View Full Version : Pet behaviour Scotland...

10th June 2009, 09:50 AM
Has anyone had experience with any of these trainers? I have spoken to a lady about Dylan. He really hates other dogs. He gets very scared around them and growls and barks. The last straw was yesterday when he snapped at my cousins 6 month old puppy.

Anyway I called Pet Behaviour Scotland to enquire about getting Dylan into a class. The lady said that she would not recommend the classes but rather a one on one session with him. This would involve a trainer assessing Dylan for 2-3 hours and then giving us advice on how to handle the problem.

Does this sound like a good idea? It is going to be quite expensive but I am willing to pay if it is going to help Dylan.


10th June 2009, 10:11 AM
Snapping at a puppy really is not unusual -- what was the puppy doing? Usually an older dog snaps because puppies get rude and annoying. The snapping -- without any intention to harm -- is an older dog's way of teaching manners. It is actually veru useful for growing pups to get this kind of reprimand from adults as it helps them to learn how to behave acceptably as an adult.

I'd very much recommend *immediately* downloading Dr Ian Dunbar's book After You Get Your Puppy from www.dogstardaily.com. This is an excellent book, one of the best training guides for pups or adults, and he has made it available for free. It will have advice on socialising dogs.

Have you done an obedience class yet? I would actually recommend doing a group obedience class in a rewards based class (eg NOT one that uses corrections, requires choke chains, won;t let you train with a harness, etc). It sounds to me like you have a young, undersocialised dog that hasn't met enough dogs day in, day out to be comfortable with them and is starting instead to show fear aggression. Ian Dunbar spoke about this issue when over here a couple of months ago -- noting that many dogs start to get like this because they may do one class and after that, rarely meet other dogs except in confrontational situations like on a lead on walks -- so they start to get defensive.

IMHO assuming he isn;t actually dangerous to other dogs, the best and most productive way to deal with this is a group class and to get advice from a trainer there, not to get one on one advice in the first instance, especially if he is a young dog that just needs basic fun obedience and to meet more dogs in a non-threatening, happy atmosphere. In the UK I would only be looking for classes from an APDT or CPDT certified trainer or ask if you can come observe part of a class to assess the methods.

www.apdt.com has a drop down menu listing qualified trainers around the world.

It is important to get this addressed immediately as the problem will only become more and more difficult.

Generally most trainers would suggest having a dog like this checked thoroughly to eliminate any medical cause (eg some form of pain) causing the dog to be overly protective and defensive.

Do NOT punish your dog for behaving like this or you will reinforce the fear and aggression.

10th June 2009, 10:23 AM
PS I see one of the trainers is APDT certified but don't know anything about this practice.

Did they ask if you'd done obedience before? Any training? How much context before advising a one on one session? Maybe they felt he is too difficult for a group class (which could be a fully legit concern of course! I can only go on the brief info in your post)? In my experience though with trainers I like, the general recommendation would be to bring the dog into a group class as often these things are simply a minor matter of adjusting to a group and then moving forward from there. Often dogs like this simply lack confidence and are therefore defensive. Obedience and activity with the owner helps build confidence and relax the dog while doing this in the company of many other dogs and people defuses the situation a dog may have seen before as fearful or a place of potential conflict.

I'd simply wonder why the recommendation to do one on one for a problem that might best be approached in a group class. If I were a trainer I'd be suggesting bringing Dylan early before a group class just to assess his response to other dogs for myself before recommending a class or private session. I've been through this kind of thing with dogs at Dog Training Ireland and know this is how they'd likely proceed. But presumably you have given them a lot more info and maybe they feel that is the best way to go.

10th June 2009, 10:33 AM
Thanks Karlin.

The puppy was not annoying Dylan. She was playing with my other dog Bailey. As soon as the puppy came into the room Dylan stiffened and started growling. The puppy then came up to sniff Dylan and that is when he snapped at her. He also had a bite at her tail (he did not hurt her).

My Aunt also brought her dog into our house the other day. The dog is also a puppy but is much larger than Dylan. Dylan barked from the minute the dog came in until the dog left. He is very frightened of other dogs.

When I explained this to the lady at behaviour Scotland she seemed to think that putting Dylan in a class with other dogs would just make things worse. Would you disagree with that?

I know that you are very experienced when it comes to dogs so i will definately take him to an obedience class if you think that it will help.


10th June 2009, 10:49 AM
I'm not a trainer; I am just going by how this same problem has been approached when I work with trainers.

The kind of reaction to the puppy that you describe though really is not necessarily that unusual. I have dogs that do not care much for puppies and telling a puppy to get lost -- eg snapping at it but not harming it -- would not be unusual. It really depends on context, the given dog etc.

