View Full Version : advise please

1st October 2006, 01:01 PM
Yesterday's training class was just awful. You know that other dog that picked on Kosmo? He was there, but Kosmo was very out of sorts with things.

I told the trainer how his eye had been hurt (it's better now) and how I don't want Kosmo to have to be near that other dog and she kind of told me that he needs to get over it and go anyways. I felt like I was the one being picked on when the other dog did the damage!! He did have to use a long line yesterday and we didn't go anywhere near him, but the trainer kept telling me that I was making him scared.. :huh:

Here's how it went: Kosmo would be OK and then if the other dog came within his sight he would freeze like a statue with his tail between his legs. We were practicing the "wait" command and I could not get him into a sit wait or a down wait with ANYTHING. His tail was between his legs and he kept trying to hop up into my arms. The trainer told me that he needs to "beef up" and get over it, and that I should have to force him into a sit stay!! She told me to push his bum down. So when I finally got him into a sit and walked away he got up and tried to run after me, crying. Then she made me do it again and again until he finally did what was asked. When he finally stayed and then got to come to me, he was shaking like a leaf.

I kept telling her "he's scared, his tail is between his legs" and she kept telling me "he needs to get over it. You have to be firm with it and follow through no matter what." So we obviously were having a conflict of intrest because I had this dog that has gone from the top of the class (consistently) to the one who hides under his chair, will not listen, and doesn't want to be around other dogs.

When the dog finally left, his tail came out of between his legs and she's like "see you have to show him that you're not affected by Casey." But the problem is that I AM affected by this other dog!! Kosmo is 12lbs, this dog is 120 on a bad day! I understand this dog is where he needs to be, but that doesn't mean that he needs to interact with Kos and be by him! When I look at Casey, I see a dog that could potentially hurt Kosmo very bad in a short amount of time, and it puts me on high alert to be within a leashes reach of this dog.

When we re-entered the ring, Casey sits near the entrance and Kosmo would go to the OTHER SIDE and then hide under my chair. When I touched him, he was trembling. We had to make our dogs sit as all the other dogs ran by and Kosmo tried to hop up onto the store's shelf! When I made him get down, he tried getting in between my legs.

I really feel like I was picked on all day in class yesterday. She is telling me that I am "encouraging his fear" by making sure that other dog does not get within reach of Kosmo and that "fear aggression" could potentially come out of that. She kept telling me that I was the problem!! I just wanted him to be happy and himself again. I kept telling him "kos, you're fine. Kos lets go.. Kos you want a cookie?" I didn't cradle him and say "oh my little baby it's ok you're alright" I just tried to change the subject and direct his scaredy cat ways to something else.

After this, the trainer made a point to talk about "fear" stages that dogs go through. She tried to make it like she wasn't calling me out, but she totally was. Kosmo has been so friendly with ALL other dogs, he still loves to play with them, but as soon as he sees that other dog, his complete attitude changes and his head goes down and his tail goes between his legs.

So guys, what I am I supposed to do in this kind of situation? I realize he needs to get over it, but I really don't blame him for being scared! Do you think he'll just get over it in a few weeks and move on? Any advice is appreciated. Thanks! :)

1st October 2006, 01:35 PM

Is there another club in your area that you could go to? or another class that you could move into for a while to regain his confidence?

If your little one is this worried about it all then I fear that more harm could be done by pushing him through the class if he is that desperately upset and unhappy by what has happened then to try and work this thing through as the trainer thinks you should. Every dog and every situation is different, and all should be treated so.

Sounds like your trainer needs a quick course in some new people skills as well. I have always felt that it is so very benificial to have good communications with your trainer. Stress in yourself is not good, it travels down a lead and can be heard in your voice and shown in your body language, your little one will sense it. If your trainer makes you feel edgy and nervous then this will happen.

Do you enjoy this class like you should be doing? Perhaps you could talk alone in quiet after the class with the trainer when she has more time and make her understand your concerns, if all this fails I would find another training school.

Take care, :flwr:

Alison, Wilts, U.K.

1st October 2006, 03:42 PM
I would quit that class with a trainer who takes that type of approach. :x And she needs to do a lot more reading and training to correctly understand what fear aggression is, how puppies react to being scared, how to condition a puppy or any dog to something it fears, and why the problem is the other dog and her attitude, not a young small CKCS who was set upon by a dog 10 times its size.

1st October 2006, 03:47 PM
PS I would quit this class anyway on the basis that the instructor is teaching 'sit' by having you force down his behind. Look for a class that does not manually force the dog to do anything, either by pushing or pulling, or jerking on collars. A treat held over a dog's head and slowly backed up will take the dog into a very happy sit and the at the end of training you'll have a cheeerful dog not an anxious one that has been pulled and pushed around. Look for a class where the trainer will let you sit in for a class (without Kosmo) to observe before you commit.

1st October 2006, 04:46 PM
Thank you guys for your opinions.

