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Discussion Starter #1
In past threads I have mentioned Birbo and his "issues".
Please understand that I cannot communicate every detail in one post, if you need clarification please ask and I will give more info. I have experience with aggressive dogs (I habitually rescue dogs with aggression issues), this is not my first trip out. :)

The issue he has is aggression with people. He had a difficult start in life, he had 4 different homes by the time he was 1yo. One of his "owners" kept him shut in a room by himself all the time. They also kept a shock collar on him and shocked him frequently when "new" people were around. I think this has taught him new people = bad.

Birbo is not the kind of dog that will actively go after someone with intent to kill. He is safe in public on a leash.
Trouble seems to arise when a stranger tries to pet his head. When someone he does not know tries to pet him on his head he will snap at the air in their direction. It appears to be an attempt to scare them off and he does not appear to have a desire to inflict serious damage.
If someone new appears nervous (or is a new person who happens to be drunk) in his presence and he is not on a leash he will follow said person and nip them gently on their rear. The nips are never enough to even leave a red mark, but are inappropriate.

I have met with a professional trainer (of K9's) Birbo completed a basic obedience class as well as some one on one attention.
Over the year that I have had him he has made marked improvements. The next step for us will be with another professional, as I was not 100% on board with some of the first guys opinions.

Based on research and opinion from others well schooled in canine behavior my 2 options are to meet with a Schutzhund club or take him to a Behavior Counselor. I am looking for input on what may be more helpful for him. I am torn as to which may be more beneficial. The link to the Behavior Counselor (whom based on the info available I am not sure I have a lot of faith in) is Green Acres Kennel Shop | Behavior Counseling Pet Behavior Counseling Gre... | ?, Behavior, Pet, Animal, Days, Bach, Dog, Apdt, Training, Ceu?s
Because of my location it options are limited.
Thanks in advance for input!
 

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A SchH club will have members who are knowledgeable of the breed, but may not know how to manage a dog that is reactive to people.
Then again there may be some awesome people who could really help you.
So you need to maybe visit a club, explain the situation(have the dog eval'd too) and a club member or two may be the right person to help you.
I'm not suggesting you train your dog in the sport(I don't think you are thinking this either)but visiting, making contacts with some good trainers can't hurt.
Especially if you have limited options. Just go into it with eyes wide open!
I think first, I would go with the behaviorist.
Some schh clubs don't even want deal with people who are trying to "fix" their dogs behaviors...the time training at club is so limited.
I know our group would suggest other options, or the TD would set up private lessons to help, if he felt he could.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Info I forgot to add;
With people he knows he is an absolute love. Anyone in his "inner circle" can do whatever they want with him (even take coveted marrow bones out of his mouth) and he will do no more than wag his tail and lick their face.
He takes time to warm up to someone, and once he does he will not forget them. Once they win his approval, all is well.
 

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What are your goals? I get all the inquiries for my SchH club and I don't think we've ever had someone contact us and/or come out to visit based on dealing with a behavior problem and actually stick around. Our club has a limited number of resources which means we can't accept infinite members. Most good Schutzhund clubs are looking for people who are committed to training in those three phases. No dog is perfect, and often people find that other "issues" disappear or become non-issues while training for Schutzhund but it's training for Schutzhund. If you are interested in doing Schutzhund, check out all the clubs you can.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'm not suggesting you train your dog in the sport(I don't think you are thinking this either)but visiting, making contacts with some good trainers can't hurt.
Especially if you have limited options. Just go into it with eyes wide open!
I think first, I would go with the behaviorist.
Some schh clubs don't even want deal with people who are trying to "fix" their dogs behaviors...the time training at club is so limited.
I know our group would suggest other options, or the TD would set up private lessons to help, if he felt he could.
It is not my intention to go all the way with Schutzhund (he is likely to nervous to be a success). I do think the advanced obedience and tracking may be of benefit though. I have gotten the O.K. to meet up with the powers that be in our local club. They are interested in the situation and are willing to do their best to help.
I am considering both, but the fact that I work with many veterinarians who have referred to the Behavior Counselors and have no input on results with people aggression good or bad is kind of swaying me away. I am all for putting money into him, but I want it to be beneficial.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Also, the thinking behind joining the Schutzhund club is that it may help him differentiate between a real threat and and and what his crazy mind perceives as a threat. As well as, give him more exposure to new people.

