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Old 09-11-2013, 10:16 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default I Tried To Give Him Away

... but no takers last night at his first beginning obedience class. He was awful ... horrible ... frustrating.. I about cried.

I knew it was going to be bad before we went, but I didn't know the magnitude of badness then! He would focus decently when we were sitting (it was a big class inside a building .. beginning obedience class at this training club always is big). As soon as we would start 'heeling' ... loose term that obvious my guy had no idea what it was... he pulled constantly until the exercise was finished trying to reach other dogs. I have never seen (or my hands felt) something so extreme. He wants to see every .. single .. dog .. there. It was ridiculous .. my hands were beet red by the end of class. I was a pole on the end of the leash for all the attention he gave me, holding him back from his objective. Any redirection did NOTHING to break his focus ... on the other dogs of course and not me.

I toyed with the idea of just murdering him and leaving him there on the slab. I really should have just stopped and made him sit out, but I just kept going and he just kept pulling and trying to reach the dogs.

So incredibly frustrated right now. I know he's immature and will be probably slower to mature than my other GSDs (he's my fifth) have been .. but oh .. my .. lord.

And yes, we work at home and obviously he isn't like this at home, although he's not handler focused there really either once we're in motion.
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Old 09-11-2013, 10:20 AM   #2 (permalink)
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How old is he?

My puppy worked for every meal starting at 4 months... Every kibble or scrap of meat.... Even before then I wouldn't feed her during a training day till after class. Helped a whole ton with focus.

It's all new, don't kill him yet! Give it a few more weeks to adjust! :-)


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Old 09-11-2013, 10:31 AM   #3 (permalink)
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He's still young, and this is his first class I'm assuming?

How is he while training just outside on the sidewalk, in a park, etc? I would work really hard in medium distraction areas at keeping his attention.

In both puppy and basic obedience classes I would always bring a tug toy, treats and a blanket. First, he was taught from day one to stay on the blanket while I was seated, the only time he was allowed off the blanket was when we were actively working. Second, all play and sniffing was only done offleash so he knew onleash time was work only. Third, most classes can be boring for dogs, when the trainer speaks all the humans are listening and nothing is going on for the dogs. So that's when I would pull out the tug toy, I could play tug quietly with Delgado if I saw him getting bored and it was a quiet way of entertaining him while I could still listen intently to what the trainer was saying.

Stick with it, even if you need to back farther away from the class to keep his attention, the benefits of him learning to listen to you while in such a high distraction area is invaluable.
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Old 09-11-2013, 10:38 AM   #4 (permalink)
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He's 5 months old. Thanks for the commiseration. He definitely wasn't bored. He's sooo focused on the other dogs he hadn't a clue there was even a class going on. I've never seen such insanity hehe. Treats .. eh .. he is extremely food motivated but could barely bother to turn his head far enough to get one and I had a hard time finding a behavior worth rewarding. Blech. It was definitely sensory overload for him, even though he had been to a puppy class there that finished about 3 weeks ago (it had a puppy and advanced class going concurrently so there were quite a few dogs there then, just not the magnitude that is beginning obedience).

I don't feed him supper before going to class. It still didn't help with all that stimulation. Maybe his ball .. we'll see. I just have a lot of work ahead of me. The problem with the building is with the class so large there's not a lot of room left to get out of the way. Maybe I should take him back out there Thur and let him sit through some of their other classes just for the exposure.

ETA: One of the instructors offered to hold him while I signed up. I told him he could give him back in 6 months. He declined for some reason! The same instructor told me during one of the puppy classes that Varik could have been his dog last year .. they acted so similar .. there is hope ... if we both survive.
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Old 09-11-2013, 10:51 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Kaiser does the same blasted thing. He wants to meet all the other dogs and until that happens it is nearly impossible to get him focused on me.
Perhaps I'm just weak but when we get to the drop in agility class he and I will carefully go around to the others and introduce ourselves. I always get the owners attention before and ask permission before approaching. Once we have met most of the people of all species we can generally get down to playing with the toys (jumps, tubes, teeter totter, etc.).

So I can relate, it's like dealing with a very stubborn 5 year old who wants his Umpa Lumpa now! But having now experienced this perhaps you can plan ahead. Do you know any of the other people in the class? If your dog isn't aggressive toward other dogs, perhaps arrive early and see if some of the other owners will introduce their dogs and then the group can cluster together. Maybe that will help keep your dogs attention where you want it.
Also keep in mind: while this is hard, once you and Xan have got this under control the other stuff will become easier.

Also: feel free to cheat. How does Xan feel about raw stew meat? One trick I use is to hold a piece of meat in my fist and let Kaiser stiff and try to work is nose in to my hand. this only lasts about 30 seconds to a minute before I let him have the treat, but he'll usually spend some time checking to see if another piece of meat might show up.
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:00 AM   #6 (permalink)
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OK, so same place just many more dogs is the only difference?

Keep consistant that greetings are not allowed and he should hopefully settle as he quickly realizes that making a fuss isn't working. You can try using the mat/blanket technique to enforce where he is to sit during class.

Really enforce a "look at me" or "focus" command, I found it very useful for Delgado while we were moving around the room during training.

Also find a REALLY high value treat that only comes out during training, one trainer used hotdogs, another used string cheese. Delgado loves Wellness Wellbites, they're soft enough to put into tiny peaces but very stinky and apparently tasty lol
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Last edited by Shade; 09-11-2013 at 11:03 AM.
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:09 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Galathiel View Post
ETA: One of the instructors offered to hold him while I signed up. I told him he could give him back in 6 months.
Lol, when people tell me how beautiful Morgan is and how much they wish they had her, I often hold the leash out to them and say "Here you go. Just please give her back in 2-3 years." Oddly, no one has extended their hand to actually take the leash yet.

We start basic puppy training tonight and I'm fairly sure my dog is going to be the "example" dog. My husband and I watched Monday night's class without her and all I could think was how no other dog was completely losing their mind at the number of dogs there. Should be fun. I am both completely looking forward to it and completely dreading it. But that's what these classes are for, right? Somebody please say I'm right!
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:16 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Oh puppyhood! I don't miss it one bit.

You'll get there, be consistent and make training fun for you both.
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:43 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I tried hot dogs which he never gets at home and loves. But it paled in comparison to D.O.G.S. I use the Wellbites at home and he loves them. Maybe I'll see if he likes that better in a class setting. I cut each one into about 9 cubes so they go a long way. Then I guess it's on to cheese or chicken. Or maybe he needs a brain transplant.

He had three 'friends' from puppy class that are there for this class and he was glad to see them, but was just as glad to see randomdog01 that happened to be nearby as well. Varik is such a turkey. Yeah I was not excited about going through puppyhood again after all these years .. and I was right!!!
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:44 AM   #10 (permalink)
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He's a baby, move away a bit, till you can get focus on you, then work your way closer. If the room is small, it may not be a good class for you right now. No way I'd be walking and "heeling" if I can't even get attention.

Do stuff he can do in a place he can do it and slowly add. If 10 dogs in a class are too much, work with 2 dogs in an open space and far enough away that he has a chance to be right.

He'll learn, but don't expect things out of him he's not capable of...yet. Don't worry, he'll get there, just gotta take the right steps.
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