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A bad night at Puppy Class

suebruce
March 14th, 2006, 09:24 AM
Ok... I think I am truly obsessing about my puppy. But last night at puppy class, Sam was not very good at all. He was overly aggressive with some of the puppies. Both myself and some of the other people from last week were equally surprised... since the week previous he was so easy going and happy. It was almost like he was irritated.

There were some new puppies there last night who were not being managed at all by either their owners or the trainer leading the class which really made it difficult all around... I am thinking of creating my own socialization time for Sam with dogs we know... can anyone tell me if this would work just as well.

One of the things we love the most about Sam is his very easy going personality and his gentle nature... I don't want to "wake" the beast if I can help it...

Can anyone relate or perhaps let me know if i am being wise or naive on this one.

jessi76
March 14th, 2006, 09:51 AM
last night at puppy class, Sam was not very good at all. He was overly aggressive with some of the puppies. Both myself and some of the other people from last week were equally surprised... since the week previous he was so easy going and happy. It was almost like he was irritated.

There were some new puppies there last night who were not being managed at all by either their owners or the trainer leading the class which really made it difficult all around... I am thinking of creating my own socialization time for Sam with dogs we know... can anyone tell me if this would work just as well.

perhaps he WAS irritated by the newbies who weren't being managed. We all have "off" days at training - some days the teacher is having an off day, there are too many newbies in class making things difficult, and I've even had days when my dog was totally "out to lunch".

I think only keeping Sam around dogs he "knows" could potentially be a recipe for disaster - it's important now, as a young pup, to be exposed to new dogs and new people often (ESPECIALLY in situations like dog-school). You want a well rounded pet - a pet who will be okay with new people/animals coming into your life - if he only socializes with dogs/people you know, what will he be like when he encounters strangers? strangers with dogs? he needs to learn how to deal with new situations.

instead of worrying about "Waking the Beast", maybe focus on TAMING the beast - when he shows overly agressive behavior, correct it, don't avoid it.

Just my 2 cents.

suebruce
March 14th, 2006, 10:10 AM
I do appreciate your two cents... as I mentioned in an earlier post we had another dog over 10 years ago who I did a terrible job at training.. mostly because I didn't have a clue.. and didn't ask for help...

Last night was just terrible.. Sam was being really angry and going after some of the dogs... and I stopped it when it happened.. but not really sure if he got the message this was a correction. Can you tell explain to me the best way to correct when the growling/biting starts?

I wasn't sure if me just pulling him away and saying no was really what I should be doing...

I am torn about going or not.. and certainly will go again if there is value to be gained... I was just kinda sad to see him be like that instead of the way we see him the other 99% if the time.

jessi76
March 14th, 2006, 10:30 AM
Last night was just terrible.. Sam was being really angry and going after some of the dogs... and I stopped it when it happened.. but not really sure if he got the message this was a correction. Can you tell explain to me the best way to correct when the growling/biting starts?

Honestly, I think Tenderfoot would have some of the best advice for that. I'm not a trainer, I'm just passing along my opinion & what I've learned thus far from my own training classes.

are you sure it was aggression and not playfull? I can remember my dog having some smack-downs with a FEW pups in our playschool class - we let them "work it out" - if it got too over the top, we seperated the pups. It sounded terrible, like fighting, but in reality, it was more like snarly-puppy-wrestlemania playing.

I am torn about going or not.. and certainly will go again if there is value to be gained... I was just kinda sad to see him be like that instead of the way we see him the other 99% if the time.

IMO, there is GREAT value to be gained from puppy school. My dog is 1 (today actually! :party: ) and we still attend group classes.

tenderfoot
March 14th, 2006, 12:32 PM
Jessi you were doing great you don't need me. But just incase :p you could use a 3rd party opinion here goes...
I think the biggest shocker for you was your previously perfect pup became assertive and it caught you off guard. It would be good to have the trainers input as to the true intention of his actions. With experience you will learn to discern between true aggression and assertive play. If the other pups were truly out of line he could have been in his rights to correct them to warn them off.
Now the leadership role comes into play - in that you need to judge when he is being inappropriate and correct him, as Jessi said. Avoiding the situation by creating your own play group is not real world. He needs to look to you for advice before he acts out. You also need to learn to read his intentions and stop the thought before it becomes an action. He should be on a leash so that you can empower your words and prevent any truly bad behavior. Allow him to go up to some mellow pups and praise him for being 'easy' or 'gentle' using a super smooth, soft tone. Then take him close to a nutsy pup and the second he looks agitated tell him to 'be easy' in a smooth and firm tone as you give him a small leash correction. Then ask him to sit/stay. This gives him a chance to calm down and you a chance to reconnect with him. Approach the puppy again and hopefully you will get closer before he starts in. Permit him just enough interaction that things stay positive but try not to let it be so long that anyone starts posturing.
If he ignores your corrections then get more intense (not louder) and back him up away from the puppies and let him know you are not happy. Stare him in the eyes and tell him to 'be easy' in a very firm tone. When he looks submissive then look away and relax.
Correct each bad decision but allow him to try again and reward each good choice. He can't learn unless you set him up to be successful, otherwise all you teach is failure. He needs to understand that any aggression at all is not permitted by you the leader, but good manners will get praised.

suebruce
March 14th, 2006, 02:05 PM
Jessie and Tenderfoot.. both of your tips are appreciated... after I posted and took a deep breath... I wondered if he still needed to meet "stranger" dogs to be more comfortable... and the tips you have given me about how to actually do the correction...really help alot...