Karlin you are right. I almost left yesterday because I thought it was ridiculous on how this was being handled. I felt like it wasn't US who had the problem and I don't know why we were being punished for it. I did have a treat and tell Kosmo to sit many many times. I put it up in the air for the gesture to sit but his tail was between his legs and his head was down. He was like a statue. Kosmo is one of those "sitters" who sits at the drop of a hat. He's not allowed to get pets from strangers without first siting down (I taught him that so he doesn't jump) and he has a wonderful automatic sit all the time. He also never gets treats unless he's sitting down. He is VERY VERY well behaved at all times and barely ever gets in trouble because of this. Now sometimes he's a little devil icon_devil like every puppy, but generally he's very well behaved.

It really bothered me that given his history he was refusing everything even treats because he will do ANYTHING for a treat!! I didn't understand how come she said to "push his bum down." I said he is SCARED leave him be and she's like NO you have to follow through.. ugh We did argue about it for a few minutes. I eventually got him to sit on MY OWN by cupping his face in my hands and talking to him gently. I've learned that by doing that and keeping direct eye contact with him he will listen to me always. lol I said "Kosmo, please be a good boy honey .. Sit down and wait, OK?" and he did!

I am going to look for a different center to finish his training. He's fine how he is now, he's practically through the intermediate, but i enjoy training because I get to spend time with him and it's an activity for both of us to do. Training class brings us closer I think. :) We're working to be a therapy dog and that prospect really excites me. He'd be a wonderful candidate for that. I am just confused because this is supposed to be "positive reinforcement" training but I don't see how that could include forcing your dog to do something especially when he's scared out of his mind. I would be concerned with him if he was like this with EVERY dog there, but it's just that big crazy hyper-active one. He was playing with a little JRT yesterday and then casey came around the corner and he immediately stopped and hid. If I were Kosmo, I think I would be scared too!

Fear aggression seems out of the ball park to me. I know there are a few cavs who do have it but I think most have come from not the best situations. i could never imagine Kos being guilty of fear aggression. THe only guilty thing he is is being too spoiled! But I am sure you all can't imagine that, huh? :roll:

1st October 2006, 04:47 PM
Also - if she understands fear stages she'll know that you should not force a ddog into fearful situations when they're going through a fear stage. It can set them up to be fearful for the rest of their lives.

I"m very anti-coddling. I think owners can really make a dog even more fearful if they coddle and baby a dog. So I understand that part of what the trainer was trying to do. But there are better ways of getting a dog over a fearful situation than just "forcing them" to be there. You need to pair that with lots of positive reinforcement lilke treats and praise and playing. so they then see that the scary th ing is not that scary after all. Unfortunately, Kosmo already knows that Casey is dangerous because he got hurt by him once. So I think it's fine for him to be cautious, wary, and even fearful around him.

1st October 2006, 04:50 PM
Dogs become fear aggressive when they're forced into fearful situations and feel they have no way out. Not unlike what your trainer was trying to do to Kosmo, I think.

1st October 2006, 04:56 PM
Puppy physics say that head goes up, butt goes down. Have never seen where a puppy needs to be forced into a sit. I too think you should look for a more positive style trainer.

Cathy T
1st October 2006, 08:18 PM
I totally relate to what Rory's mom says. If I coddle mine in an uncomfortable situation they take that as reinforcement to continue the behavior. I was having issues with Jake having panic attacks and, of course, I would comfort him. I got lots of advice on how to handle it and what worked best was to ignore the behavior. If you act like it's nothing they pick up on your behavior. But.....I agree that you should find another class. And Kos's age you definitely don't want fear to be such a part of his personality. Rather than force him through it...you probably should have been advised to move onto to something else and let the moment pass.

Sounds like you guys have a really good bond and he responds well to you. Heck...you're his mama...you know what's best for him! :) If you're not comfortable...dont' continue.

1st October 2006, 08:38 PM
Yep agree totally with Rory's mom on this too. :thmbsup: That is it in a nutshell. A trainer who is kind of halfway there but not understanding that she is advocating an approach that will CAUSE the problem she is thinking she is training to AVOID. :roll:

And if he already has a good sit with a treat then the problem is not ever that you need to force him into a sit. Kosmo is as Rory's mom says, rightly cautious around a dog who caused problems before. If I were that trainer I'd have said to take Kosmo as far away as possible and see if you can work with him, or else, to try a different one of her classes were that particular dog wouldn't be around.

This is like saying to a child that they have to go to school and get used to sitting by the class bully to get over their fear, even if they got punched last week by him.

1st October 2006, 08:42 PM
It sounds to me like Kos was just being a sensible dog- poor baby had been hurt/frightened once; he'll probably get over it, but not immediately, anymore than you would recovering quickly from a mugging! Holly once got jumped on by a border collie in the park (dog hated little dogs) and although she wasn't hurt- a miracle in itself as the dog had just literally thrown a little JRT in the air, and then jumped on Holly's back and went for her neck/throat- it was a while before she became her usual merry self around larger dogs. Holly wasn't a puppy; this happened within the past year, so she was 2 at least. I'd agree with the others; find another trainer. Could you talk to others in the class? How do they feel about how you/Kos were treated by the trainer?

