Questions about "good manners class"...
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Thread: Questions about "good manners class"...

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    tammyhuffman is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultQuestions about "good manners class"...

    Maxx will be going to week 3 of his "good manners/obedience" class tonight. I am wondering if I should start with a different class and am requesting any advice that can be given. There are 6 dogs in the class, 2 that concern me and seem to really mess with Maxx and his concentration. One is deathly afraid of people, other dogs, new places, really anything and just barks through most of the class, the other is a bit over a year old and seems extremely aggressive towards other dogs. The trainer is very nice and very well respected in our area, she has politely requested that these 2 dogs work one on one with her and not in a class setting but the owners do not seem to want to hear it and pretty much said "no thanks, we paid our $$ and we are staying". There is no "nose to nose" contact between the dogs, the agressive dog spends most of his time lunging at the other dogs and it is hard sometimes to even hear the trainer over the barking dog. Would it be better to stop this class now and begin again or stick it out through this class and repeat this class or go on to the next level? I do not want Maxx in any danger and we stay very far away from the agressive dog and I will say the owners are very careful and keep a good handle on him. Maxx is an eager learner and has picked everything up, mostly because the trainer does spend one on one time with each dog and we work with him several times daily and he always amazes me, smart little guy! He seems to last about 40 minutes in class and then he shuts down completely. I think he may be overwhelmed with all that is going on maybe?
    Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.

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    Luvmydog2much is offline Senior Member
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    Talk to the trainer. Tell her you don't feel comfortable in the class and would like to switch. If you don't feel your dog is safe, don't bring him.
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    dweck's Avatar
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    Well, there *is* something to be said for a setting like that. If you want to stick it through (how many weeks are left? You're three down with X number to go?), look at it as an opportunity to teach Maxx that not all dogs like other dogs, that some dogs are fearful, that sometimes commands come when there a whole boatload of distractions going on, that FOCUS is important, and so on.

    So your training Maxx how to respond in a class setting to a dog who's potentially grouchy -- with the assistance of a trainer nearby -- could be really helpful if/when (because it's only a matter of when) Maxx encounters a grouchy dog at the vet office or a neighborhood sidewalk or one of your more advanced classes or doggie daycare or any other of a number of settings.

    Same goes for a fear-driven dog. And a situation where there's a ton going on and he's got to pay attention to you.

    Me myself? I'd probably stick with it. Of course, if you're not hearing the trainer, either move closer or ask her to repeat or go over some of the fuzzy stuff after class is over. I know w/our classes, once the hour is up, we (main instructor and 2-3 assistants) spend about 10 minutes each week answering questions.

    Kelrobin Cleveland Street Denizen, CGC, RN [Parker]

    "Dear George: Remember, no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings. Love, Clarence" -- IAWL Screenplay (1946)

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    tammyhuffman is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by dweck View Post
    Well, there *is* something to be said for a setting like that. If you want to stick it through (how many weeks are left? You're three down with X number to go?), look at it as an opportunity to teach Maxx that not all dogs like other dogs, that some dogs are fearful, that sometimes commands come when there a whole boatload of distractions going on, that FOCUS is important, and so on.

    So your training Maxx how to respond in a class setting to a dog who's potentially grouchy -- with the assistance of a trainer nearby -- could be really helpful if/when (because it's only a matter of when) Maxx encounters a grouchy dog at the vet office or a neighborhood sidewalk or one of your more advanced classes or doggie daycare or any other of a number of settings.

    Same goes for a fear-driven dog. And a situation where there's a ton going on and he's got to pay attention to you.

    Me myself? I'd probably stick with it. Of course, if you're not hearing the trainer, either move closer or ask her to repeat or go over some of the fuzzy stuff after class is over. I know w/our classes, once the hour is up, we (main instructor and 2-3 assistants) spend about 10 minutes each week answering questions.
    I had never thought of this and really appreciate your insight. You are right, Maxx needs to learn to focus on me, not everything else. That is the main purpose of basic obedience in my opinion. Thank you for pointing this out, my common sense was lost in my frustration. We only have 3 more weeks after tonight so I will stick it out and work even harder on having Maxx focus on me rather than the distractions. He is 15 weeks old so his concentration is not long, but he does need to learn that it will not always be just him, Emma and our family and his main goal should be focus. Thank you!