Here's a bit of a wrinkle though... at this class the puppy are all off leash for this socialization time... so it gets insane!!!! I can certainly keep him on leash... however how can I go about correcting him and pulling him back from a crazy puppy if the puppy can just chase Sam down? Maybe the problem is not going to puppy class... maybe I just need to find a puppy class that has some boundaries...

This leads to the other frustration I had last night and that was that the trainer was pretty much absent once we were told to let our dogs off leash... she went out to the store area after advising us it was our job to supervise our puppies and intervene if they became too agressive.... I was too harried at the time to even notice as I was trying to keep Sam from going overboard... but driving home is when I realized... I didn't know what to do at time.. and the one person who I had counted on for guidance was not there either.

I am going to ask around if there are other options for puppy classes in the city... maybe I should approach the trainer...

tenderfoot
March 14th, 2006, 02:15 PM
Good idea. Another class, or confront the trainer. You might say "I signed up for this class so I could get guidance from you to help me to undersand what my pup is doing and how I should respond. After the last class I felt we hadn't made any progress and I really need your help to get me past that. Would you please observe my pup and tell me what he is doing and how I could help him do better?" That way you aren't blaming the trainer for stepping out and putting her on the defensive. Asking for help is the best way to get it.
However if this class just seems to be a 'free for all' with no boundaires then you might do very well to look elsewhere. Boundaries are such a huge part of teaching and learning for dogs.

jessi76
March 14th, 2006, 02:23 PM
... at this class the puppy are all off leash for this socialization time... so it gets insane!!!! I can certainly keep him on leash... however how can I go about correcting him and pulling him back from a crazy puppy if the puppy can just chase Sam down? Maybe the problem is not going to puppy class... maybe I just need to find a puppy class that has some boundaries...

that's how our puppy playschool class was too - mostly for socializing, much done off leash. If you feel comfortable doing so, I'd certainly speak to the trainer. you are paying money for this, for training, proper socializing, and guidance. During our class our teacher and her assistant never left the room. In fact, they each made a point to spend a little one on one time w/ each owner & dog, whilst the others were playing, or practicing new skills.

If you continue the class (which I think is still valuable despite the lack of training), tell the trainer your concerns, and that you'd like to keep sam on leash to be able to control him.

Just a tip: most dog schools will allow you to observe a class before commiting to it. If you choose to stay at this school, and advance in classes, you may want to watch a few. Or if you use a new school, ask to observe first, to be sure it meets you & sam's needs.

doggy lover
March 14th, 2006, 04:17 PM
Did the puppies look like this, dogs play fighting can look scary but in all its a game. Tucker loves to play with his shepherd friend Sadie and they play rough, but when he plays with his smaller friends there is no contact. He just runs around them and jumps over them. I think it is good for dogs to be dogs and to let them play off leash is great. My last dogs puppy classes let you have play time after class which Travis never really was intrested in as he was so much larger than the other dogs and he never did bother with other dogs much after. Tucker just loves to play, he thinks all dogs should play, but when he is on leash he must behave properly until he is allowed to play with his friends.

tenderfoot
March 14th, 2006, 04:57 PM
Great picture doggy lover.:D :D :D

suebruce
March 15th, 2006, 08:32 AM
To answer a question about the agression... yes it was definitely crossing a line... I know that everyone has their own line as far as how far to let their dogs go.... I want to train Sam that he needs to keep it in check... and as far as at the class, his body language screamed that this was not play.... he was definitely angry and not having fun at the time.... I do want him to have fun...

But I did get a good response (See below...) from a puppy training school here in Calgary and I am thinking it sure sounds like it might be more in line with what I am looking for... let me know what you think...

Puppy Class Wrote:

We have pretty unique classes - the focus is on socializing and handling, manners, all things puppy like house training, biting, chewing etc. and on teaching handlers how to train.

We have experience dealing with aggression on many levels and can certainly tell you how to handle any problems you are having with the puppy as long as you make us aware of areas you need help. We are easily accessible in person after class and via email or phone.

There are 3 Instructors in our Bright Puppy classes as well as at least one assistant.
We have 2700squ. feet of training space and there are usually between 15 & 30 pups in a group.
During playtime they all play together, during training time they are divided into smaller groups to work with their instructors.

The Bright Puppy Program includes registration in our adult classes (Let's Go! is our manners class and is 8 weeks long and valued at $185 +gst by itself) starting when your puppy is 5 months old, admission to Puppy Playtime on Friday nights (a socializing group where we let the pups play in appropriate groups) and attendance in as many Bright Puppy classes as you are able to schedule (classes are drop in - every Wednesday evening and Sunday morning as many times as you like until your Let's Go! class begins when puppy is 5 months of age). The cost for this Program is $225 +gst.

