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Lightening May 1st, 2011 10:39 PM

Need Trainer Recommendation Please!
Hi there, new to the board so please forgive me if this is not the right forum.

I have a rescue, rising 3 sheltie X who is generally a wonderful boy. When I got him he was a hollow shell of a dog, and although it took a little while, he has grown comfortable and confident and is now devoted to me. Very much a one person dog. He is good with basic obedience, excellent off leash, gets 2-3 off leash hikes a week and shorter intown onleash walks the rest of time. I try to find a quiet part to toss a ball around sometimes. He eats kibble, but good quality food (I'd love to go raw but don't have the freezer space and can't afford to buy it in small quantity). He is excellent with the resident cat and lives alone with me, a single woman. Good, respectful, playful and fairly submissive among other animals.

HOWEVER he is a daemon on a leash with other dogs around. He barks and carries on like a banshee, lunging, panting, pulling etc. He is better off leash, although still not good. He barks and carries on if introduced off leash, will get in a strange dogs face barking then turn tail and run if the dog move towards him at all. He is also very clingy with me, trying to climb up my leg. I have no doubt he's worse on a leash because he feels trapped and unable to run. Once he has met a dog and gotten over the initial stress and reaction, usually takes about 15min-30min then he is excellent about playing and chasing other dogs, play bows, will bark but its to instigate play, no other signs of aggression, no toy agression, will still perform basic obedience commands with other dog present, will allow me to pat and play with the other dog. He does show some signs of resource guarding of ME with one dog in particular which he took a long time to calm down around. This dog likes to play keep away with the ball while my dog seems to be playing at keeping the other dog away from me. When we visit my mom and her geriatric jack russel he is very respectful of Maverick's space, toys etc and is clearly submissive to him.

I need help socializing him with other dogs. From what I can tell he honestly does not know how to introduce himself and get acquainted with a new dog. His first reaction is to bark, even in close quarters, rather than sniff. I do not expect him to be perfect about meeting dogs on leash but I want to be able to walk him without his craziness when seeing a new dog. The history I have on his is that he was second dog in the home to an older, established dog. Older dog taught the puppy to bark at anything and everything that moved. Dogs were tied outside of a house most of the day, seldom or never walked. My dog was chewing up kids toys when in the house (he almost never chews with me, but loves his toys and treat puzzle balls). Although I was never told that he was attacked, I suspect that he may have been attacked by a large black dog, since these are the hardest type of dog for him to calm down around (and no its not an owner thing, I love what many people call the 'agressive' black dog breeds, it took me a while to even notice a co-relation).

When exposing him to dogs, positive association with treats does not work, he is not food motivated at all unless he is amusing himself indoors with a treat ball. I try to make him 'work' and focus on obedience when another dog is around, but he is immediately focused on the dog and not me, regardless of the distance. As soon as he is aware of the other dog, he pays me no attention, even if the dog is far enough back that he doesn't bark at it. I try positive attention with dogs at a distance but he doesn't even notice. I am trying not to create a negative association by punishing him so right now I pretty much just ignore him as much as possible and keep the leash short enough that I basically drag him past the dog. We do the same thing jogging and biking (with a harness of course).

I'm tired of apologizing to random dog owners for my dog's behaviour! I've tried all of the straight forward approaches that I know of and although he is improving, it is not at a significant rate. I need help but I want to make sure I have a good trainer that understands the needs of adult dogs who have not been socialized as puppies. I have heard of many 'training' schools but they only take puppies! I thought I found a trainer, but he wanted $200 and hour for a 2-3 hour session, which he said was enough to 'fix my dog' so long as I follow through. I do not believe that my dog will be 'fixed' in 3 hours. I am looking for ongoing lessons that help me handle him and a trainer that will work with our changing 'issues' because I am sure that as we work on one problem, other things will surface. I don't begrudge anyone an honest days work, but $200 an hour seems extreme to me.

So I am hoping for recommendations for a trainer, prefer in the Kitchener Waterloo are of SW Ontario but consider neighbouring towns for the right trainer. Please feel free to email me with any trainers to AVOID since posting those names is probably a BB no-no <personal email removed...pls PM the OP>

Can you also comment on what I should be expecting to pay? What would you think is the best format for lessons? Weekly private with the ability for the trainer to bring another dog? Or longer sessions? Should I expect a trainer to have their own facility or should s/he be coming to me? What is normal for trainers outside of puppy classes?

Thanks so much for your input and help.

hazelrunpack May 1st, 2011 10:49 PM

Welcome to the board, Lightening! I'll ask our administrator, Marko, to enable your private messaging as soon as he logs on so that members can PM you with suggestions.

