View Full Version : Not our Best Class Last Night

04-05-2011, 06:45 AM
The first class Bear was doing great. He did good for me at home, but would not follow my husband's direction at all. We go to class last night and I have to admit the weather was not optimal so my hubbie thinks that was part of the issue. The wind was howling and gates were banging shut and open, etc. I know that was a lot of distraction for a young dog, but Bear pretty much refused to do almost anything.

I will have to say that we had more aggressive dogs join the class last night. The one from the other night stationed herself right at the gate and it was difficult getting in around that dog. My husband went out to get a lady a jacket from the truck because the temps fell rapidly and she was in shorts and when he came back that dog lunged at him, teeth bared. Now there is another rescue joining the group and he not only is aggressive, but he's always lunging, growling and leaping on his leash almost the entire time. If another dog goes near him he goes biserk. Now the third aggressive dog (all these are full grown dogs) managed to get loose from his owner and immediately came and jumped on Bear. We looked to see if the dog had broke skin, but couldn't see anything obvious, but the dog had a huge mouthful of white hair. The trainer was able to catch the dog and pull him off. I'm thinking those distractions also didn't help with the concentration. I'm not sure if maybe we should try a puppy class.

The owner of the dog that got loose and jumped on Bear can barely keep the leash in her hand and the other new one is in a constant uproar. We moved as far to the side of the ring as possible and have positioned ourself next to the older lady with the Shepherd Husky Mix who is a couple weeks younger than Bear. The only problem with this is the two of them want to play together and the older lady is having trouble controlling her. It looks like a big gust of wind would blow her away. Afer she borrowed my husband's jacket and I was helping her to hold the pup so she could take it off, I saw her arms. Her pup is mangling her arms with his mouthing, so I offered the peanut butter trick that yall told me about. For her sake I hope it works.

I have my handouts and we will work with Bear at home this week. Our new objective is "Down". We can choose our own command. So far we do Sit, Stay, OK (his release from the sit and stay), Drop (to release a toy), Look (to get his attention), Let's Go (to begin walking). I want to keep our commands short and to the point so not sure I want to use DOWN for a lay down command because I was thinking about using that if he jumps up on you. What would be a good subsitute. If I use Down for lay down, what would be a good short command to stop him if he jumps up. I want everything short and concise so the boy's can learn his commands and we keep it consistent.

Now my next question. What's the best method for getting Bear to lay down. It was not a good experience last night. I tried several things and he just didn't seemt to get the concept. I tried having him sit first and then down. I got on the ground with peanut butter on a pretzel and tried to lure him down. He just does not want to go down. Are there any tricks or advice you can offer. I know he's smart enough to do it. I'm just not smart enough to get him to do it.

He's been a perfect angel in the class with all the other dogs, but last night for some reason when the second class was coming in there was a doberman that he took an instant dislike. The dog approached the fence and while Bear has remained silent during both classes, when that dog came up Bear let out his Big Boy Bark and a low growl in his throat. Everyone in class was shocked and a lot startled. The dog never made any kind of move toward Bear nor did he do anything untoward. Bear just took an instant dislike/distrust and when we had to go by him to get out Bear was not a happy camper.

Pretty much any advice yall can give us on training and different approaches we will be glad to try. I like the lady that is training the class and her dogs show pretty much that she knows her stuff, but she is having her hands full with the addition of these new and even more aggressive dogs. She is spending so much time with those, that she shows us what to do and because Bear and a few of the others are docile and easy to deal with she then tries to work harder with the others. The only thing is we need help as well. Bear is young and stubborn and in a few months he's going to be so big if we don't get him to do what he needs to do now, not sure whether I will have the strength to control him.


Lou Lou
04-05-2011, 07:48 AM
Personally, I think dogs who are markedly dog aggressive or show any form of human aggression (like the one who lunged teeth baring at your hubby) should be in one on one classes. You're putting yourself and your dog in harms way by showing up where there aggressive dogs present and on top of that they have owners who can clearly not handle them. They need to be taught seperate from the rest of the group for safety reasons.

