Kicked out of puppy class - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-16-2014, 12:09 PM Thread Starter
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Kicked out of puppy class

Hello, I'm new here and also a new owner of Bella, my 7 month old GSD/Akita mix. I rescued her a little over a month ago.

So, I had my honeymoon phase where she was awesome on the leash. Now, she is very reactive. Barks and lunges and other dogs. I am already embarrassed because people give me dirty looks and act as if I own Cujo. The really judgmental people are dog owners themselves. She is great off leash at the dog park because she is off leash. She is awesome at home with my husband, 3 yr old daughter and 10 month old son.

I signed up for puppy class at our local pet store. My pet store also has a clinic where we can take our animals there for vaccinations.
When I first went in with Bella she was of course, barking and lunging at every dog there. The trainer of the puppy class I signed up for happened to be there as well. She reassured me that her class would be helpful and that I bring lots of treats. She also said that because Bella has reactive issues, we will be behind a carpeted wall.

Fast forward to our first training. Bella barked 80% of the time. She was so stressed out. We were behind a wall and didn't get the attention that others were getting. People complained. Bella was way too stressed out.
They asked that I come back on another day separate from the class.

I went in the store again for 2nd round of vacs and Bella was terrified and barking at everything. I emailed the trainer to cancel the training all together.

The trainer said that Bella has serious issues and should be medicated.
Medication...really? As a trainer, she should have known that class training would not be a good fit. She put us in a bad predicament.

I found another trainer that will come to my house. All of the reviews rave about him and they all had dogs with behavior issues like Bella.

I am just writing because I feel very defeated and alone.

Last edited by CalliMotherRunner; 06-16-2014 at 12:11 PM.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-16-2014, 12:12 PM
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I don't know your dog, but if I had to guess, she's not getting enough exercise. She might also be a nerve bag and there's not a lot you can do about that except learn to manage her.

I don't know anything about Akita's.

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-16-2014, 12:18 PM
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Sounds like a 7 mth old puppy with no manners. IME, Akita's are calmer, watchful dogs. I believe they are a guardian breed?

Pet store classes are not the place for reactive dogs. AND, pet store trainers are rarely experienced. Any trainer that comes out with "that puppy needs drugs" is probably not very experienced. A good trainer would have taught you how to get and keep her focus on you.

My puppy started that when he was about 7 months, just being a punk because he was excited. I"m guessing it's the same for you since she's good off leash with other dogs and seems to primarily happen when she's on leash. Find a trainer that will show you how to shut that down quickly and teach methods to modify her behavior.

Where are you located at? Maybe someone can recommend a trainer.

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-16-2014, 12:29 PM
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It sounds like you need an experience trainer who will work WITH you and encourage you. I agree with Michelle, let us know your general location and hopefully someone can pop in with a name or two

Reactivity is not uncommon in GSD's so don't feel like you are alone, look at LAT and BAT dog training and don't give up. They're both great tools


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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-16-2014, 12:33 PM
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I'm by no means a training expert. I just want to give you support. You are not alone by any means. Many on this forum have leash reactive dogs. Hopefully, they will come and share with you their experiences and training techniques.

Personally, when my GSD was just a 6 month old pup, I thought she was becoming leash/dog aggressive. Fortunately, I found a great trainer and he told me she was not leash/dog aggressive at all. She was just excited and hadn't learned proper manners.

Step back, find a good trainer in your area (if you let us know your general area you will likely get trainer recommendations). With proper training, it is likely things will get much better for you and your dog.

Thank you for rescuing!

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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-16-2014, 12:49 PM
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if you have a barker in class, and the trainer does not know what to do, buy a spray bottle of "bitter apple", when your pup starts barking, open her mouth and give a little squirt, she'll stop after a few or sooner

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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-16-2014, 01:10 PM
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I got kicked out of puppy class as well. Fortunately the trainer was willing to let me take private classes and that worked a lot better. Word of will have to keep up with her training even once you leave classes or it does you no good. Meanwhile, don't be too embarrassed about having an obedience school drop out. It happens. Some dogs just need a bit more structure than others. If you'd like I'll send you links about my travails with Lycan.