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    You're welcome. To safely see this through, I would advise two things:

    1. Train WATCH ME. Get Maxx to look AT YOU. Point to your nose, tell him WATCH ME, and then praise-praise-praise when he even glances at you for a millisecond. Use this throughout your day. If his eyes are boring holes in you as you're making dinner or prepping his bowl: WHAT A GOOD WATCH!!! If he joins you in the commode and you're sitting there, staring at a browny set of eyes that are staring back: GOOD WATCH! GOOD MAXX!

    You may need this focus if things start to go awry w/either grouchydog or fearfuldog (and frankly I'm always more worried about fearfuldogs than I am of grouchydogs).

    2. Always be aware of what's going on around you. PAY ATTENTION!!! The last thing you want is fearfuldog going eye-to-eye with Maxx and things are starting to escalate and you're setting yourself up to be caught completely unawares. Keep grouchydog and fearfuldog in your peripheral vision 100% of the time.

    From experience, I can tell you that dog-2-dog things can go wrong in a millisecond, evidenced by my Wesley getting attacked by a Dobe. And this was a dog he knew well, that had trained with him for years, and with both dogs being handled by VERY experienced handlers. The Dobe took an attitude, leapt on Wes, and things went to hell in a hambasket very quickly after that. Fortunately, Wes was okay. I, on the other hand, was a quivering mess.

    Kelrobin Cleveland Street Denizen, CGC, RN [Parker]

    "Dear George: Remember, no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings. Love, Clarence" -- IAWL Screenplay (1946)

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    Dan, good response! I never thought about the "focus" issue. Question: why would you be more concerned about the fearful dog than the grouchy/aggressive one?

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    Fear-driven dogs can virtually be set off by anything. Without any notice at all. A fearful dog who believes he is out of options will bite, triggered by God knows what: A leaf blowing behind you. The shadow created by the brim of your hat. A glint of sunlight off your earring. Who knows?

    Usually an aggressive dog displays that behavior well in advance of some major grouchy response. Aggression is usually visible a mile away.

    Fear often is not.

    Just my experience...............

    Kelrobin Cleveland Street Denizen, CGC, RN [Parker]

    "Dear George: Remember, no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings. Love, Clarence" -- IAWL Screenplay (1946)

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    OK, makes sense. I've never had a fearful dog, luckily!

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    Totally agree with Dan.

    I think it is good to have the dogs in a situation that isn't idea, but is controlled so you can see how other dogs and their owner behave and learn how to deal with it. It will give you confidence.

    You paid as well so why should you have to leave becuase someone else is making it hard.

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    tammyhuffman is offline Senior Member
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    dweck - thank you for the additional advice, "watch me" is a command I have been drilling Maxx with since day one and he does this very well, most of the time. We will continue to work on this all the time, I had not thought about using the times he is paying attention to me in the kitchen, bathroom, etc. as additional "watch me" times but that is a great addition. During class last night the "fearful" dog was not in attendance and I was told he would not be coming back to the class setting with the other dogs. The agressive dog however was there, at least 5 times during the one hour class the trainer had to ask the owners of this dog to re-focus their dogs attention off of Maxx and back to them. He was staring at Maxx from the other end of the room, a pretty good distance, and paying absolutely NO attention to his owners. The last time the trainer asked the owner to refocus their dog she was extremely firm with the owners and told them if they were unable to do this they would have to work with her one on one as Maxx was not the focus of the class. Maxx is the smallest and youngest dog in the class and this is dog is older and much bigger, I think Maxx looks like a "target" to this dog.
    kassabella - thank you also for your input. I agree with you, this will increase my confidence and having Maxx in a situation that is not ideal, but controlled, will help both of us. You are right, I also paid and I should not have to leave because of other dogs! Safety was my number one goal and because the trainer has the class under control and there are several assistants I think we are in a good spot that way. However, I will never allow myself to think that all is well and will remain focused on my surroundings at all times!
    Thank you again to everyone, your wisdom and advice are very appreciated!

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