Why did you make the desicion to not put Bear in a puppy class I'm wondering? I think he probably would be better off there. Remember that for a young pup, training classes are also a socialization experience. Being surrounded by dogs much older and aggressive wouldn't be my first choice. If he's constantly surrounded by dogs who are much more aggressive I would think that might amp up a more defensive reaction from him when it comes to other unknown dogs. The dislike of the Dobie could have been a number of things really. Sometimes body language and posturing can be so subtle most people won't see what's really going on.

If this lady has another puppy class going on in the same timeline as yours, I would definitely ask to switch over. Personally, I think it's a bit zany to have that many aggressive dogs congregate in one place and I'm questioning the method a little bit.

04-05-2011, 08:09 AM
The trainer needs to deal with this ASAP. It is not acceptable that agressive dogs are being trained with non-agressive dogs and classes should, idealy, contain no more than 5-6 dogs (the ones I enroll in are more pricey than larger group classes but, at most, contain 4-5 dogs). Like Lou Lou indicated, agressive dogs should be trained in their own class. Heck, our Puppy II class ended right around the time the "Growl" (i.e., agressive dogs) class started and the trainer made sure we all left before the Growl dogs got into the class room for our and our dogs' saftey.

I would see if there are smaller classes available and/or try a puppy class. I saw your other post on the gash and hope Bear is doing ok.

04-05-2011, 08:24 AM
The only puppy class we could find going on right now was Pet Smart and the area is so confined. We won't be taking Bear back until we can find a class strictly for pups. We did find the gash this morning from the other dog jumping on Bear and it was long and deep. I had to leave him at the vet because he has to be sedated, cleaned and stitched up, then he'll go on a course of antibiotics.

I asked when we signed up for this class if it was for pups and they said it was for all ages. What we didn't expect was all these aggressive dogs. Bear may be big and look grown, but he is still a pup. I've got a call in to the trainer and our vet wants the information on the dog.

I hate we didn't find the gash last night and that we continued to make Bear work through the class. Now I feel like a heel. I am very upset. Bear was so unhappy being left at the vet. He tried his best to come to me and I had to leave him. I would have stayed, but one of my grandsons had to be at the hospital for his MRI and I needed to get the other two boys. We have one with a broken arm right now and the second twin has been diagnosed with a mild case of cerebal palsy and they had to put him to sleep for this MRI since he's just four. It just seems like everything is coming all at once. My husband had spinal minigitis. Now Bear is injured. It's all beginning to take it's toll

04-05-2011, 08:55 AM
Kathy- Big hugs to you. It is not your fault. I know you have a lot going on right now and I'm sorry to hear about all the problems your family has been going through. Bear will be fine, don't worry about the gash...Pyrs are so stoic it is really hard to tell when they are injured (plus all that fur doesn't help in spotting an injury). Don't feel like a heel...Bear will be fine and, again, this wasn't your fault. All of us have had moments of feeling bad because we didn't understand how hurt/sick our fur-babies were...it is just really, really hard to tell with a Pyr.

As far as the trainer is concerned, any trainer saying a class is for "all ages" without any other qualifications makes me a little leary. Puppies, with agressive dogs, with older dogs, with excitable dogs = a receipe for disaster. I would think a trainer would know this and make sure he/she did a temperment test for each dog before allowing them in a class with other dogs that may not be compatible but there are a lot of "trainers" out there that are not really trainers. I hope you hear from your trainer soon and get the information you need as well as an explanation from him/her on how, going forward, aggressive dogs will be segregated for the saftey of everyone in their own classes.

I hope your grandsons and your husband feel better soon.

Lou Lou
04-05-2011, 08:57 AM
Oh jeez!! You poor thing! :( That's alot to have going on all at once.

I'm sure Bear will be ok. You can't beat yourself over it. Things happen, no doubt it can be tough to see through those thick coats.

I wanna give you a hug right now! :o Or make you chicken soup! If I could email you chocolate chip cookies I would!

04-05-2011, 09:45 AM
I taught Emma long downs by using a leash, stepping on it so her head could not lift up with the legs, and when she laid quietly she would be rewarded, trying to stand would be ignored ( her word is place, stay place) she can't get up til I say okay go, it took her about an hour to get it (maybe do it while you are at your computer so it can distract you from the flipping out).. it was that and putting a treat in a closed fist on the ground, and when the dog finally flops down to get it, treat him with a good lay down ! ... sorry for the bite, that is why I walk with no one up here now, seems the town is full of aggressive dogs...

