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! :)
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.