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Off to meet a new behaviourist tomorrow

(34 Posts)

Quite nervous, actually. We're meeting at 9.30 because of the heat. I've spoken to her on the phone, and she seems to understand his issues and wants to assess him tomorrow using her own dogs. She runs training classes for 'problem' dogs, so the idea is that we go tomorrow for assessment, and then take part in her obedience classes. Wish me luck <weak smile>

worsestershiresauce Mon 15-Jul-13 13:04:36

I have a fear aggressive dog, and have spent thousands (literally) on trainers, behaviourists, advice etc. Positive reinforcement, BAT, all of that - no help what so ever. I personally think that if it is a genetic trait inherent in the dog you largely have to live with it and just find a routine that suits them.

My DH has had the best results of anyone with the dog. He is very calm, and not even slightly bothered or stressed the problem. He simply holds the dog very firmly facing away from the other dog. I'm not sure if it is the fact the dog can't easily move, or that he feels that someone else is in charge, but whatever it is he doesn't kick off. When I walk him he does!

Probably no help, but just wanted you to know that it is hard, and even the experts don't have all the answers. Don't waste money on a trainer if you don't like them, their methods, or if they aren't making any progress.

Lilcamper Mon 15-Jul-13 12:36:42

For you needa No shock, no prong, no choke

needastrongone Mon 15-Jul-13 12:30:56

Aw chickens. Feel so much for you, I think we are not unlike you and I!

Can you describe the incident that caused Jas to become fear aggressive? Was it just one incident? Just wondering that, if you detailed the events, the experts could maybe give very specific advice maybe you could see exactly what triggers your tension? Just a thought, don't worry if not.

I would say relax, I know that ain't easy if you are just not that sort of person.

I also tend to probably transfer stress in other parts oft life into resenting the restrictions of the dog sometimes (not at the moment as I love and adore him!!) but sometimes find it useful to see what other shit is going on first, even just fatigue.

Probably a load of old cobblers but you seem a lovely person trying hard.

Ps. We have a slip lead for our spaniel but don't jerk or yank him around, just find the thing so much easier to take on and off and then work hard on heel, or dh does anyway, more honestly! I genuinely hadn't viewed it as a negative training aid. If anyone has any advice regarding my sister in law buying a shock collar to control her dogs recall then I am all ears!!'

I rung the trainer this morning and told her I wouldn't be coming back, and that I just couldn't use such techniques on my boy. She was ok about it, although clearly thinks I'm a soft touch.

Thanks for the info, daimbardiva, I'll look that up x

daimbardiva Mon 15-Jul-13 10:31:35

Also meant to say, happy to chat more, so PM me if you like. Sending you massive hugs and support x

daimbardiva Mon 15-Jul-13 10:30:30

Great post moosemama, my feelings exactly.

I'm not familiar with the background to this but have you come across Lesley McDevitt's "Control Unleashed" methods of training?

Reading your post, and especially the description of the behaviourist and her methods reminds me of what I went through years ago with my fear aggressive dog and a behaviourist whose methods and approach just did not gel with me, and stressed me out and made me feel inferior as described above. I then came across Control Unleashed and it was a breath of fresh air, working almost as much on my own anxiety as my dog's.

I'm unfortunately without dog at the moment, but when the time comes to get another I will be training using Control Unleashed from the word go.

At the time, there was an active forum inspired by the book on Yahoo groups which Lesley actually participated in, and there are a few groups who train this way in hte UK - really worth checking to see if there's one in your area.

Good luck - and do not be bullied by this behaviuourist. If it doesn't feel right to you, it isn't.

MallingDog Mon 15-Jul-13 10:17:30

I sympathize about the stress. I have a dog that is fear aggressive towards men (my other doggie died recently btw). I am always a little tense when walking her. It is ok if men just walk pass, but if they speak to me or go to stroke her she barks and sort of lunges at their legs (no bites though). Even when I say she is afraid of men, a lot of men will persist and try to stoke her (dumb or what...must be a man thing confused).

So walks are not as relaxed as they should be.

Thanks moose and Idirdog. You honestly can't know how much your kindness means to this anxious dog lover x

idirdog Sun 14-Jul-13 19:01:44

Moosemamma that is so well said.

