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Discussion Starter #1
I'm confused. It's a class of mostly Labs and golden mixes, about 3 - 5 dogs plus Grimm. The trainer has all the other dogs in nylon buckle collars... I refused. Grimm needs the choke chain at this point, or he would attempt world dominion, he's not a Lab-- nor a pet-type GSD.

Anyway, the trainer KNOWS our main issue-- that Grimm has frustration on lead seeing other dogs, wants to initiate a party. I am doing pretty well with him in general with this, but the issue is still there-- hair stands on end often when we are near other dogs on the street. SO... the dangerous part: The dogs in the class, one by one, get to do an off-lead excersise. NONE of these dogs is ready. NONE of them is under sufficient control off-lead to be in a group situation. The initial off-lead few moments for each dog in turn (just 1 dog is offlead at a time) are often highlighted by the dogs suddenly getting the jubilant crazies, streaking about, having fun-- and RUNNING RIGHT UP into a leashed, sitting dog's space! This happened THREE times to us this class, and one the last class. Grimm himself even did it when he began his offlead send-away for retrieval of his dummy.

None of these dogs are truly aggressive, all are just excited, curious, social, greedy to say HI.

Even before the off-lead dogs charging us, (this is our second class, by the way) Grimm was insanely distracted, and didn't heel worth a darn. The second we left the place, he relaxed and heeled like a dream again.

Grimm needs to work around other dogs. He needs SOME class. There isn't another class (really) that I can go to here. Grimm kept trying to do what HE wanted to do during class, instead of listening to me as he usually does. He seems to think: No rules here. My corrections barely register with such extreme distractions and high distractability.

What can I say to the instructor, (or should I say anything?) so that I can have the other 3 classes that I paid for-- withOUT other dogs charging into Grimm's space like that? I want him to interact with CALM dogs-- the LAST thing I want is sudden, delightful, thrilling parties to suddenly happen whenever another dog is close!! Calm, quiet, and easy is what he needs to be around other dogs.. not having the problem exacerbated.


Okay, in truth, he had a companionable meet with the golden retriever girl when she twice playfully charged him. And, wonderfully, when Grimm himself had his off-lead few moments of insanity before doing a great job in his retrieval excersise, he too charges excitedly up to a dog-- who barked at him, and Grimm's response, thank God, was to apologeticly tuck his bum under, skid to a stop, and gallump away to do his retrieval.

Am I setting my dog back? Exacerbating a problem? Or, teaching Grimm that he can work around other dogs, and that other dogs are no big deal, by virtue of being around them for 3 more classes, just par for the course? He was not in a high state of freak-out during class, but overexcitement and distractability.. it was only our second class. And, after we got charged, each time afterwards he did respond to commands. Not great.. he was distracted fer shur.. but he did.

If the teacher offers no other options for Grimm and I, will the seeing-other-dogs and working-around-other-dogs be experiences that add up to taking the "wow factor" from seeing other dogs, so that his "gotta start a party" pulling/barking at dogs on lead will be lessened somewhat? I want benefit from this class.. even if it is not ideal. I wish she would offer us something different. I would like to ask for time for Grimm just to learn to lay down leashed by another dog for 20 mins in a down-stay. Or, a class where nobody is off-lead.. but there are none like that.


Your thoughts?
 

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Why is he not a pet-type GSD? If you are content with that, you should not be in a class with other pet-type dogs. In other words, what MaxGunnar said.
 

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From what you describe, I would say that dogs running up to him (and him running up to other dogs) is not a good thing given his level of excitement and the training you've had done with him to this point.

The instructor should not have these dogs off-leash if they're so under-trained. At the very least, they should be on long lines so that the "zoomies" can be controlled to a minimum. That may be something you can recommend to the instructor.

Another option would be to ask if a section of ring gate or an exercise pen can separate you and the other dogs. Do your attention exercises from your "safe" place, don't join in on the off-leash stuff. and just work at the level of distraction that your dog can handle. I've done with both with my own dogs and with students in my classes - gone behind an ex-pen and just worked on attention with distractions.

Another thing that may be an option for you is to work Grimm outside of the building when the others are heading in and then heading out. That way you can put as much distance as necessary between you and them and get Grimm to concentrate on you instead of the "fun" dogs.

The instructor for the class is asking for trouble by allowing dogs to charge into other dogs' spaces - eventually there will be a fight. We work up to the point of off-leash recalls by using long lines or parachute cords to work farther away. Or I set up a separate area with ring gate (like 30' of ring gate set up along a wall, so that the dogs do their recalls between the ring gate and the wall). That way the dog is off-leash but the option to do the zoomies is reduced. Occasionally you may have a dog try to jump the fence, but then that dog will have to go back on a long line as it obviously is not ready to be off-leash.

