dog can make GIANT strides. And you will learn too how to manage situations with him in it. The training, and plan on continuing to train for a year. Classes once a week. Just keep signing up. The training will help your dog's confidence in YOU, and You will improve your confidence in your dog and in yourself. Keep on going, and I will be very surprised if you read this thread 12 months from now, and you are not in a whole other universe.

It may be that your parents will never feel comfortable around your dog. They are in their seventies and a dog bite takes a lot of time to heal, and longer for older people. You may choose to board your dog if you spend the night over there. Or if it isn't too cold, and you have to go some to get too cold for a GSD. Take the dog and leave it in your vehicle. You can go out every 2-3 hours and take the dog for a quick walk. But do not force the dog on your parents.

Just taking your dog out and exposing them to people and places isn't enough. In fact, it can be counter-productive if your reaction to people and places causes him to be more wary. It is hard to not be nervous when we are afraid our dog might lunge and bite someone. That is scary. So cut that out. Take him to classes. Work with him. Throw the ball in the back yard for exercise. Take him on walks only if there isn't a lot of distractions and people, go late at night, early in the morning, or drive him somewhere if you must.

Remember that you are not just managing him, or hiding him at home, you are going to classes. Your dog is learning to trust you and gaining confidence, you are upping your leadership skills by reading/learning/practicing good leadership. NILIF might be a good place to start.

If you do not give up on this dog, in another year, you will be at a different place. In two years, this dog is going to be even better. But, to get to that place, you need to change what you are doing right now. Walking him with your hands down at your sides, where you need to correct more -- that is not what you need to be doing. Let them teach you how to walk him. How to teach him to walk on a loose leash. Be open to different types of collars. A prong collar may be the right choice with your dog. It might be the wrong choice. Treats may be the right way to go. Corrections may shut your boy down, and they may be what he needs. Under the careful eye of a good trainer, they should be able to match you and your dog with a method that gets good results. It isn't one size fits all.

He will mature, and your leadership will improve, he will gain confidence in himself, you will gain confidence in him, he will learn to trust you, and you will learn to trust him and you will learn to trust yourself. And there will be a bond. You will automatically set your dog up to succeed and will automatically praise him for doing so and that bond will grow. You will automatically tweak the situation you and your dog is in so that it is imperceptible. And negative behaviors will go way down.

It isn't over night. Keep a diary. In three months, you should see a difference. In six months even more. In 12 months, I will be surprised if he isn't a different dog.

Good luck.
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:35 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I cannot say it any better than Selzer has.

I do want to say that I think part of the problem is the handler. My reason is the description of how the trainer handled the introduction. She put the handler at ease. I'd guess that had a lot to do with the dog relaxing, too.

I know that if I am wigged out for some reason (or even no reason) my dog behaves differently. If I am relaxed, my dog does better. Always.
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:51 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by selzer View Post
This is not going to be easy to hear, and may not be popular here, but, this is my take on this: I really do not care what the teenagers did, that one incident should not have caused your dog to become what he is. Your dog is a young fear-reactive dog, you can call it weak nerves, whatever. In my opinion, you should neuter this dog if he has not been neutered already.
Thank you, Selzer. I very much appreciate your opinion and know you have a wealth of experience from which you speak.

I noticed the change in his behavior after the incident with the teenagers, but you are right. He does need more self-confidence, and a more self-confident handler (me.) Yes, he is young, he is fear-reactive, and a fearful dog can be a dangerous dog. I can't really afford these classes right now, but there is no other choice. Once he got back onto a training floor, he reverted right back to the training we used to do at a different facility. He was happy. He loved the routines. He ignored the other dogs for the most part including a Golden retriever that the owners had no control over.

He was neutered at 16 months
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:10 PM   #15 (permalink)
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i see this as you forced Hank into a bad situation
for him. you knew he was uneasy around your parents
but you took him to their house. keep the dog away
from your parents. good luck with the training.
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:17 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Some dogs need a $2000 surgery. Some dogs need 10 back to back sets of training classes @ $100 per session. If that is what the dog needs, then we just need to figure out how to come up with the money.

I have been out of work for quite a while, and know what it means to not be able to afford stuff, but I managed to take Odie, and Gretta, and Dolly to classes this summer. If our dogs need a surgery we somehow manage to dig deep down and come up with the money, but we have to think of training as every bit as important as veterinary care -- for some dogs. You have teenagers? You need to have a dog that is under control. Training will get you there. It is just a matter of how you come up with the money.