I have done this course - I did not do it on line but face to face and it did help me recognise how my mood was affecting my dogs - (well one in particular!) and how I could change things. It might be of interest but to be honest I think you are doing great without it grin

canineconfidence course

moosemama Sun 14-Jul-13 16:53:38

I absolutely hate it when trainers or behaviourists take someone's dog off them and go about giving a display of how good they are for them. It's deliberately designed to make you feel inferior so that you'll pay for their services.

Yes, the dog probably does behave better for them, partly because they are an unknown quantity that is behaving in a very confident manner and partly because they probably do have years of experience reading dog behaviour.

As Idir said, her dogs will have met countless other dogs with varying problems and would have known how to give the appropriate calming signals to allow Jas to relax and start interacting with them.

Also, he may not have as much confidence to react if you aren't the one on the other end of the lead. I'll never forget when I took my FA boy to college with me and the tutor took his lead from me and asked me to step away. He literally changed demeanour in seconds - because I was no longer there for back up - he let her touch him and walk him around the class, he even sat and laid down for her ... and this was a dog that was usually seriously fear aggressive to humans.

Unlike your behaviourist though, my tutor explained why my dog was able to be handled by someone else in my absence and it helped us to realise that he was better off a the vets if we left him, as after we left he was meek as a mouse with the staff, whereas while we were there he was defensive and aggressive. It also meant we were able to get the occasional break by leaving him at a boarding kennels that was willing to work with us and keep him in a separate kennel block to their other charges.

I think it's not a case of you needing to be firmer - more you need to find a way to reduce your own anxiety around Jas's behaviour. I know, that's not an easy thing to do, but if necessary - take a training break and just enjoy Jas around your home and garden for a while. Lots of training and fun to keep him busy, without the stress of worrying about how he's going to react if another dog suddenly appears. I know you'll probably worry about him not getting his walks and freedom etc, but you have to remember that, just like our dcs, our dogs need us to be in the best state of mind we can be in, in order for them to take their lead from us. It's not going to be forever, but it might give you some space and ultimately perspective on it all.

Alternatively, if you do feel you have to keep pushing on - please at least have a chat with the two people I suggested - no obligation to go with them, but just see the difference in their attitude and the potential for how they could help.

Unlike others, who have probably never had a fear aggressive dog, I do understand your stress and anxiety and also the love of your boy that makes you determined to move heaven and earth to help him get past it. You're a brave and determined woman for keeping-on working with him and he's lucky to have you. ((have a very unmnetty hug))

Floralnomad Sun 14-Jul-13 16:40:31

Dont stress just give Jas a cuddle and move on. x

idirdog Sun 14-Jul-13 16:40:09

Chickens the reason you are feeling confused is that you know that the methods this trainer used are wrong, Your gut feeling is telling you this. However you saw a change in Jas's behaviour so this is giving you a mega contradiction.

Look at an extreme. Electric shock collars will work - they will stop a dogs behaviour BUT you will always see another usually worse behaviour appear. It does stop a dog from doing behaviour 1 but they will still feel the emotion and this will appear in another behaviour.

So today Jas learnt very quickly that he had to do what this lady told him, she made him feel very anxious but being a clever lad he realised the way to stop her hurting him was to do what she ordered. Over time Jas's anxiety would increase and he would have to release this some how, maybe extreme case biting her (this again would prove her methods are right as he is aggressive), or more likely from how you have described Jas shutting down and only doing anything when he is forced. The punishment type training means that the punishment would have to increase for him to do as he is asked.

If slip leads are the answer why do people use check collars, if check collars are the answer why do people use prong collars.

Today Jas worked out the solution to a new uncomfortable environment very quickly was to comply - in the long term this will not work.

Below is a press release from PPG as to why they do not use aversives:-

There are several reasons why we are strongly against aversive methods or tools - one of which is that it is simply unkind, and damaging to the relationship with your dog, to use fear or pain or discomfort to get him to do what you want. More importantly perhaps, aversive methods produce very unpredictable results - you don't know before you try them how your dog will react. Maybe a spray collar will stop him barking - but maybe it will make him fearful of things that make a similar sound - maybe it will cause him to redirect his frustration as aggression toward someone or some other dog stood near him - maybe it will cause him to be fearful and then aggressive toward whatever he was barking at! Finally - using aversives in training means you are much less likely to be thinking about WHY your dog is doing something. The use of aversives is focused on removing or stopping a behaviour, but that behaviour WILL be a symptom of something else, and if you don't treat the symptom, or the root cause of a behaviour, it WILL pop out somewhere else. For example, the dog who was chewing up the carpet when left, now doesn't chew the carpet because it has anti-chew spray on it. Now he chews the sofa, or the table legs - if you cover all those things, maybe he starts to howl or bark instead - because the chewing was a symptom of anxiety, and that anxiety over being left alone hasn't gone away! Hopefully you can now see why we don't allow people to recommend aversives, and why we are pro positive force free training.