If I were to go deeper into the training and he were a success, I would absolutely take it further. I am not trying to waste anyone's time the SCH club actually invited Bibo and I. With his issues known.
 

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It will depend a lot on the club and the experience of the members. It used to be I would have recommended SchH people to help you with aggression issues, but now....... not always the case.
 

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It sounds to me like he needs more leadership from parent as to who is bad and who is not i.e. look to mom as to if she can handle the situation or not. I don't know if your local Sch. club will be able to help you with this or not. After all most of the time the clubs goal are to get a dog trained and ready to compete in the sport. Also looking at the green acre place oyu may want to get some client names and numbers to talk to about their success and failure rate, since their training methods may create more problems.
 

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Just as an aside, I had/have a dog who was approachable, but not touchable, like the one you describe. I taught her to touch-the-hand for a treat with a clicker. Started with me, then moved on to people she knew, then acquaintances, then strangers.
It worked quite well. Now she sees hands in front of her as positive things.
 

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I would try a behaviorist first unless you want to seriously train in SchH, which you said you did not. I would approach finding a behaviorist the same way Jane suggested for finding a club - go visit, watch some lessons and one-on-one time with other clients etc. With my reactive dog that flipped when being touched on the head, I did both the behaviorist and the SchH training - but, I am serious about being involved with the sport. I don't think I'd put the time/money into it if I wasn't wanting to actively compete.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
It sounds to me like he needs more leadership from parent as to who is bad and who is not i.e. look to mom as to if she can handle the situation or not. I don't know if your local Sch. club will be able to help you with this or not. After all most of the time the clubs goal are to get a dog trained and ready to compete in the sport. Also looking at the green acre place oyu may want to get some client names and numbers to talk to about their success and failure rate, since their training methods may create more problems.
When I first brought him home he met only close friends and family. He air snapped at my stepfather and my best friend. I do not believe I was nervous upon the meetings because I had not seen this behavior before and did not anticipate it. If I did join the club and he was successful I would be willing to take it further. I consider myself a fairly strong leader, I have rehabbed a few dogs with aggression issues, with great success. I think at this point I may be more apt to become nervous around Bo and new people b/c of reactions in the past.
Speaking with clients is an excellent idea, but I do not know if it may not be possible d/t privacy issues? The person I spoke to on the phone was very vague and unwilling to connect me with someone who may be more knowledgeable. They want me to fill out a very extensive questionnaire and pay the $150 before they will even tell me if they THINK they may be able to help. I asked for success and failure rates and she avoided answering me! So, I guess my next step would be to call them again and drill them for more info.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Just as an aside, I had/have a dog who was approachable, but not touchable, like the one you describe. I taught her to touch-the-hand for a treat with a clicker. Started with me, then moved on to people she knew, then acquaintances, then strangers.
It worked quite well. Now she sees hands in front of her as positive things.
This is great! In general he refuses treats from strangers (he is not very food motivated). But, perhaps if I try his tennis ball . . .
 

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Is it really such a bad thing to join Schutzhund for the dogs mental soundness/stability Vs. the competition? Not trying to be argumentative, I just have limited knowledge of the sport.
 

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This is great! In general he refuses treats from strangers (he is not very food motivated). But, perhaps if I try his tennis ball . . .
If you use a clicker/treats he does not have to get a treat from the stranger. How it generally is done is you teach the 'touch' and then when you have him 'touch' the person's hand YOU click and treat.