Dump cable, eat spaghetti three times a week and kraft dinners two days and bean soup one day. cut your kids' cell phones, yours too, switch from name-brand pop to walmart brand, Clear American Wild Cherry is pretty darn good. Buy 2 litter bottles instead of cans or small bottles. 40 days of vegetarian living -- great on the pocket book. Meatless spaghetti, yum! You can come up with the money to buy the dog classes if you have to, if you see the need. The way you see the progress is to keep a diary, evaluate the dog once a week or once a day, put down your feelings, hopes, fears.

I think the nip to your mother is a wake-up call. It is far more important to work with this dog at this point. It is worth some sacrifice.

It is not the easy things in life that we are proud of, it is the challenges that we have dug in and accomplished.
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Last edited by selzer; 01-05-2013 at 09:21 PM.
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:25 PM   #17 (permalink)
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That is great news! Congrats on moving so quickly on finding a trainer and getting started. The trainer seems to be ideal for Hank.
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:47 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I am sorry to hear that your dog bit your mom ... not a good thing to happen ... at all.

I'm going to second both of Selzer's posts ... I wanted to say the same thing ... but she beat me to it, and said even more!!! Great posts Selzer!

HankGSD - now you know. It sucks, but yeah, life isn't always a bowl of cherries! Otherwise we'd all be boring people with nothing to challenge us!!!

You've accepted responsibility - that is the most crucial thing you could have done ... and you did it asap. Give yourself a pat on the back for not saying oh it was a one off. The second best thing you did ... started training, that is the BEST thing you could have done for both you and your dog.

The two key things I agree on the most that other people have said:

1 - that one incident with the teenagers should not have been too much - Ky's been frightened on more than one occasion ... I laugh it off and we play and have some fun - immediately after the "incident" ... I even set it up with friends of mine to come around a corner and "scare" us - I did this when she was about 6 months old or so ... after a couple of times it was pretty funny, we'd be coming around a corner and she'd stop and sniff and then start to "prance" - she could smell them!

This then leads to the next point I agreed with 100%

2 - handler. Someone with tons of experience can take your dog for a walk and there won't be a hint of the same reactions from your dog ... all because of who is doing the walking / leading.

I'm so very very glad to hear that you were so successful in finding a fabulous trainer ... like Selzer said, keep a diary or make videos and the difference you will see with be absolutely amazing!!!

Good luck, but get ready for lots and lots of work (on you LOL)
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Old 01-05-2013, 10:01 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Thank you everyone for your insights. I dropped the ball on the training and fortunately have found what appears to be a really good facility. No, I can't afford it, but I can't afford to lose my dog or have an unstable dog. He means everything to me.

I didn't do everything right today; I didn't close my legs at the right time to cue my dog to sit; I let him get to far away to practice "target" because I thought he was doing so well with it.

The trainers at my last facility criticized me: I didn't walk in a circle right, my dog walked in front of me, my dog made eye contact with other dogs. Hey, I am paying YOU money to help me train my dog. If I knew what to do, I wouldn't have to take classes right?
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Old 01-05-2013, 10:40 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Are they criticizing or are they telling you?

"Watch your dog, he made eye contact with the other dogs, you need to correct him when he does that."

It's not the dog, it's you, if you get you under control the dog will be fine.

The first statement tells you what you need to know, what is happening with the dog, what to do. The second statement really doesn't give you anything to go on, and is just a criticism, not helpful.

With the exception of letting your four year old go down front alone for the children's moment in church, I can't think of anything more intimidating that going to a new dog-training facility. Dog trainers are a special breed. They sometimes handle people the way they handle dog, direct. Some bark at you. Some come across like they are the best thing since sliced bread, and you had better just get in line and follow.

But their job is pretty tough too. They have to read your body language in dog terms, and read your dog correctly and then they have to translate that into human terms that you will understand, remember, not be too offended by, and will not blow off. Add to that, a lot of people give dogs kid status, so that if you say anything that isn't 100% wonderful about their dog, they will be hurt or angry.

Try to be open, and not look at everything as criticism. Yes, you are there because you don't know, let them tell you.

There are some really crappy trainers out there. If you come away two weeks in a row feeling really down, you may have come across a dementor/trainer. Or, your dog might be going through a rocky stage. When I am going through dog classes, I can't wait for training night to come. I enjoy it. We have a good time. Yes she does tell me if I do something wrong, or if the dog is acting a certain way when I do something, that is what I am paying her for, to tell me.

Good luck. You are doing the right things. You are getting this under control. Go with your gut, I think you have good instincts.
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