I'm also interested in the responses re discouraging fear. Holly tolerates the new puppy very well, but she prefers to stay out of it's way and she has that white-eyed "What the heck is going on?" look. I've been thinking that perhaps the way to get her used to the pup quickly is to control exposure to the pup, ignore Holly's nervousness, and praise her to the skies when she shows interest or lies beside me when I have pup on lap...similar sort of idea, I think,

1st October 2006, 09:04 PM
Thanks Rory's Mom, Molly, and Cathy T,

I did have a treat that I was trying to goat him into a sit with. I did have it in the air, he just was not attentive to it in the least bit. I would say his name and he would look at me but his tail was between his legs and he was frozen. He could have cared less about the cookie and what's worse is this was one of those "special treats" that on any given day he would have done ANYTHING for. I really do mean anything.

It is nice to have some reinforcement. I know this is sort of a "grey" area for many people as I do understand they need to get over their fears. Heck, Kosmo is afraid of all kinds of things. Broom, Vacuum, Dust Pan, door stopper ( :huh: ) and sometimes he will bark for hours at them. EventuallY I get tired of hearing him and I'll go and put the stuff away or open the door to cover the door stopper. I don't cradle him, just put it away and ignore him. When he was little the broom was leaning against the wall and he tried to play with it which caused it to fall down on the floor and make a loud sound. Since that day, he's been scared of it, lol. . . :roll: When he sees other things that he's scared of, like the big cats and bulldozers when we're on a walk I just walk by them and ignore him. One time when we were driving we were side by side to a tractor trailer and he FREAKED. I couldn't help it, it was hillarious, I had to laugh. That seemed to calm him down, but holy cow that was funny.

So you can see, he is scared of things that are ignored. However, I think this context is totally different and it's something that needs to be addressed. When Kos is so scared that he doesn't even want to move, that is hurtful to me. Maybe it's because I am his mama, but I don't like to see him in that state. I don't know about all other cavlaliers, but Kosmo would probably rather die than stick up for himself. He's very VERY gentle and submissive 100% of the time. I've never seen him stick up for himself, even when we were with another cavalier who came up and took a jerkey treat out of his mouth! I believe when it gets to this point, then there is definately a problem. It should never be to the degree where I am fearful of his psychological state and his physical well being. I thought it was dead wrong to force him through that exercise. I felt like instead of forcing him, he should be gradually re-introduced into these situations. He was like that in the beginning, you know. When I first got him he was so fearful he would always hide under the chair. It did take a lot of work at home and a lot of meeting other dogs to bring him out of this, but we finally worked through it. He was happy to see anybody, although always a little cautious around Casey. When Casey freaked and ran to attack him, he was off leash and there was nothing I could do other than run after him, but by the time I got to him the damage was already done. Now I feel like my efforts have been backslid a little bit. I do have 2 more weeks of this class and I have to continue it to get my certificate but I think I am switching to a different night. She said "yeah we have big dogs in the other class too" but it's not about having big dogs. It's about having dogs who are not under control and owners who have a hard time realizing that. If I had a dog like Casey and I knew there was a previous history of him going after small dogs (like she told me AFTER he got hurt) there's no way on this earth that I would let him off leash. What happened if it were a customer's dog he had hurt?

I am sorry to go off on a tangent but the more I sit and think about it the more upset it makes me.

Cathy Moon
2nd October 2006, 12:29 PM
I'm sorry to hear what you and Kosmo have been through at the training class. :( That must have been embarrassing and humiliating to be singled out and forced to do what you knew was wrong for your baby. :x

Make sure that you go observe classes at other clubs or training centers before you join!! I was looking into joining another club to get Geordie into more advanced agility with more/better equipment, and I was surprised at how backward some of the bigger clubs are! At one, I saw a large breed puppy wearing a prong collar :cry*ing:

I decided to stay with the training center I belong to, because they are all APDT certified and use 100% positive reinforcement training, plus everyone who I've met there has excellent interpersonal skills.

2nd October 2006, 03:45 PM
Geez, that sounds awful!!! We're taking our puppy to a Petco class, and I didn't think I'd be impressed but we got a good deal and I knew it would be good for socialization. They limit class size and have a small-dog puppy class. The trainer told us not to force them to do anything they're afraid of like being around another dog! She does everything with positive reinforcement and positive attitude. I was pretty impressed with her.

I'm sure you can find a better class somewhere for Kos. Poor guy. I read a book by an autistic author, Temple Grandin, about animal behavior. She hypothesizes in the book that fear is worse than pain for animals. After owning guinea pigs, I can totally understand this. Good luck in finding a more suitable class!

2nd October 2006, 06:24 PM
{{{{{{{{Sara & Kos}}}}}}}} I really feel for you. That woman shouldn't be running a training class if she hasn't enough people skills or is trying to force Kos into a situation that scares him with good reason.

I wonder if she's bothered to chastise the other owner like she has you or if she's just done it to you because she thinks you're a soft touch (as in soft touch as soft dog!).

Want me to come and sort her out for you? :D

3rd October 2006, 06:02 AM
I would definitely look for a different trainer!