Your instructor should already be considering these options but it sounds like you may have to suggest them. Maybe start by telling them how important it is for Grimm to be non-reactive and that the dogs charging to him is setting back his training, and then suggest some of the things I've listed here. A good instructor is adaptable.

Good luck!

Melanie and the gang in Alaska
 

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My problem is the exact opposite, I cannot work off-lead with my dogs because the trainer has mostly classes of dogs that cannot work off lead.

Be that as it may be, you do not have to do something because the instructor suggests it. You did an off-lead excersize with your dog even though you knew he was not ready. Don't do that again. If you gut tells you not to do something in a class, listen to it, it is probably right. And simply opt out.

If someone else's dog charges toward yours, step in front of your dog and protect it. Tell the owner to get her dog if you must.

Ask the trainer if she could keep the off-lead stuff for the last five or ten minutes and you will leave before it happens.

I am sorry, but if you dog feels he must protect himself or you in this situation, it will not be a good thing for you or your dog. I agree that you need to work your dog around other dogs, and class is the place to do that, but not off-lead. You need to work your dog while he is under control, around other dogs that are under control.

While your dog is not a lab, it is probably not incapable of managing in a pet home and a pet life. I see no reason to seek out Schutzhund if that is not what you are in to. We go through puppy kindergarten, basic obedience, and canine good citizen classes, each of which are six to eight week courses, before we get into advanced. In advanced the trainer evaluates the group and decides whether they can start off-lead work. It certainly doesn't start in week two.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks all so much for the ideas. I think I will ask DH to ring the trainer and explain this as my German is not yet good enough for very complex themes.


I think going to the class and sitting out the off-lead part would be wisest. Thank you for the idea.
There are enough dogs, that the off-lead part takes up about half the class.. so I may ask if I can skip that part, and come twice as often.. 6 more classes (guess they would then be half classes) instead of 3.

I NEED Grimm to learn calm, be calm around other dogs-- see other dogs being calm. Being charged by offlead party-starters is a terrible situation that could be like pouring gasoline on the fire of Grimm's on-lead excitement-frustration reactivity.
I hope she understands.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
He's always well-excersised before class. That doesn't seem to stop out-of-control, wildly enthusiastic, untrained, off-lead dogs from charging him while he sits calmly on lead at my side. THAT is what is the issue here.. the trainer as part of the class, allows dogs off lead who are not ready for it, permitting them to charge at/jump all over, my dog-- who I brought saying he desperately needed CALM experiences around CALM dogs in CALM situations.... because he anticipates a party with other dogs and has put me in the hospital with concussions, dragged me into traffic, etc-- anticipating hoopla when he sees a dog. And, apparently, hoopla is what she is providing in these classes. DH needs to discuss this with her, so we can find a solution, as we have paid in advance (significantly) for the classes and are living on a tiny disability income. Making the problem worse by having dogs charge at a dog needing to learn calm round other dogs is adding fuel to the fire.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I think that was the female you posted about before? I am so sorry that happened to her/you... really unfair, she sounds like such a great dog with a super temperament beyond those 2 incidents.

Grimm actually isn't aggressive at all, just over-excited to "get a party started." The danger here, is that the other dogs are showing Grimm: a dog = wildly thrilling party. His anticipation level leads him to initiate the party-- dragging me forward. And yup.. he feels trapped on the lead when they zoom into his space. THANK GOD for sund nerves, he never is aggressive. Just terribly anticipatory of a wild doggy blow-out.. his mood is insanely enthusiastic not scared, but there is some tension/huge anticipation there.. for a handler like me, that's dangerous.

You are absolutely right though. DH is going to speak with her, and after 3 more classes-- we are done with her. I think I will do what you suggested later this fall after we move-- check out the Schutzhund club. Germany seems to have two clear types of SchH clubs.. the main type where actually all breeds (mostly GSDs of course) get to participate in training and get their BH, FH, whatever... bitework is a seperate day or time than the pet dogs doing their obedience stuff. The second type of club is rare but it happens-- unapproachable, aggressive dogs that were raised without much human-doggy socialization, lots of flash-and-dash, main emphasis on protection. I'll have to check out the club near me when I move. Good idea MaxGunnar.. hoping this club is the first type. I am not competetive, but enjoy the company of competetive dogsport people, as they really care about bringing out effective responses in their dog's working. Okay, so, obedience is my main focus and not protection work, but I have noticed the SchH methods using toy reward REALLY work for Grimm, especially in increasing his speed and motivation/drive to do stuff with me! He just drags in the kibble-reward pet dog class. While bringing out his drive is the last thing I need to do, I do want to be able to use what he has, at the level he has it-- nice drives to work with me, without being fidgety, unsettled, restless, anticipatory.

LOL MaxGunnar, just clicked on your photo link in signature.. hunka handsome GORGEOUS sable GSD upon a bed of frills and flounces!
 

