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Judging a Pet Dog Trainer by Their Own Dog?

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
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Mulder

Spooky Mulder
 
 
Barked: Wed Nov 28, '12 11:31am PST 
One can only hope the "best" trainer in that situation would be one who was honest with you confused

Some things CAN'T be fixed, and you have to be realistic with you expectations. Screwy genetics, for instance, can't be "fixed". Lets say you have an ill-bred Akita with massive genetic DA. As in, seek and destroy, kill another dog on sight DA. You're never going to make that dog NOT DA. You can train it to be agreeable in public, maybe to be calm and safe around other dogs... but the dog is not "fixed", he would still probably kill another dog under the right circumstances.

But then lets say you've got an otherwise correctly wired Lab who'd just never been socialized properly and was acting "DA", barking and lunging and whatever else people associate with that term, because he's over stimulated and under trained. Well sure, there's an issue you can potentially "fix". Burn some energy off of him, work on focus, let him have appropriate interactions with other dogs, etc, etc, etc.

Which isn't to say hope is lost for dog in scenario #1... being able to train a dog with that issue to be responsible and manageable in public is very POSSIBLE... but maybe you give up on that dream of taking Mr. DA Akita to the dog park on weekends, or whatever.

You have to, again, be reasonable with your expectations.
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Lucille

I am the Sock- Bandit!!!
 
 
Barked: Wed Nov 28, '12 12:50pm PST 
That's true, Tiller, they are known just not for competition themselves.

There really are so many things that books or a course cannot tell someone. That is a good place to start, but I'd be very wary of a puppy class given by someone who hasn't raised a puppy.

So true that some trainers keep dogs that just needed a place for whatever reason. A collection of washed out hunting dogs comes to mind, with a trainer who has a huge heart. Great dogs all, but if you were a hunter and judged him by what the guy has at home, you'd run away. But he's trained several top Dales. To Mulder's point, sometimes no amount of training will override instinct or lack thereof.
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Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
 
 
Barked: Wed Nov 28, '12 1:00pm PST 
I personally would be more impressed by a trainer whose dog clearly had an over the top issue but was still managing to give that dog a good, full life. Coming to mind is a friend from a few years back who had a Pit who was DA of the highest regarded....that sorta wacko "happy" aggression where he just wanted to tear dogs apart. They were his playthings. Very drive-y, intense. This was a dog you lock in your basement. But he was so dead trained, he could go anywhere. She took him to PetSmart twice a month...a battering ram of sorts to proof and practice. Always a gentleman. That is what ethical Pit culture promotes...that control is the paramount, vs expecting your dog to be something he isn't.

I think interesting to me, and why there might be these differences of perspectives, is that what I want from training is a dead trained dog. A dog I can bring anywhere and not worry that there is going to be some problem. Just whatever that scenario out there that I don't expect, and due to him being so rock solid, he is safe.

In all my years of owning dogs, that is what matters most to me. It has saved the life of my dogs on a few occasions, and the number of unhappy circumstances it averted likely are countless.

Dogs are going to be who they are. Tiller is very territorial and gets pissed off when people are on his property. He's a Giant Schnauzer...it's not as if that is unexpected. It's appreciated, actually, perhaps some pain in my butt but it would be FAR from such if a stranger wandered into my house. I don't care if he doesn't like strangers. I cared with Onion....because I was near phobic about Giant Schnauzer fallout...and had the frakking funniest result! I conditioned him *perfectly* He was an awesome greeter! Celebrity of his neighborhood! Onion loved everyone. Ummm, for like the "less than five minutes" that usually meant getting a treat or a good love slap. But this beautifully greeting dog...I mean, how funny is THIS laugh out loud....if I had people over, BIG greeting, BIG love fest, and once that timer clicked, he'd be in the room with a low growl. "Ok, I said hi, now get OUT!" big laugh So really, what was that conditioning work for? It was totally against who he was. It WORKED....I mean, greeting people was great fun. It did not CHANGE that he did not want people on his property. Which is not abnormal for a Giant. It's normal. Now I have Tiller, who I much prefer in that aspect. He'll be normal for his pedigree and warn strangers he sees coming onto his property. He's controllable...he's trained...but he's pissed and that's ok. He's a Giant. But as you know, Duncan, after ten minutes or so he sees you are invited and will rub up against you. I'd far prefer that than the friendly greeter I built in Onion, who was just flat out confused. Good stuff happens when people come to me! Ok fine....give me my goodie and now WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE? laugh out loud big laugh

They are Giants, so now I let them be that. Onion taught me a lot through that. What conditioning is and its value, and limitations. It doesn't rescript the world, if the dog is balanced. I could have shown up at Petco, and he would have been so lovely for you. You would have been over the moon with this spectacular greeter! And then if I had you over for tea, by your fifth sip he'd have been saying, "look lady, you don't get how this stuff works! now beat it!" Whereas if I bring Tiller, at a place like PetSmart, he'll ignore you. That's training. Maybe you don't like that....that is not a friendly dog! But if you then you follow me home, by that fifth sip of tea, he will say "oh, the master seems to like you, my name is Tiller, and yours would be?"