The barking all the time sounds like overexcitement and overstimulation. I don;t know if that sounds like a high level of fear or aggression. I have two dogs that bark their heads off at other dogs. Then they settle down.

Let me put it this way: dogs like Dylan would not be considered a major issue by Ian Dunbar as we had some like this in his seminar here. He simply gave advice for how to manage them and encourage them to mix more easily with other dogs. Barking is not necessarily any sign of aggression.

If you have never done a class with Dylan and he doesn't often meet and mix with other dogs and didn't as he grew up, he is likely way overstimulated by dogs and unconfident around them and reacts inappropriately. It would seem odd to me to advise on managing this without having any other dogs around but I have no idea how this particular trainer works and approaches the issue.

10th June 2009, 10:59 AM
Thanks. I may be over reacting to the situation. I think I will give the classes a try and if it doesn't go well then consider the one on one assessment.

Would it be a good idea not to take Bailey to the classes and let Dylan do it by himself?

Cathy Moon
11th June 2009, 12:10 PM
Our CPDT (certifed pet dog trainer under APDT) trainer has a very good approach for this. He always asks that you stop in with your dog to register for the class at least one week before the class you want to take starts, but not during other class times. Then he can assess your dog (for free!) to determine which is the better route for the dog - private or group sessions. He has his own dogs on site, and he can observe your dog's reaction to viewing them from the same distance other dogs would be in class, so it's really the perfect situation for determining the best route.

The problem with bringing your dog to a group session when he may not be ready for it - is starting off on the wrong foot. In dog training it is easier to start off with small successes and to build on them than to start off with trauma/failure and try to recover from it. A negative experience in class will make it harder to overcome the stress in order to have future positive experiences.

I have seen an anxious dog progress from one on one training sessions, to group classes where the dog and owner are behind a 'privacy panel' for the first several sessions in order to let the dog slowly adjust to the group setting. Finally after many weeks the dog could walk on lead past all the other dogs and maintain self control.

You know your dog, and the experienced trainer will know the best approach to take after meeting your dog and discussing him with you. I would let the trainer decide.

11th June 2009, 04:35 PM
The problem with bringing your dog to a group session when he may not be ready for it - is starting off on the wrong foot. In dog training it is easier to start off with small successes and to build on them than to start off with trauma/failure and try to recover from it. A negative experience in class will make it harder to overcome the stress in order to have future positive experiences.

Yes that's the same basic approach from Dog Training Ireland -- if the dog might not fit into a class they'd have you bring the dog when others are around but the dog remains on lead -- not have you bring to an actual class if they think there are problems. Or they'd have you show early for the class and on assessment then either have you stay or recommend private work or whatever.

I can't quite understand how a home management session with only the dog in question would be helpful though -- really, I'd expect a trainer to first assess the dog;s level of reactivity and the obvious way to do this is as above -- bring your dog to the start of some other class or for a formal assessment, free or paid for. A quick assessment shouldn't be anywhere near the cost of a private training session (and often is free) and you should be travelling to the trainer's centre, IMHO. I'd then go with the trainer's recommendation.

What you have described at least in the minimal detail there is not something I would expect a trainer to recommend private home sessions for but as I said, perhaps there's more going on than comes across in your posts. It is an issue to deal with but doesn't sound like much more than a hyper reactive, overexcited dog that would benefit from a class setting. My Lily is basically the same and so have been plenty of my rescues. That is why I often make a class a condition of homing. I emphasise again I am not a trainer -- though to be nice to myself, I've never yet incorrectly assessed one of my rescues or the best approach to take with the dog (unless Tara has been overly nice... :) ). I'm just saying that in this case, I don;t really understand why a quick assessment would not be the first step or why private work would help a dog that really needs to be seen and worked with in a situation where there are other dogs. icon_nwunsure I'd want a clear explanation of why this is the best approach before I'd pay the premium of private training sessions. This is not second-guessing the trainer; it is just a general response to the situation you described and if as is described, what I'd expect to see if I were facing a similar situation.

12th June 2009, 10:01 AM
Thanks everyone for your replies and help. I am going to speak to the lady again before I make any decisions. The only thing I can think of is that she has her own dogs that she will use to assess dylans reaction to.

I don't think Dylan's problem is that he gets over excited when he meets new dogs. I really think he is scared. If a dog approaches him he cowers away and growls. When we go to the vets office he hides under the seats if there are other dogs there. His whole body stiffens.

I don't know why he is like this as his sister Bailey is the exact opposite she loves meeting new dogs. It doesn't matter how big they are she will still run over to them lol.

Also I don't think it is a private home visit but rather a one on one assessment at the training centre. As I said perhaps she will have her own dogs there that she can use. I will find out for sure tonight when I call her. She said the assessment will last 2-3 hours and will cost 120. This includes follow up help.