I've heard in the past that a dog with issues like this would not be recommended for Schutzhund training. However if you can find a Sch trainer that is very knowledgeable about dog behavior and the club/trainer is willing to let you only do tracking and obedience it may work out. Personally though I'd recommend a good behaviorist, and with the history you described, preferably one who focuses on positive reinforcement.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
If you use a clicker/treats he does not have to get a treat from the stranger. How it generally is done is you teach the 'touch' and then when you have him 'touch' the person's hand YOU click and treat.

I've heard in the past that a dog with issues like this would not be recommended for Schutzhund training. However if you can find a Sch trainer that is very knowledgeable about dog behavior and the club/trainer is willing to let you only do tracking and obedience it may work out. Personally though I'd recommend a good behaviorist, and with the history you described, preferably one who focuses on positive reinforcement.
The local club has a specific fee for only obedience/tracking memberships.
From what I found the closest actual behaviorist (wich would be my first choice, if not for the several hour long drive) is in Mass. I live in central Maine, quite a haul . . . :cry:

I have never tried clicker training . . . or teaching "touch" as a command. But now that it has been pointed out to me they seem like very good ideaa.
 

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If you use a clicker/treats he does not have to get a treat from the stranger. How it generally is done is you teach the 'touch' and then when you have him 'touch' the person's hand YOU click and treat.
That is how I did it. I clicked and treated, not the hand-owner. Another important thing is that the dog has to initiate the touch. Do NOT put the hand right up to the dog. As mentioned, I started with me and did not move on until the dog was very happy and pushing her nose into my hand. At first, when I started using other people, I had to help her a little by putting my hand with their hand.

My schutzhund club was helpful with this as the people understood not to pressure the dog, just to hold the hand out.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
That is how I did it. I clicked and treated, not the hand-owner. Another important thing is that the dog has to initiate the touch. Do NOT put the hand right up to the dog. As mentioned, I started with me and did not move on until the dog was very happy and pushing her nose into my hand. At first, when I started using other people, I had to help her a little by putting my hand with their hand.

My schutzhund club was helpful with this as the people understood not to pressure the dog, just to hold the hand out.

When I first Bo was first in my home he would react negatively even to someone just putting their hand out! Now he is ok with that . . . so, we are making progress, it just has reached a point where we are at a standstill. I am def. going to incorporate clicker training.
 

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After reading more info from you I would run away from that behaviorist. Have you contacted the breeder up near you Liberatore shpepherds, i believe. They might be able to point you to a trainer or behaviorist in your area. As far the surprise snap you nay have done other things beside be clam that tensed the dog and you did not recognize this.
As far as joining to promote mental stability each club is different but most are leery of fixing problems in peoples dog when there goal is training in Sch. However if the local club offer ob/tracking only as an option it might be good.

For the hand out some dogs get sensitive if they for a long time only saw the palm of hand coming down to smack them. This can lead to them thinking that all palms are going to smack them so maybe work with asking people to present the tops of the their hands to Bo first.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
After reading more info from you I would run away from that behaviorist. Have you contacted the breeder up near you Liberatore shpepherds, i believe. They might be able to point you to a trainer or behaviorist in your area. As far the surprise snap you nay have done other things beside be clam that tensed the dog and you did not recognize this.
As far as joining to promote mental stability each club is different but most are leery of fixing problems in peoples dog when there goal is training in Sch. However if the local club offer ob/tracking only as an option it might be good.

For the hand out some dogs get sensitive if they for a long time only saw the palm of hand coming down to smack them. This can lead to them thinking that all palms are going to smack them so maybe work with asking people to present the tops of the their hands to Bo first.
I also had not thought of asking local breeders for recommendations. Good idea. Thanks:D

I really appreciate everybody's input! If anyone has any additional info, feel free to add it! So far you have all been very helpful!
 

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Is it really such a bad thing to join Schutzhund for the dogs mental soundness/stability Vs. the competition? Not trying to be argumentative, I just have limited knowledge of the sport.
Most schutzhund clubs have very limited resources and are not looking to spend time on what they would call a "pet issue." What exactly are you hoping to get from a schutzhund club? I'd be worried that it might be too much for this dog.
 
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