Trading puppies at obedience class - Dante was terrified - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-30-2010, 02:58 PM Thread Starter
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Trading puppies at obedience class - Dante was terrified

Just want to say first off, this is a great training school. I think the exercise is a good exercise and very "telling" of a dog. We knew Dante was weak nerved when we adopted him - he spooks at loud noises and doesn't recover quickly, he's very scared in new situations, etc.

He is socialized constantly (we're familiar with socialization) and has made great progress. Now he will greet people in stores, is walks nicely on a leash in various stores and places, he's turning out to be an awesome dog.

His obedience is fantastic, far superior than any puppy I've personally worked with.

HOWEVER, as a class we did a new exercise today in which you traded puppies with each whistle blow. Fun exercise and good socialization. We were to greet them, offer treat, and then do basic obedience and walking around. I worked with 3 other puppies and they all did awesome.

In the glaces at Dante he was TERRIFED. My SO was there and I asked him to watch Dante while I worked with the ones I was working with, so he could relay how Dante did and if he got any better as the whistles went on.

He actually got worse as time went on. After the exercise, he was shaking and difficult to get focused. He was used as a demo puppy in an earlier class, and you'd think he didn't have a lick of training because he is so scared to work with someone other than me or my SO. He will greet them, but is too scared and unfocused to work with them. He was literally lungeing at the end of his leash trying to get away from other people.

Suggestions? Thoughts from other Malinois owners? Will your dog work with someone else? I know they are more sensitive than shepherds, but WOW. I was really surprised at just how bad his reaction was given how great he's been at overcoming fears.

It's sad to see the difference in what GOOD NERVE does to a dog vs one with week nerves. I love my boy and don't expect him to be a schutzhund dog, but would like to know what the realistic chance is of him overcoming to some extent (through training and socialization) the severe spook reactions and being so scared of being handled by someone other than my SO and I.
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post #2 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-30-2010, 03:08 PM
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I'm all for handing off my puppy to another person and having them either just hang on to them or walk them around as he will need to be able to do this calmly as he gets older, but I draw the line on expecting my puppy to do any sort of obedience for anyone else and would flat out refuse to do this. I strongly feel that it's unfair to ask any dog or puppy to do obedience for strangers and if there were corrections involved, I would completely freak out.

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post #3 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-30-2010, 03:21 PM
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Mals definately have their 'quirks", (love them by the way!),,I did this in Masi's puppy class in the beginning, and tho she was "ok" with it, she was definately becoming stressed,,as soon as the trainer saw she was stressing, she handed her back to me.
Which I was getting ready to get her anyhow

I don't think pushing this kind of situation on an already stressy puppy is such a good thing..In fact, I wouldn't do it again..I'd pass on that exercise..

Now if he was ok with it, I'm all for it, but obviously you've been working with him in other situations since there IS a problem, this kind of thing is just not going to do him any good if it stresses him out..

I would skip that part of class, I would continue what your doing out in public and don't 'push' things on him that are going to negatively impact/stress him more than he already is.

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post #4 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-30-2010, 03:31 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elaine View Post
if there were corrections involved, I would completely freak out.
No, just basic obedience for a minute or two with each puppy to further socialization.....have them focus and work with someone other than their owner. Not a correction based exercise, it was meant to be a positive training experience but for him it turned out to be anything but, and for me it was pretty distracting trying to work with other dogs when he was so scared.
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post #5 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-30-2010, 03:31 PM
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In the glaces at Dante he was TERRIFED. My SO was there and I asked him to watch Dante while I worked with the ones I was working with, so he could relay how Dante did and if he got any better as the whistles went on.

He actually got worse as time went on. After the exercise, he was shaking and difficult to get focused. He was used as a demo puppy in an earlier class, and you'd think he didn't have a lick of training because he is so scared to work with someone other than me or my SO.
Poor guy. Did the trainer say anything about it?
He sounds like he's doing so well in other areas I am surprised the trainer didn't have you pull Dante out of the exercise, let him calm down, and then maybe try it again with just one other person.

Have you ever left the room to see if he acts any differently when you're out of sight? Annie won't happily work for anyone else if she can see my husband or I, but she's fine if she can't see us.
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post #6 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-30-2010, 03:36 PM Thread Starter
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I haven't left the room and had my SO work him, but I will try that and see how he does. They haven't had me leave the training room to see if he works for anyone else.