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As others have said, you don't need to do every excercise. So often I get suckered into this - especially when I think the person should know what they are doing. Just like we know our health better than the doctor and we know our vehicle better than the mechanic down the street, we know our dogs better than a trainer who has seen them once a week for three weeks.

Yeah sometimes we need to be pushed but it's OK to say "No, I'm not doing that."

BTW from what you describe one advantage of the class is that the dogs all sound like they are of similiar temperment - big, energetic, enthusiastic goofs. And they are all at the same level of learning/development (that's what it sounds like from here.) The only argument is that you disagree with this segment. Respect the instructor by being straightforward with this.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Middle-- you're right, they are all goofy gallumpers. Their energy is wacky but not dangerous per se... just too wild and charging Grimm whn they are allowed offlead. I will try to guide DH into being direct with the trainer by telephone. She is not handling this class safely or appropriately, so he will need to choose words carefully. I will see about sitting out the off-lead part, as almost all of the dogs there are not ready for this, and race amok-- into Grimm's space. Then, she yells at ME to GRIMM away... when he was in a solid, good sit by my side when the other dog charges us and is now jumping all over him!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
'Twas my evil scheme all along! MUAHAHAHA!!
Great pics! Erika has muscles upon her muscles. She is a solid, intimidating-looking GSD! Those kids have nothing to worry about with Erika there. Also speaks well of her stable temperament, for all the fire in her eyes and steele in her muscles, she is offlead around a posse of wee kiddos.. GREAT dog!!
 

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Patti, if you think the class is dangerous to Grimm's development as an SD, then it likely is.

Go with your gut.

How can you train Grimm to be calm and "indifferent" (Tracy's word. I'm permanently stealing it) to other dogs when he's being accosted by other dogs, playful or not? The thing is, YOU need to learn to be indifferent when you see other dogs approaching too (our kids feed off our reactions). And right now, in your class, do you?

I trust your instincts. As Melanie said, talk to your instructor. But if his response isn't satisfactory, go with what you know deep down. Bad class experience is worse than no instruction.

It really is. I spent 6 months, three classes and about 15 privates undoing damage done by a clicker trainer who didn't know what she was doing (Camper and DH took a simple little CGC class at a new facility together. I didn't attend the class until Dh told me that Camper seemed to be backsliding in his skills in class. Then I saw that the woman was clicking and treating during anxious behavior "to calm him." So my dog was being reinforced for anxious behavior. Imagine! So I had to train my dog to be confident in certain situations again.)

I can see something like that happening here if nothing changes. Grimm is used to dogs on the street being somewhat aloof and detached. Now, is he going to expect them to approach him with no regard for "personal" space. Will he anticipate this? Think it's even more ok for him to be even more reactive?

There is a reason why nearly every obedience class I've ever been to has a 4 ft between dogs rule, even when we're doing 100% off leash work. (It rarely ends up being the full 4 ft, but the point is to keep dogs out each other's spaces.) And it's not because the dogs are dog-aggressive, becuase the vast majority aren't. It's because dogs are supposed to learn to focus on and interact with their owners and ignore other dogs, unless specifically given the ok to play with their classmates. THAT is what dogs are supposed to do in the real world, of course. That is what SDs have to do. But you know that.

Bad training REALLY is worse than none.

But you know that as well.

Of course, you know all of this. So why I am I tell you all of it?


So, to sum up a long-winded post: Trust yourself.

 

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Grimm sounds like my little guy to certain extent. Wants to start the party. One thing that has helped with me...and I know that all of our dogs are different. But, I'd jog him in our area of high dog & people traffic. As in...not the middle of Downtown Freiburg.

But in an area where people were jogging, riding their bikes, walking their dogs, etc. This did wonders for JD. You have to be patient the first few times. Mine had a hard time not focusing. But after the patience period left...haha...we'll jog for a block or two. I 'll look down, and it's insitnctive that he looks up at me...kind of to return the favor to me...cause he likes the jogging. We'll go walking from there out. Grimm might be more apt to running more. Looks like she is a bit older. My guy is only 15 weeks. But, I've found out that he is less to "start a party" and more apt to tracking and pleasing me once we jog for a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thank you for the ideas. Yikes-- I hope you are not jogging with a 15-week-old puppy? Perhaps I misunderstood. Maybe just a block or two would be okay, if it is not on sidewalk or pavement. Those developing GSD joints are soooo sensitive to concussion. We have a sensitive breed.


Sounds like you have some super focus techniques working for you. Good call!

I am deciding if we will go to the dog-class circus anymore at all, I don't want anything to be detrimental to Grimm learning CALM around other dogs. I will see what DH can arrange with the trainer on the phone. She may flip out and lose it with him-- she has lost it a few times in class, which also worries me-- we will have to see. I want the benefits of working Grimm near other dogs, without the insanity of the situation.
 
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