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Last edited by Jelpy; 06-16-2014 at 01:18 PM.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-16-2014, 01:12 PM
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Akitas and German Shepherds are both big powerful breeds, and both can be reactive to other dogs. I have no idea what Akitas are like as puppies, but with the behavior you are describing, I think that while it is not caused by the dog park, it can be making it a lot more difficult for you to manage him away from that setting.

Your puppy wants to run and play with other dogs, but the leash is giving him mixed signals. He may feel like he has to guard what he is connected to. He may feel some anxiety because he is smart enough that he knows he cannot run if a dog does challenge him. Usually he has two choices, fight or flight. And, when they know that flight is no longer an option, the only thing left is fight, so they tend to react before they figure out whether or not the other dog is a threat.

Also, he is feeling your anxiety -- how is he going to act, will I be able to hold him, is he going to try and attack those other dogs, what will they think about him, why is he making so much noise, and is this going to get even worse? This is all being transmitted down the lead. And when you tighten the lead and hold him in a death grip, he feels that much more anxious.

At this point your dog isn't a candidate for puppy classes. If he needs to go to any classes, he would be ready for basic obedience or basic household manners. Puppy classes are for dogs that are between 10 weeks and 5 months -- usually starting before the dog dog is five months old. Of course other puppy owners are concerned when a dog that looks grown and is big and is acting like a nut is in the class with their puppies, because a bad experience your dog can be really bad for their puppies.

On the other hand, I agree that your dog is probably just a large, over-grown puppy, that needs boot camp.

I think that your puppy will improve if you do a few things:

Management: If you are having trouble controlling his size, then muzzle him in public and use a prong collar so that he does not drag you into other dogs.

Leadership: Look up NILIF (Nothing In Life Is Free). Read through it, and change your leadership style so that he is VERY clear that you are a strong leader and can protect him, give him directions, and that he can look to you when he is unsure.

Exercise: Right now he is full of energy. Before training get him out and throw that ball for 20-25 minutes, then go for a walk. Several times a day tire his butt out. Then do five minutes of training. Exercise his mind and body. A tired puppy is a good puppy. If you need a muzzle and prong collar to walk the dog, it is far better for him to get the exercise. Use a basket muzzle if necessary so he can pant, etc.

Training: You need to do regular training with this dog all the time. Lots of praise, lots of treats. Everything he gets, he should do something for it. Make him SIT before opening the door to go out. Make him lie down before you give him his bowl of food. Train him to WATCH you and give him treats for doing so. Train him at home with no distractions. Get good at the basics. Build the bond. Add in distractions slowly. Start with walks in low traffic areas. Then increase it. Start with the distance between what he reacts to as pretty far away, then reduce it. Try to stay under his threshold if at all possible. Call in a professional trainer to work with you and him alone, and possibly with a dog that he brings. Then after he is showing good progress, a group class would be beneficial.

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-16-2014, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by ken k View Post
if you have a barker in class, and the trainer does not know what to do, buy a spray bottle of "bitter apple", when your pup starts barking, open her mouth and give a little squirt, she'll stop after a few or sooner
I have never heard of this a common practice? Mine wouldn't stop barking at the first class (almost 3 weeks ago). His only interaction with other dogs was at a socialization hour and it was all off leash. In his mind, when he saw other dogs he had to play with them. Now we are teaching him to look at the dogs, ignore them and look at us, he gets a treat every time he does this. He has gotten much better in class, but not perfect.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-16-2014, 01:39 PM
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Hi Calli - I am not a trainer, but I had an Akita for 10yrs (RIP). She was very calm and sweet. As a pup, she was much like your mix. I began walking her first with very little distraction and building up to walking with noise and distractions near by. It helped to acclimate her to busy surroundings and other pets. Can't wait to see pictures of your rescue!
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