I am assuming the trainer noticed (I don't know how anyone could have missed it, especially given how GOOD he is in the actual obedience in the class). He did not say anything about it, and did not suggest me taking him back. In fact, at the end of class when I asked him about it he pushed doggy daycare again and said to just keep at socialization, have him greet a lot of people. He is doing well at that, but getting worse at anyone else handling him for training purposes (trainer worked him in second class and he was very scared but somewhat responsive, this was the 5th class and he did much worse with someone else..).

I am not gung ho about sending him to doggy daycare. Does anyone really think that would help? He is fine with other dogs, I don't see the correlation to be honest.
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post #7 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-30-2010, 05:26 PM
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Did the whistle freak him out, or was he afraid to go to the other people? When we did "pass the puppy" exercises it was in a puppy class, and we all sat in a circle on the floor and just passed our puppy to the person next to us when the trainer said to. No loud whistles, and they weren't expected to do any obedience for the person, it was a handling desensitization exercise. We touched feet, ears, tails, tummies, and muzzles while giving treats. I've never been in a class where we handed the leash off to someone else to work with our dog.

Poor little guy. I don't know if daycare would make a bit of difference, but if you're opposed to it, then it doesn't matter - don't let anyone try to coerce you into something you don't want to do, simple as that. Good luck, I hope you get a handle on this, it must be very stressful for him and you too.

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post #8 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-30-2010, 05:30 PM
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I've never had a dog class where whistles were used. Are they trying to get the dogs used to noises? That's strange. The problem you are going to get is, as Dante freaks out, whoever is holding him is going to try to comfort him, which is totally the wrong thing to do. That will make it worse, and is probably what is happening.

I would not send him to daycare if that's just going to add stress. And it sounds like it will.

In class, see if you can skip the passing around part, though, at my club, they do that every class. It's a big part of the socialization.

Somebody in my last puppy class had a mini-Ausi that was just terrified of being passed around. He never really improved much by the end.

Now MY Malinois was a total basket case in Puppy Kindergarten. She even managed to slip her collar and get away from one woman. I told her, "You lost her, go get her." I was joking. She's 5 years old now. When there are people around, she wants to stick her nose in their pockets, but backs up when they try to pet her.

Other dogs freak her out. But, other than her little issues, she's great at obedience and agility. She's a good tracker, too, when we have time to practice. I just work with her and keep her out of situations that she finds uncomfortable. So, we often get walks alone together. (Like today.) She's my early warning dog, because she will bark at the slightest noise in the middle of the night. But not good for staying in motels.

If noise continues to be an issue, something I've found to work really well is to laugh a little and say something really light, like, "Do you hear that! That's somebody being noisy." I really helped with Doerak's and Ciana's noise issues.
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post #9 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-30-2010, 05:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elaine View Post
I'm all for handing off my puppy to another person and having them either just hang on to them or walk them around as he will need to be able to do this calmly as he gets older, but I draw the line on expecting my puppy to do any sort of obedience for anyone else and would flat out refuse to do this. I strongly feel that it's unfair to ask any dog or puppy to do obedience for strangers and if there were corrections involved, I would completely freak out.
I agree all around.
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post #10 of 44 (permalink) Old 10-30-2010, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Cassidy's Mom View Post
When we did "pass the puppy" exercises it was in a puppy class, and we all sat in a circle on the floor and just passed our puppy to the person next to us when the trainer said to. No loud whistles, and they weren't expected to do any obedience for the person, it was a handling desensitization exercise. We touched feet, ears, tails, tummies, and muzzles while giving treats. I've never been in a class where we handed the leash off to someone else to work with our dog.
This sounds exactly like our puppy class. Being handled by a stranger is obviously something that dogs should be comfortable with, but I can see how being expected to obey and perform for a stranger could be very stressful for a puppy that's is working hard just to be comfortable around people he doesn't know. I do think that if Dante is completely freaked out, you or your SO (or a "stranger" you know and trust, that you have discussed a plan with before hand) should probably be the one handling him - then you can control the situation the way you want to, and you don't have to go back and fix behaviors caused by the way handlers react to him when he's scared.

For the class, if you choose to pass him off, maybe the person could just give him some treats, and a pat if he calms down, but not place any expectations on him - just let him get used to someone else holding the lead before asking him to obey the person.

It sounds like what you have been doing has worked really well for Dante, so if you don't think day care would help, then I wouldn't do it, I personally don't see how it would.

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