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Discussion Starter #1
Now that the tax refunds have injected some much needed funds into our frail bank account, it's time to dive into training classes! I just finished emailing a novella to a local trainer who was recommended by the trainer who rescued Renji (the local one apparently is better versed in aggression and other behavioral issues).

Here is the trainer: http://thecaninecenter.com/YourTrainer.html Apparently she also trains performance horses.

Renji is coming along very nicely. He is getting much better with me when around other dogs and people, not so much yet with my DF. One really awesome thing happened about a week ago- I was out cuddling the neighborhood cat and when I wanted to go inside he wanted to come with! Bad idea, but I did decide it would make a great training session. I had Renji out of the crate, then I opened the window next to the couch and called the cat up to the windowsill. Renji started squeaking and chirping like a thousand budgerigars. I made him platz and hold it, and he writhed and begged and shifted what body parts he could but he held that platz. Drove us nuts with the SKOOK SKOOK SKOOK whiny chirps that said "Oh my GAAAWD the cat is RIGHT THERE just barely FOUR FEET AWAY and you're NOT LETTING ME KILL IT!?!?!? AAAAAAAAAUGH!!!!!!" He even held it when the cat stared at him (and yes, I corrected the cat for egging him on). After about 10-20 minutes of this, the cat shooed away and slowly Renji's chirps died down and I released him. The rest of the night he was looking for that cat, but oh well, he held the down and didn't fly through the window! Impressive!

There are several downsides though, things I won't discuss publicly. Things that give me cause for concern. I am concerned about potential liability and we have to be extremely vigilant with him. If anyone sneaked up on him for a petting, well I don't want to think about that. Honestly I am quite uneasy about his temperament towards other people and other dogs. I know he would be a fantastic dog in a rural environment because he has the perfect temperament for that but over here there are kids and dogs and people everywhere and there is no choice but walk him on the streets and the sidewalks so it is less than ideal. I've emailed the trainer though and I hope to hear back soon. Renji has the potential to do agility and obedience BUT at the moment he would miserably fail anything that had to do with people or other dogs. I hope we can work past it and manage those issues so that I can work him more and put a cert or a title or two on him. At LEAST not have to worry about how he'll react next. Yup, he has a very low threshold for defense and is very quick to react and get defensive/aggressive. He's very territorial and everything's a potential threat. Thankfully he can be pretty biddable and will easily work for food and especially toys!

I really hope this trainer pans out. She's the closest and best bet. Wish us luck!
 

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Diana--

Have you tried clicker training? I am working with Rafi with the "Click to Calm" book and it's going really well. And Basu was a major liability around people for a LONG time (I had to be really vigilant about letting people touch him) but I did positive based training with him and it worked great.

The Click to Calm book has all sorts of great info about getting your dog used to muzzle, etc. I really recommend it--it doesn't cost much and it's definitely worth a try!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Jason, I may end up buying one soon, at least when we get to the point of working around more people. There really aren't that many people out and about- I made it sound like we'd be walking down a Mardi Gras street. There are too many people and dogs around *for his level of comfort,* but in reality we don't see that many most days. If that were the case, we'd have a muzzle. A nice wire basket one. But I think his ideal world consists of just us.

We do some clicker training but often times it's marker training with his toy (same idea, different tools). This is what is helping a lot now and I should have started it earlier. I'm sure this is going to be a big part of the program. I do make it a point to go out when there are distractions with a bag of hot dogs or whatever else he wants and just train whatever. I think I get more out of him with his toy, though. Yesterday I brought him out when there were a bunch of teens by the pool and we worked on fuß and the off leash chocolate lab came out across the street and though he wanted to focus on her, he was very willing to come back and work more for the toy.

As for getting him used to the muzzle, I was thinking of dipping the nose end in peanut butter every time I put it on so he can busy himself with licking it clean.
Oh yes, and a slow intro, clicker, etc.
Honestly, I'm going to have more problems measuring him than putting the darn muzzle on.

Any ideas? He's about 50-55 lbs and has a GSD head but a slighty wide and square muzzle. Looks like a GSD unless you're up close. Though I think a small GSD female-sized one ought to fit..
 

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I also recommend a muzzle until he can be trusted. People, especially children, can be very unpredictable and run up unexpectedly to a strange dog. It only takes a second. There is no reason to take any risks - that could potentially cost the dog its life or you a fortune (or both).

I had to muzzle a few fosters and getting them used to the muzzle was no big deal.
 

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With a nice broad nose he should be pretty esy to fit with a basket muzzle. And you can feed treats thru most basket muzzles. We lived for many years in Denver and always had to walk on city streets and in parks with our VERY reactive female. She was always different with the muzzle on. Very subdued. Good luck with your boy. We adopted an aggressive female and over the years she has become more trustworthy but it is an ongoing managment issue and really quite a lot of work. Congrats for seeking out the trainer and working with this guy!
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