Enjoy your stay!

millitntanimist May 2nd, 2011 05:47 PM

Hi lightning,
My partner went to school with this fellow and he is an excellent positive trainer who deals specifically with dog-dog aggression.
Good luck!

Lightening May 4th, 2011 03:33 PM

Oh sorry, didn't realize we weren't supposed to post personal emails. PMs are great too!

Millitnt - Greg doesn't do lessons, he does 2-3 hour sessions for $400-$600. His references are great and I'm sure he knows his stuff, but I just don't see how I will have enough of a handle on his behaviour in 3 hours to never need help again (he does provide phone and email support, but how do you address behavioural issues over the phone?). I've always heard that training sessions should be short and positive and I think a slow and steady approach is likely going to be best on account of Lightening's situation and history and my ability to adapt to his needs as he changes and improves over time.

I want someone to work with Lightening and I on an ongoing basis, and for a more reasonable price. While I don't mind investing that amount in the long run, I can't afford it in a lump sum and would rather not put all my eggs in one basket.

Please, anyone else with suggestions, I'd really appreciate hearing them! And I believe my PMs are enabled so feel free to contact me that way as well!

Tommysmom May 4th, 2011 05:58 PM

I had a fabulous trainer with my last dog and he - unfortunately for us! - moved to Guelph. If that's close enough for you, let me know and I'll dig up his contact info for you.

Carnac May 4th, 2011 06:07 PM

[QUOTE=Lightening;1007779]Oh sorry, didn't realize we weren't supposed to post personal emails. PMs are great too!

No worries! We like to keep email addresses / phone numbers / etc off the forum so they don't get accessed by spammers. Tks

Longblades May 4th, 2011 08:51 PM

Membership in [url][/url] might give you a place to start looking. Trainers list their specialties and unless outright aggression (which it doesn't sound to me. It sounds simply like a dog that needs normal training he should have gotten at an earlier age) is a problem you might fit into regular classes. Lunging and going wild on the leash might just be poor manners, lack of training and/or poor socialization. I'd ask to view a class first, discuss your needs and often a trainer will volunteer to meet with you and dog initially or allow you to audit a first class with your dog for free. That's what I've found anyway.

Brad1976 May 13th, 2011 12:57 AM

Hi Lightening,

We had great sucess with our Golden using Barkbusters. All the training was done at our home and the trainer was able to bring her dogs to use as controlled distractions. Our guy used to go nuts at the sight of another dog but he as been really good since we had the training. If your guy was anything like ours you are going to have to see whatever trainer you choose multiple times.
Barkbusters charges a one time fee and then comes back to see you for the life of your dog. It took about 4 sessions for us to really get Finnegan under control but each time the trainer came there was great improvement. Plus if Finnegan ever decides to go back to his old ways our trainer comes back to see us free of charge. We payed $495+gst at the time and got a good 8 hours of training plus the ability to get more help if we need it.

Whoever you choose good luck!


millitntanimist May 13th, 2011 09:13 AM

Out of curiosity, how did they teach Finnegan to become less reactive to other dogs?
I've heard different people take a variety of stances on BB but I haven't talked with anyone who has had them as a trainer. :)

Brad1976 May 13th, 2011 01:09 PM

First we were taught that we had to start making things more on ours terms. We would only pet him, give him food, played with him when we wanted to and not when he was demanding it from us. This really improved his overall general obedience. Next was we learnt how to get Finnegan to choose us over other distractions. We started with toys and treats and if we called him he had to choose us over those items. To stop Finnegan from going to the object we would use a growly type noise and a hand clap if necessary to break his focus on the object and when he would turn to look at us we would call him into us and when he came he got lots of pets. Everytime he chose us over something he got lots of pets.

Once we got good at that, the trainer brought her dogs and we repeated the same thing. Finnegan was on a long leash for safety reasons at first. By watching his body language I could tell when he was getting to interested and getting ready to escalating into Cujo mode. I would give him the growly noise to break his focus and then call him to me for pets. The key was I had to start correcting him for even looking at the other dog at first because he would go from 0 to 10 on the freak out scale so quickly. Now he can walk by most dogs without any issues at all. Certain dogs with particular body language peak is interest more then others and I have to give him the growl once in a while.

It is hard to explain everything we were taught but the key was to start getting Finnegan to choose us over other lesser objects and then work up to the object being another dog, because if your dog isn't going to give up a treat for you it most likely won't give up another dog.

I have read some other posts regarding Barkbusters and during my experience at no time did we do anything physical other then the petting when Finnegan did what we wanted him to.

Hope that helps

millitntanimist May 13th, 2011 01:50 PM

Thank you :)

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