View Full Version : Middle School Panic Attack

Maggie's Mom
23rd January 2007, 12:33 PM
Maggie was great in Puppy Kindergarten. Learned all her lessons and although a little frightened of one Rottweiler and a big lab, she made it through. We started "Middle School" last week. 2 huge Great Danes, 1 Siberian Husky and 4 huge Labs in the class with my poor little Maggie. She had a major panic attack. Frothing at the mouth, vomited and forgot everything she ever knew. I do not know if I should just ask for my money back. $180 for 7 lessons or give it one more try???

The last school had socialization time before class so the dogs knew that the other puppies were not there to hurt them. Don't know it it is worth making her crazy.

23rd January 2007, 12:54 PM
I'd talk to the trainer and say you really feel she needs a class that is at least, mixed in sizes, and see if you could take a future class that would suit her better.

But: did the trainer notice these problems, discuss them with you, explain why it is happening, and suggest specific things to do to help your cavalier? It is not good for her to be so frightened of larger dogs so a good trainer *might* take advantage of the current class and help her to overcome her fears by gently sensitising.

A large dog shouldn't scare a smaller dog just due to size. Leo for example, who is very confident around other dogs, has actually been used in a class of dogs with behaviour issues (eg ones that get way too overexcited at other dogs) to walk by at a safe distance with me. Even with a great dane in one case trying to rush toward him and barking and barking, Leo was indifferent. Now that is extra calm! But with a scared dog, you'd be doing the reverse, carefully using the very presence of the larger dogs in the class to make them less frightening.

If the trainer doesn't see this as a good and safe opportunity to do this (or doesn;t know how) I'd ask for money back and see if there would be a mixed class with some smaller dogs so that all would not be intimidating to her.

23rd January 2007, 08:01 PM
Did any of the big dogs show any signs of aggression to your dog?

Are you nervous around big dogs?

Has your dog been around any other dogs, big or small?

The situation and your dog's fear in the class could be linked to any of the issues above. If you're nervous with big dogs, your cavvie can pick up on your anxiety and manifest its own. If an incident has occurred with one of the other dogs, that could have scared it, too. Perhaps it isnt the size of the dog that is making Maggie nervous; it could simply be that they are dogs. If she hasnt had a lot of socialization, she could simply be shy of ANY dog, big or little.

Talking to the trainer is definitely the place to start.

On an aside, that seems pricey to me for the classes. Our classes are 55 dollars, with a ten dollar discount to puppy kindergarten graduates!

23rd January 2007, 08:52 PM
I think prices for classes in NY are going to be a lot higher than in Kansas! :) $55 is the bargain of the century; I'd love to find classes at that price. Ours generally cost much more than that to work with trainers in private classes (eg not run thru the IKC). However the IKC has el cheapo classes that are drop in -- but almost every trainer there requires choke chains and/or correction methods. There are some on this board who have had terrible experiences there with their dogs. :x So I would never recpmmend going there for anyone in Ireland unless you know a particular trainer and his/her methods.

Even for a dog that has never had a bad experience with big dogs, plenty of small dogs are very uncomfortable in classes where all the other dogs are huge. If she's been OK in a mixed class where she can train next to smaller dogs, that's what I'd aim for. It will make her less anxious and happier meeting the big dogs. :) A wall of big dogs is scary -- and also, not necessarily a safe training environment. Big dogs can seriously hurt a small dog just in play, especially if the big dogs are still puppies.

A good trainer will talk thru options and would never force anyone to attend a class that makes their dog uncomfortable. If the goal (and it is a key one, I think) of a mixed class is also to socialise your dog, it is important for her to be able to feel comfy with the rest of her classmates. That should be the trainer's goal for you too. :)

24th January 2007, 01:11 AM
Yeah, geography makes a difference in cost of living, for sure! The exchange rate between the dollar and the pound is getting scary. There are many benefits to living in the sticks!

24th January 2007, 01:23 AM
That's about the going rate for classes in Toronto too. :flwr: :flwr:

24th January 2007, 05:06 PM
I need to take Holly to classes because while she wouldn't be terrified of big dogs, she's not keen on them- understandably, between rotties frothing at her and border collies attacking her..- Amber on the other hand just loves dogs. The first time I took her to class she chummed up with the largest Newfie I've ever seen. She was eleven weeks old. You should have seen the look on that big dog's face! :lol:

Maggie's Mom
25th January 2007, 11:39 PM
The second class went far better. I think I may have been nervous becuase Maggie was tiny compared to the other dogs. She was also upset that she was not allowed to socialize with the other dogs before class(which we did in old class) I went in happy and talking to her and feeding steak every other minute. The trainer told me to keep giving her treats for every little thing she did correctly, and that seemed to make her feel better.

She showed off her old tricks and learned heel and walk on command. The did a meet and greet for the dogs, which I thinked help her to know that none of the dogs wanted to hurt her. She was still scared of the Siberian Husky, but he does look like a full grown wolf and barks very loudly.

We are paying $180 for 7 classes but live in New York. Unfortunately, everything is more expensivce here.

Maggie was OK, so at least she felt better in the class.

26th January 2007, 12:45 AM
Glad things went better this week. I'd be happy too if someone fed me steak for everything I did!! Where do I sign up?!! :p