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Old May 18th, 2005, 11:10 AM
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pamha pamha is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: IL
Posts: 185
Ticked at trainers attitude

We had our first puppy class with Lola last week. The first session was mostly orientation & telling us the rules & going over common puppy problems without the dogs there (waste of time IMO for us at least).

She was scared when we first got there, acting like she was being taken to the vets as she smelled the other dogs. When they had their first off-leash time, Lola was scared, came to run under my chair (my son (13) is handling her for the class), and started snapping at the dogs that followed her. The trainers had her back on leash and released the other dogs one at a time to come meet her; she was fine with that. Most of these pups are 4-6 months, some large, some small, and it was really overwhelming for her.

One of the assisting trainers came over to talk to me, explaining why they wanted her on the leash. I understood that and let him know about her background (dumped at 4 weeks). I mentioned we`d taken her to the dog park the week before- she did fine with some smaller dogs, but started getting fear-aggressive when some larger dogs came - I gave her a few minutes to see if she`d get used to them & then left because she was overwhelmed. He said she should never go to the dog park until she was at least a year old because if she got scared at this age it could stay with her.

OK fine, I understand his reasoning and accept that he knows more in general about dogs than me. But then he ruined it by saying 'of course HE could handle her at the dog park'. Excuse me? Either the dog park is bad or its not. He has no idea how I handle her or anything about my experience or knowledge of training. I`m not saying I`m any kind of expert, but I`ve had and trained several dogs and I believe I can handle and read my dog well enough to make a good decision on whether she can cope or not. We`re taking the class mostly for socialization and for my son & Lola to gain more confidence in each other; any new tips or useful information is always good too. He also stated that puppy class is enough socialization for her. With only 4 more sessions I think not. Our vet and several others that I respect recommend a LOT more social interaction than that for her and you can even see an improvement in her behavior after she has a good one on one (or two) play session with an active elder or pup near her size.

I`d like to go back to this club for obediance training later, but I don`t want to have this guy for our trainer. He really rubs me the wrong way! I`d already decided to wait a bit before going back to the dog park- the first time was just to check out the atmosphere. I liked most of the dogs & owners that were there, but it was a bit much for Lola. His attitude though made me want to stop off there on the way home! I`m sure his advice was well meant, but he needs to learn at least that acting all 'doggier than thou' is NOT the way to get people to listen to him.

One the plus side, we discovered another good reason for adopting a shelter/rescue pup (I know the terms aren`t interchangable, but our no-kill shelter functions much like a rescue). We got a $10 discount on class registration
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Old May 18th, 2005, 11:48 AM
SnowDancer SnowDancer is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Toronto
Posts: 1,900
If your training centre offers it, Lola might benefit from some private lessons. Our Eskie at 14 weeks was emotionally more like 6 weeks due to background -but weighed 12 lbs. with very long legs and they do play rough. We met a lady at PetSmart as it turned out who has an Eskimo and our pup took to her right away. Due to our dog's size and the fact that a puppy class wouldn't be starting for 3 more weeks during which time our dog would continue to grow and be to rough for the other dogs signed up, we too 4 private lessons and then had him join a more Advanced group. It made all the difference at class. Just wish I had a nanny cam at home though! His trainer for his group was same person and she loves him. He felt a bit miffed that he had to share her attention so made himself the mascot of the group "helping" with the other dogs. Just a thought. I know Chows and Chow-mixes can be a handful. I was not ready for an Eskimo I can tell you.
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Old May 18th, 2005, 11:52 AM
Lucky Rescue Lucky Rescue is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 10,287
IF you don't like the trainer, find another.

As for the dog park, that chaotic and uncontrolled atmosphere (often filled with clueless owners) is no place to socialize a puppy. You never know when another dog will bite her, or a fight will break out.

Your trainer is right - trauma at your puppy's age could ruin her relationships with other dogs for good. Puppies should have ONLY positive interactions with other dogs and people.

If you have any friends who have calm, tolerant older dogs for Lola to play with and learn from, that would be much better.
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Old May 18th, 2005, 12:44 PM
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pamha pamha is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: IL
Posts: 185
The way this club is run (all volunteer) we don`t have a choice in which trainer runs the class. Private lessons may be an option, but its more socialization we need than training help. I really like the club in general and the lady that runs the class is great. It wasn`t the advice I took objection to, I don`t plan to frequent the dog park, just the snarky (IMO) way he assumed HE could deal with it, while I better not even try it. This week we`re planning to get to class earlier, maybe if Lola is one of the first ones there she`ll be a bit more confident.

SD, our older dog is a chowmix and she`s been so great we`ve been watching for a similar mix for a couple of years. Very smart, calm & good with kids. We`ve been spoiled though, every dog I`ve had has been from someone we know, so we knew at least some of the background & I didn`t even think to ask when we adopted Lola, we were mostly looking for the mix we wanted and watching her behavior before we picked her. I just wish we had found a puppy a few years ago when Maggie was active enough to play. Most of the dogs I know now are too old or we don`t see them often enough to have regular playdates. We did get sort of a compliment at class though, the guy I dislike said a lot of pups with her background would be basket cases, so we must be doing something right! She`s completely house-trained, has mostly stopped the biting & is responding really well to obediance training at home.

Thanks for the comments to my little rant.
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Old May 18th, 2005, 12:48 PM
Prin Prin is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2005
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I just wanted to say that a doggy can get bitten at a dog park and become afraid of dogs at any age. Probably more so as a puppy, but don't think that doggies can handle themselves because they're 4 or 6 or whatever. It only takes one incident. I think it is best for anybody who does go to dog parks to really learn body language so you can tell before someone comes in and by looking at who is already inside, what the chances of the park becoming unsafe are. All in how high the tail is forced up, the ears, how straight the neck is, etc. I consider myself very experienced in dog parks but even I leave when a dog makes me uncomfortable.

Just a little aside-- at my dog park meeting last night, I was reminded of the day that there were 4 male, intact pitties in the park. There was a parking lot full of cars waiting for them to leave so they could bring their dogs in.

Dog parks can be safe one minute and unsafe the next. You have to be so alert and ready to run to your doggy.
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