In the end, neither of these boys were thrilled with strangers. One was conditioned so that he looked good on the surface, but it didn't change who he was. And I felt bad about that, as he didn't like strangers any better in any extended sense. By DEFINING strangers as "good things come from" rather than letting him simply appreciate their company for the sake of it, I actually decreased his tolerance. Tiller, far less socially inclined, is more naturally receptive and appreciative of strangers once they have my clearance. Going for that exterior result was a flaw and a well learned lesson. Which brings me back to why 18,000 hours of direct training dog experience with 200+ individuals trumps 800 hours of direct dog training experience on three pets anytime.
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Risa- W-FDM/MF RE- RL1 CA CGC

Awesome Dog
 
 
Barked: Wed Nov 28, '12 5:02pm PST 
Some dogs are too far gone to be considered "normal." Whether due to upbringing, experiences, or genetics. It's unrealistic for anyone to think they can fix every dog with training. However, most dogs can be helped to live better lives through training. How far towards "normal" they get is determined by a lot of factors. Some in the trainer's control and many not. After all, if the family is not on board or willing to make some lifestyle changes, things aren't going to get better for the dog no matter what the trainer recommends.

I'm not a professional trainer (though I have trained several dogs who were not my own and I have taught a couple classes) but my own dog is an "issue dog." She is fearful, unsure in new situations, and dog reactive. I got her to be my competition dog and my 'go anywhere do anything' dog. Foolish thought, perhaps, in hindsight. But I was able to get there with her. It took a TON of hard work and a lot of adjustment on my part. I had to give up on the idea of just training the behaviors necessary for competition and really focus on making her life better. Having her be less fearful and more confident. Being less afraid of dogs. THOSE were my goals and I worked really hard for 4 years before I was confident we could step into the ring and compete. Even now, it is very difficult to compete with her but most people are unaware of her problems. She still is fearful and doesn't like dogs in her space. But she trusts me to keep her safe and I trained several coping mechanisms that helps her get through it. I was even able to start fostering which was a real challenge as she is less comfortable with other dogs indoors. It's working out fairly well, considering. smile The two have become fast friends.

I also know several other people who have taken less-than-ideal canine competitors and achieved high-level titles with their dogs (along with just making their dogs' lives happier overall). Then again, I also know some people who had huge aspirations for their dogs and the dog will never reach that level. There is just something genetically wrong with their dog. It doesn't stop them from training and working towards making their dog have a happy, fulfilling life. It's just there is only so much that can be done, sometimes. That's what I mean by not being miracle workers. There is a lot that can be done. And I don't think anyone should simply give up or not try because there is a chance the dog can't be "fixed." I personally find you grow a lot more as a person (and a dog trainer whether professionally or not) by working with a dog like that. It's far more challenging, enlightening, and rewarding to work with a "behaviorally challenged" dog. In my experience, anyway. smile

Any trainer worth their salt would be honest with you about your dog as well. If your goals were completely unrealistic, they should be willing to let you down easy. wink

Edited by author Wed Nov 28, '12 5:06pm PST

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Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
 
 
Barked: Wed Nov 28, '12 6:15pm PST 
I think you grew with your dog. I am not sure how influencing that is, but I think it helps with the bond majorly, and in all your successes, there is nothing but sweetness, nothing but victory.

I think it can be harder losing what you had. My psycho Hatteras was a perfectly normal dog for the first two years of his life. And then, just very much public enemy number one. I got with an amazing trainer and the strides he made were awesome, but it still was hard not to miss what was there. And Chester, he used to be my #1 player with the fosters. Until one attacked him. And that really changed everything. I've got him to the point where he was not the Tasmanian Devil, and older now I think he's mellowed a bit....a little closer to tolerance not feeling like a young gun anymore....but it is just heartbreak knowing what was. Just back to the time where he thought I brought every foster home to be his love match.

That's really hard. Particularly with Chester, who was always sort of cocky. I made my husband promise never to let me foster, but I am a bit of a bulldozer and when I got the urge he couldn't really stop me. I always knew Chester was vulnerable because his big German dog housemates let him have his way. He wasn't aggressive, just overly pushy and assumed that was the world...he was king. Which just opened the door up for a dog to get pissed off, which happened and unfortunately with a Boxer female who hit him really hard. Over the top. You can't take that moment back, sadly. He went very well with his rehab, which right after the attack, for whatever odd reason, had made him massively aggressive towards my Giant Schnauzer, who had nothing at all to do with the attack. They used to be best friends. frown In the end, Chester could tolerate him, but I always supervised. Made strides with that, made strides with him being less intense with the fosters. But I never had joy with it. All I have is sad for what he used to have and what now was stolen, which basically was my fault.

So I think that can be a difference. There's really not much joy in that progress to me. Seems like a half bargain of sorts, to a dog who once was so much innocence and pure, unbridled joy. It will always break my heart.
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Risa- W-FDM/MF RE- RL1 CA CGC

Awesome Dog
 
 
Barked: Wed Nov 28, '12 7:04pm PST 
It's been very influencing. For if I did not have a dog like her, there would have been no reason to change. I thought I knew it all. I didn't. Clearly. wink Made a lot of mistakes and very thankful that none of them ruined our relationship or my dog completely. She forced me to think outside the box and learn to really listen to dogs not just tell them what to do. Very eye-opening experience I never would have received with a normal dog. I wouldn't have needed to change my perceptions.

Ris is also extremely smart and, without her behavioral challenges, would have been a snap to train. Actually, she IS a snap to train. Just the other stuff sometimes obfuscates it in the ring. I'll admit, I like a bit of a challenge. smile

Edited by author Wed Nov 28, '12 7:06pm PST

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