Thanks for everyone's advice. It's been a rotten day. I've given money to someone who frightened and hit my dog. I feel lousy. So I'm going to go and haunt other areas of MN and try to stop fixating x

IfancyMontyDon Sun 14-Jul-13 16:22:23

Hello Chickens, You seem to be getting into a state for no good reason. Are you expecting your dog to be perfect? Because that aint gonna happen ever. Perhaps you need to do some relaxation classes rather than dog classes. Or ditch the dog if you cannot cope with the stress.

Floralnomad Sun 14-Jul-13 15:57:41

With respect chickens you didn't go to this trainer because Jas is badly behaved on his lead so I wouldn't get too hung up on that . As I've said before I respect you for trying to improve your boy but I think you need to take a step back and stop worrying so much . Your dog has never bitten a dog ,if other dogs leave him alone he doesn't go for them ,to a degree that makes it other people's responsibility to remove their dog if it is pestering yours . If you feel you need to be firmer then do that but otherwise relax and enjoy, surely pets are supposed to enhance our lives not cause us stress.

Do you know, raising a dog is worse than raising a child. There are so many different opinions, you're always doing wrong for doing right. I am struggling to achieve the basics using gentle, kind methods. I am clearly fucking it up somewhere. It's so frustrating. Jerking the lead and smacking feel wrong, yet there she was with her years of experience and calm authority and there was my dog, walking nicely to heel and playing nicely with the dreaded labs. Tbh I feel like proper shite about it, and am I fuck going to eat a biscuit before I feed him <furious with self for allowing it all to happen, confused and teary>

idirdog Sun 14-Jul-13 15:44:17

All that would of been happening with the behavourist is that Jaz did not pick up on any anxiety.

Since you have seen that his behaviour changed when you went out with him today you were more confident - nothing to do with the slip lead etc just you in a different attitude.

Her dogs were socialised dogs who were used to reading dogs body language due to meeting many dogs and gave the correct body language to Jaz. Hence he was more relaxed.

Slip leads are horrendous if used to jerk and control the dog.

Lilcamper Sun 14-Jul-13 15:29:22

Slip leads can damage things in the delicate neck area. Have a look at one of these instead perfect fit harness with a front D ring they are very effective with a dog that pulls and have also been designed to be calming.

I hated her methods, I really did, but I can see that I need to be firmer with my dog on boundaries etc. I'm a big softy, and I've babied him too much. His behaviour is entirely down to his lack of consistent training. I just took him down to the pet shop, walking to heel (without the jerking, but stop/starting) and we met a springer in there. Instead of instantly going stiff and anxious, he wagged his tail and looked interested. Perhaps he felt more secure because I was in control of the lead? He's always danced about on the lead, anxiously looking/sniffing everywhere.

Can a slip lead be used without the jerk and release bit as a tool to train heel work? I've seen a lot of people with labs and spaniels using them to walk through the woods etc.

moosemama Sun 14-Jul-13 14:20:50

Chickens So sorry the behaviourist was so awful. sad

Have a look back at the people I suggested and linked to the youtube video of on your other thread. They are totally positive and all about canine communication - no harsh or punitive methods. You will need to travel to see them, but they come really highly recommended.

Alternatively, Jim Greenwood what that man doesn't know about dog behaviour isn't worth knowing - again, all positive and about understanding the dog's motivations etc and he will visit you at home.

Lilcamper Sun 14-Jul-13 12:41:43



Lilcamper Sun 14-Jul-13 12:36:37

Awful, just awful. Slip leads, pet corrector spray and smacking his bum are just abuse, not training. This could actually cause him to either shut down or redirect his issues elsewhere. Walk, no actually, run away from this 'behaviourist' and find someone APBC or PPG before she wrecks any trust your dog has in you.

I'm n the midlands, DIddled.

You think? I can't find any other socialisation classes for grown dogs sad My puppy trainer runs obedience classes, but not for dogs with issues.

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