I am going to go tonight and observe... I'll let you know.

jessi76
March 15th, 2006, 08:53 AM
honestly, this part worries me:

"and there are usually between 15 & 30 pups in a group."

too many pups, IMO. But if after you observe, and feel it's right for you & Sam, then I wish you the best of luck with it.

suebruce
March 15th, 2006, 09:30 AM
Yes..I know I had the same thought that 15 - 30 puppies was too much...... I guess I thought the fact that there are 3 trainers and one assistant .. that when they split up there are at most 10 pups per instructor.

The class we are in right now there are 20 puppies and one trainer who may or may not stay in the room.

It seems like this is a rock and hard place... situation.. most of the puppy classes are filled up this fulll and so you either go and deal with a less than perfect situation or .. you don't go and then your puppy doesn't get the socialization he really needs.

Jessie,

How many pups were in the class you took your puppy to?

jessi76
March 15th, 2006, 09:48 AM
if there's only 10 when they split them up, I don't think that's too bad at all. the class you're in now w/ 20 - oh my - that seems way too much for 1 instructor.

The school I use only allows 7 at the most, in any of their classes.

and you're absolutely right, it's either deal w/ the large class size and actually attend classes, or not at all... I'd take the risk w/ the large class and get the socializing and training. At the very least, you'll learn new techniques that you can practice at home - and at your own "puppy playdates". I take full advantage of my friend or family bbq parties - since most ppl I know have dogs, we bring them and practice training at our own social events.

let us know how the observation goes! :fingerscr that this is the right class for you!

tenderfoot
March 15th, 2006, 10:10 AM
Sounds like they have a well thought out program. Again the 30 pups could be going over board but they do have at least 4 people involved (3 teachers + 1 assistant). What will proabably happen is the pups will naturally create smaller groups or go between groups as they explore the room. Go and observe and see what you think. I think it sounds like a step up from the class you are in.

suebruce
March 20th, 2006, 12:31 PM
Hi everyone... wanted to give you an update since you were all soooo helpfull. Went and checked out the other puppy class and decided after reviewing it... that it definitely was head and shoulders better than the to the other class. It was a little crazy on Sunday mornings... which I figure is to do with it is in fact Sunday morning and more people can make time for that... anyway... that's ok as we will be going wed, and Sunday for puppy class and friday nights for play time (45 min) Sam was not aggressive at all and seemed really happy being there... the only thing I could see was how tired he got. I really like how the play time is mixed in with the training so there are 5 - 10 min seg of play about three times during the training so that we can help them understand recall when play time is over... I just have to remember not to feed him such a big breakfast so that he will be interested in some of the treat rewards...

Anyway, I will keep you posted.

suebruce
March 30th, 2006, 04:24 PM
Hi Everyone... well it has been a couple weeks and Sam is doing sooooo well in his class. he goes twice a week now for training/play session and then on Friday's is puppy play time for 45 minutes. I didn't really know what to expect but I was so pleased with how the trainers monitored the playtime and also broke it up with quiet times so the dogs didn't get completely nuts. Sam has not been aggressive with any dogs except one St Bernard who was having an off night and Sam needed to tell her that she was crossing the line with him and biting too hard. It was handled well though... lots of direction at the time...:thumbs up

I am going to try to post pictures... but will be gone for a couple weeks... and won't be close to a computer.

I wanted to say thanks though to everyone who was so supportive and gave so much supportive and good advice. Sam is such a joy to have in our house and is so loyal to each one of us that we can't believe our good fortune being able to have him in our family :love:

phoenix
March 30th, 2006, 05:52 PM
Suebruce: I just had a thought. Sam is part boxer right? Well boxers are VERY loud and boisterous players... to the point where they often annoy other dogs. They love to play with other boxers but sometimes things get scrappy with other dogs when they don't give the right play signals. This is a sweeping generalization, mind you, but just so you know, it's not unusual for this breed.
I'm glad he's doing well now!

suebruce
March 31st, 2006, 07:56 AM
Suebruce: I just had a thought. Sam is part boxer right? Well boxers are VERY loud and boisterous players... to the point where they often annoy other dogs. They love to play with other boxers but sometimes things get scrappy with other dogs when they don't give the right play signals. This is a sweeping generalization, mind you, but just so you know, it's not unusual for this breed.
I'm glad he's doing well now!

yes I have heard that about Boxers too.. Sam though seems to have the temperament of a hound... except for that one time at our nightmare of a puppy class... he is almost always just happy to be noticed. He is very reserved in his play and seems to even try to get away before resorting to an altercation... in the case of his st bernard buddy... bailey just pushed over the line and Sam had to tell Bailey that was enough... it actually seemed that Sam needed to say something cause now they are playing together great again. go figure??? :thumbs up

Thanks though for the tip... cause I also know that since Sam is still such a young pup... his personality keeps evolving... so I might see some of that Boxer yet. I know he uses his front Paws alot to get peoples attention. :clown: