Too Much Dog for Me?

If you are wondering what is the right dog for you, this is the place to be. In this introductory forum we talk about topics such as breed vs. mix, size, age, grooming, breeders, shelters, rescues as well as requirements for exercise, space and care. No question is too silly here. This particular forum is for getting and giving helpful, nice advice. It is definitely not a forum for criticizing someone else's opinion, knowledge or advice. This forum is all about tail wagging and learning.

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Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Thu Jan 10, '13 11:09am PST 
Stella, here is my advice to you. Reminding that I do deal with this sort of stuff all the time. Not pulling rank or anything laugh out loud, just trying to stress that I know where you are/where you are coming from.

The fundamental thing, the root, you must station upon is that if/when you send her off to doggie boot camp, this is is something you can't take back. Maybe you have a perfect dog after it, maybe you have a ruined dog after it, or odds are she will fall somewhere in between those two, either one who has to go back for refreshers or one who is behaved but lacks certain charms she used to have, and/or shows behaviors that make you a little sad and that weren't there before. But any of this, from the best, to the middle to the worst, is something you will not know until she goes and returns.

With all that said, what you owe to your dog first is to give things some chance. Three steps, two weeks. That is all I ask.

1. Get a copy of the Ian Dunbar book, "Before and After You Get Your Puppy," which is a good read and may very well offer insight as to why Stella behaves the way she does. Not only perhaps giving you ideas, but more importantly an understanding.

2. Enroll Stella in doggie daycare. Twice a week is fine, and is a normal path many select.

3. Get a gentle leader halter collar. While it is nothing I typically recommend, I am with Duncan in feeling it gives the sort of instant results that will be a good shot in the arm for you.

If in this time you see enough shift (and such sifts really can bolster confidence, a sense of promise, some inspiration), then contact one of the two trainers we've narrowed it down to and go from there. If not, then at least you know you've done what you could before making the decision to send her off.

Mischief is my- middle name
Barked: Thu Jan 10, '13 11:39am PST 
Stella, OK, now I see how I was confused - Some people post as if they were their dog, and there's a thread about a dog park attack where one dog bit another dog in the nose... Too much time on Dogster and all the threads are starting to run together for me laugh out loud

Waiting for- Treats
Barked: Thu Jan 10, '13 2:16pm PST 

Stella is at her first day of doggie daycare now, but I'm so disappointed that their web cam is down due to bad weather! I really wanted to see her play. They don't let people go into the play areas because it could excite dogs, but I did take a tour of the kennel area and it was clean. I'm excited to see if she leaves the cats alone when she gets home. It's weird being here without her, though it's a rainy day so I'm relieved to not have to wipe her feet when she goes out today. She sits there until I get to the last paw then wants to run off, that is unless I give her a rawhide to eat!

About the gentle leader collar, I read some reviews on amazon about how dogs could hurt themselves with it and that scared me off of it. About four or five people mentioned this, so I'm not sure. Is this what you're talking about:
http://www.amazon.com/Premier-Gentle-Leader-Headcollar-Black/dp/B0 0074L4W2/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

It had about 26 negative one-star reviews. That's a lot! I know this is supposed to give you more control, but I'm afraid she'll end up getting away from me if I use it. Maybe I worry too much about reviews...

I share your concerns about not knowing how Stella would be on return. I looked back at my pmail and you only sent one trainer. Maybe there's another message in there I'm not seeing. The trainer you sent didn't answer my email and I checked my spam. I should probably call her instead. I also talked with another positive trainer in the area that my vet bragged on. I was underwhelmed by her on the phone. I felt like it would be more of the same as the first trainer we worked with. I also got the feeling she's friends with my previous trainer.

Another option is to, gasp, try another group class. There's a really nice guy at my local natural pet food store who does classes every Sunday. He seems to like Stella, and we share the same vet. I might call to see if I can get some references from people who've done the class.

I'll look into that book. Thanks!

Off to see if the doggie cam is back up! blue dog

PS -- the cam wasn't up, but I'm wondering if I'm right about something. When looking over dog trainers in my area, I keep seeing people who offer "protection training" as well as obedience training. I'm not interested in that, but my gut tells me that people who do that type of training aren't the type I'd want to work with, even in a group class or in-home setting. Am I right here, or is "protection training" a valid thing?

Edited by author Thu Jan 10, '13 2:31pm PST



The Biggest Wag

Barked: Thu Jan 10, '13 8:57pm PST 
I feel compelled to re-post since I'm the one that brought up the Gentle Leader. I don't want to sound like a salesperson for this thing. It's not like I think everyone and their dog should have it and use it. Just that it's really good for certain owners and situations and seems like it'd be tremendously helpful for you & Stella.

I was introduced to the GL while working in Dogtown at Best Friends Sanctuary in southern Utah. Don't know if you're familiar with the place, but it's the largest no-kill sanctuary in the country. The National Geographic show "Dogtown" is about it. Anyway, they have hundreds of dogs in their care there on any given day, and decades of experience.

Volunteers are a hugely important part of the work of Best Friends. They come from all over the country, every day of the year, and after a brief orientation, they get sent into animal areas to help with every aspect of the daily care routines. One of these, very importantly indeed, is exercising and walking the dogs.

The dogs that were on a Gentle Leader, were on it specifically BECAUSE it was safer for both the dogs and the people. Including the volunteers; many of whom were not very familiar or experienced with dogs at all!!! During my time there, I'm not aware of any injuries to either dogs or people that occurred while a dog was being walked with a GL.

I'm not saying it's impossible for a dog to get injured while being walked on a GL. Of course it's not impossible for a dog to get injured in a flat buckle collar, or any other device. My impression, though, is that the GL is quite safe generally. It's probably a lot less likely for a human to get injured while walking a dog on a GL - since they won't get pulled down, arm-yanked, or what have you. It's very easy on a GL for even a small, lightweight human to have control of a large, strong dog.

Incidentally, another reason that we used Gentle Leaders on some dogs at Best Friends is in the case of dogs who were dog-reactive or -aggressive, or who had extreme prey drive. There are some dogs who roam the property freely during the day as a matter of trust (one of their nicknames is "Trustees"), and there are also so many volunteers walking dogs all over the place. So in the case of dog-aggressive dogs, they couldn't lunge at other dogs if they were being walked on Gentle Leaders. It eliminates lunging and lurching and that sort of behavior.

About losing control of Stella while using the Gentle Leader; that would definitely not happen if you were using the collar correctly (which, like I've said, is not difficult). Just have a knowledgeable salesperson at the store show you exactly how to fit it and put it on her.

I am very careful, too, about trying new tools, and understand your reticence. I might suggest you make sure that the retailer will take back the product and refund your money if you feel uncomfortable after trying it. If they can't do that, maybe the manufacturer themselves (yes, Premier) has a good guarantee. (I don't know if they do...haven't looked into it.) This way you could try it for a few days and see if it is something that works well for you & Stella.


Edited by author Thu Jan 10, '13 8:59pm PST


Waiting for- Treats
Barked: Thu Jan 10, '13 10:21pm PST 

I am familiar with Best Friends. I've interviewed their cat guy before, or one of their cat guys! I forgot you had mentioned them. I'll take a look at these in the store. I've only ever seen them online, but I guess I wasn't searching them out before. Thanks.

Just to update on daycare --

Stella stayed several hours, and seemed more tired than usual. They said she didn't have breaks. However, she still pulled on leash when I picked her up, not that surprising. I was surprised though that she still had the energy to badger my cats tonight! She let up at about 9 and fell asleep. I guess she was too busy to drink water and do her potty business while playing. She didn't even get all four feet in the door before she stopped and had a whole bowl of water, which happens to be by the door. Then she wanted wanted to go out and she had to pee and poop.

Anyway, they accepted her! She played with the large dogs. It's $24 a day, which seems pretty reasonable, until you think about it being $200 a month if she goes twice a week. Maybe I'll try once a week. What I really want to do is start a website where you can find people in your neighborhood in real time who are ready for a doggie play time! I guess I could go around asking all my neighbors with dogs if they want to give me their info for play dates. So far, only one neighbor with dogs who is home during the day has wanted to get together, and her dog is so sweet, but half the size of Stella!

So, do you think I have a really, really, really extra social dog who will only be happy with another dog? Maybe I'm misreading her interest in playing with the cats as wanting a play companion at home. Maybe she just thinks they are weird looking. No idea. The problem is that I can't play with Stella the same way other dogs do. She wants to roll around and be rough. Though she does like playing ball with me and chasing sticks too. I don't know. Maybe the cat badgering is boredom. I need to research some good dog puzzle toys. I don't really like the ones I've seen in the store. She has a puzzle ball for her kibble, but that only keeps her busy for 20 minutes. I need something that's a bit harder but still rewarding.
Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Thu Jan 10, '13 10:22pm PST 
I did want to back up Duncan. Gentle leaders are not something I typically recommend....falling into the realm of more managing a problem vs fixing it, which I admit isn't my bag wink....but they are an instant result and I think that's really "where you're at" now emotionally. The other thing that is my "bag" is understanding that sometimes things between a dog and owner can reach a head and they're just overwhelmed and need it to *stop* The GL would be something that would allow you to walk Stella comfortably from the day you get it. Duncan's comments about Best Friends and its using of this collar is no small thing. They are the most famed sanctuary in this country, with top staff, field experts and more to the point dogs who aren't really re-homeable. Really bad actors, so to speak. Injuries can occur but come from misuse only (hard jerking) and if you fear her getting away just have a second lead clipped to her buckle collar for your own sense of reassurance. You don't HAVE to use one, but if you'd like to put a stop to walking issues right away, getting a gentle leader would be the way to go.

Trying another group class is fine, particularly in that you seem to get along with this man and he likes your dog. Calling references is a smart idea. Nothing wrong with that idea. Getting around a trainer is SMART if only for the feedback and it sounds as if that is something to investigate smile Who knows....maybe the fates are with you way to go

Protection training is absolutely valid, but not what you need. *No matter what ANYONE says*, there is no trainer/training who specializes in all types of dogs/challenges. Protection trainers generally teach a dog how to be a good personal protector....sort of like a police dog, but safe and well adjusted for family life. It's higher sort of training that is very skilled, but not particularly well qualified for a cat owning couple with a rambunctious but happy family pet who just needs her to settle and have some manners.

You just need a good positive reinforcement trainer who can be a good coach to you. You are at the stage where Stella has become a little larger than life in your eyes and within your nerve center wink, but she's really only a rambunctious adolescent. The jury does seem to be in that she's a Doodle, and that's pretty par for the course, but nothing you can't make more manageable.

Will be curious to hear about doggie daycare smile

Edited by author Thu Jan 10, '13 10:23pm PST

Shiver Me- Timbers- "Charlie"

My Little Dog, a- heartbeat at my- feet.<3
Barked: Thu Jan 10, '13 11:10pm PST 
With Gentle Leaders, Halti's, Head Collars, etc, there is of course a possibility for injury - but there is with any training tool.

If you YANK or SNAP on the leash, you COULD harm her neck. However, when utilized properly, they can be a great aid. I use one quite regularly on my Beagle and have worked on his leash reactivity with it too. You either want to attach the clip of the Halter to the dogs collar, or have a leash attached to both the collar AND the Halter to prevent any potential escapes.

Proper Halter Use
Another vid

You can find more on Youtube on proper/safe Halti use.
Jackson Tan

Lad about town
Barked: Fri Jan 11, '13 2:23am PST 
If you have a lunger, get yourself a back clip harness and a double clip leash (or 2 leads) for any gentle leader work. It gives much better control.

I have a fear bolter and I would never put him in a GL on him by itself. His neck could be injured by the pop he would give himself. He has broken through collars before when trying to run!

I only use my GL at night when its quiet for that reason. Otherwise the loose lead you get from it is quite nice.

Waiting for- Treats
Barked: Fri Jan 11, '13 11:48am PST 
Thanks again for all the responses.

Tiller - I think we were posting at the same time. Did you see my comments about doggie daycare above?

Daycare was positive, but we did notice a small injury on her nose. In the future, I'll be able to monitor her better. (Their doggie cams were out.) They seem receptive to putting her in for a nap or rest whenever the owner requests.

As for her energy level today, the day after daycare. As I type this, she has just returned from her walk and is pestering my oldest cat, 9 years old, in the hallway. On the walk, I used the Lupine combo collar, which I bought about a month ago, but haven't used regularly. This is pretty much a friendly choke collar I suppose.

She did pull, but pulled less. However, when she saw the golfers ( I live by a golf course) and the window repair man at someone's house and a border collie out for a walk, she lunged. This makes her breathe heavily with the combo collar, and she just doesn't care. She wants to get to these people to interact. Overall, her energy level is more manageable, but certainly she's not where I want her to be. She's not even close to tired today. Hmm.. 1 pm I guess I could take her to daycare again today! Ha. I thought she'd need a break after her first day, but she apparently has more energy than I gave her credit for.

Tiller, I spoke with the trainer that does the group class at my local natural pet food store. He's actually not the guy I know. I was confused. However, he did offer for me to bring her by to observe the class. It is -- get ready for this-- conducted in the store when the store is open! They go outside when weather permits, or they stay indoors. He said it's just what she needs for distractions. Not sure. I may observe anon first.

About the breaking point thing with Stella. It comes and goes. Today is a better day. But she's still not behaving like the dog I want to keep for 10 plus years. I am attached to her, but my husband is very much attached to her. At this point, she'd have to injure one of my cats before we'd send her back to the rescue group.
Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Fri Jan 11, '13 12:39pm PST 
There's a lot you can accomplish, Stella. I am a breed matcher and adoptions counselor, and I am so NOT someone who insists a person must sentence themselves to their dog from here to eternity if the match is not a good one. Not good for them, not good for their dog.

Here, though, there is just a lack of structure, all told. I have Giant Schnauzers, who are....ummmm.....a LOT laugh out loud I love wildlife, I foster wildlife, and from a young age, my Giant Tiller was very much taught that baby squirrels are not play things and they are to be respected. I recall one time where I found a sick baby on his lonesome on one of our walks, and he wasn't doing well at all. I was in rush-rush-rush mode and lost my bearings where when I got back to my house placed the baby on the kitchen counter and raced off to make a call, in the throes of it leaving the squirrel unprotected against a loose Tiller. Realizing my error, I raced back into my kitchen in dread, but there he sat politely by the counter just very tentative with his nose towards the squirrel to sniff, and guarding the baby from all unwelcome. This is NOT, by any stretch of the imagination, a gentle breed. So it just goes to show what good structure and leadership is capable of. He wasn't even two at that time.

One of the primary things I do is puppy coach and then also consult for people with teenager dogs giving them trouble. It is very easy to not see writing on the wall and end up with a problem that seems very overwhelming, in parts because people weren't prepared for the sheer energy and brat factor of older puppies, and in part because, whether intended or not, there was a lack of structure and too much fact finding on the part of the youngster as to what they can and can not get away with.

This is just normal stuff, though, in terms of what you are going through. Not normal as in "so just accept it!," lol but normal as in "nothing exceptional or disconcerting." Stuff that can be worked on.

One of the interim things I can offer you is a long line, something of which I am a HUGE believer when it comes to older puppies. I use longlines on everything from puppies to aggressive dogs. And in terms of your cat situation, when she is being naughty, a very simple action of reaching down and picking up the long line Stella is dragging with some cue such as "quit!" and leading her away.

You hear all this internet stuff that training is as simple as rewarding behaviors you like and ignoring behaviors you don't. Great in theory, but in practice with some dogs not so much. I love long lines because it interrupts behavior without confrontation and there's not a heck of a lot a dog can do about it. Far more effective than a "bad dog! stop it! I said stop it!" yet far less confrontational, and even in a zone where she can't be redirected with enticement, it still gets it done. If you like, that can be what gives her a time out. Or, if you like that can be to the kitchen or wherever to work on happy obedience, such as sits, etc., with reinforcement. It depends on your sensibility. If you want something to lead to a positive association, "quit" = I am about to offer your treats for some nice performance, or if you are into consequence "quit" can mean stop what you are doing or you are going for a time out. Whatever you like.

Secondly, consider the cats, too. There are shelves you build high up and/or cat furniture to allow the kitties to claim their space safe from Stella. And cats LOVE height, love to have their own territory. This would do your cats a world of good and allow them to control the situation and get away from Stella if they so choose.

So there is a double strategy that can pay fairly quick dividends as well. There is much you can do. You give me a problem, I will give you an answer, and then run it through your own interpretation to some approach that suits.

For the long term, you will get through this when you approach the problem for the complexity that it is. This includes....

a) Understanding your dog and your role/influence a little better. The Dunbar book is excellent.

b) Through this, understanding that you do have something to do with this. You are, in some way, contributing to these behaviors of lacks thereof wink, so part of this is Stella, and part of this is the family dynamic. Both need addressing.

c) Understanding she is young and needs stimulation. This includes walks, positive play sessions (I can coach on this more too, as it will help build her impulse control) and the doggie daycare.

d) Enrolling in another training class. That they are conducted when the store is open is FINE. More distractions, and let's face it....Stella paying attention to you when there are more exciting things to do is part of your challenge, so such classes do put you a bit more in that fire and allow you to hone your communication better.
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