04-05-2011, 02:01 PM
Kathy, sorry to hear about that terrible experience last night. Bear ought to recover just fine from his "battle" wound. I agree with your decision to pull Bear out of the class if the reactive dogs remain.

Based on the circumstances, I would just write that whole episode off of Bear's records. There were too many upsetting things going on that would excuse his unwillingness to cooperate. I don't know what you mean by the Petsmart space being "confined". But my thought is that perhaps you do want to put Bear back into class, but with a much younger and happier group of puppies so that he would be able to overcome the bad experience. He was affected enough last night to react to that doberman who apparently didn't make any overt aggressive actions. I really don't think that ought to be his last impression of class for the however long it will take for the training place to have their next puppy class. The puppy classes at Petsmare are not very serious at all - really more for socialization. A much more relaxed class may be what will benefit Bear right now.

As for continuing to practice commands at home (which you should definitely continue to do), I use "Down" for the dog to lie down and use "Off" if the dog jumps up on someone. One trick to help the "Down" along is to sit on the floor and arch your knee up to it creates a triangular space underneath the knee. Use a yummy treat and drag it through underneath the knee so that the dog would have to crawl to get the treat - and, viola, there is your "Down"!

04-05-2011, 03:55 PM
The reason we didn't choose the Petsmart Puppy Class was because how small the area is. They have a small area between two aisles that is set up with a baby fence that is no bigger than the indoor playyard I used when the twins were small. I can stand and reach from one side to the other and it's no more than 10 feet long. There are about ten chairs along the inside of the fencing. Bear is already up to 60 pounds and he would pretty much take up most of the area if he lays downs or walks around. We just couldn't see how he could receive much training in such a confined area.

Update on Bear: We picked him up at 5:00 p.m.. He'd been there since 9 this morning. They had to shave an area on his chest and around his front leg. The larger laceration opened up like a flap - an L shape. It was through the skin and the layer of fat, but had not damaged the muscle. He had a couple of puncture wounds as well and the skin was bruised. The larger wound took six staples to close. They cleaned everything out and he'll be on antibiotics for 10 days and an anti-inflamatory.

As I said we won't be going back to this class, but the vet gave us the name and a reference for a private instructor. What I would like to do is get a refund from this other class since we had only been to one class and the class last night was a bust and now I can pretty much attribute that to the fact that Bear was injured. I still haven't been able to get hold of the trainer. If I get a refund I get it, if not I'll just chalk it up to experience.

Bear did well under his anestesia so now if we can avoid an infection it should all heal up. Thanks everyone for your well wishes.

Update on my grandson. They had to insert the IV twice for the anestesia, but he did well through the procedure. He was a little nauseous and he has a "red mask" all over his face from the IV, but none the worse for wear. I just grilled hamburgers for the boys and took them over. My daughter had a "minor" procedure done after G's MRI. She didn't do as well with her procedure as my grandson did. She's home laying in bed, so I cooked a little something for the boys and the SIL. The life of a mother, grandmother and dog owner.

04-05-2011, 04:12 PM
Glad to hear everyone is home and doing okay for the most part. Hope your daughter will feel much better very soon.

I mentioned Petsmart because I think it may be important for Bear to be able to get right back to socializing with nice happy dogs. But I've honestly never heard of such a small area to work in. It is not unusual at all for a pup to become reactive to dogs after having been attacked by another dog. A private trainer is good for the one on one attention, but you will lack the socialization aspect. I am particularly sensitive to this issue because I have a reactive dog that I've worked for years to mellow out, it is not a fun thing to have to do.

edit to add: Kathy, you deserve a nice glass of wine or perhaps something stronger!

04-05-2011, 04:34 PM
I'm so glad that everyone is home and safe. Poor Bear. I know he'll be just fine - Maya recovered from her bite much faster than I did.

I'll second Jewel's concern about the socialization. We spent a lot of time helping Maya through the initial reactiveness after her bite. I know you'll do what's best for Bear.

Hope everyone heals up fast and easy.

04-05-2011, 04:48 PM
Kathy- Hang in there and I strongly "second" that you deserve a glass of wine or two...or three. ;)

You should be able to get a refund I would think...if not, I would call the BBB and report the trainer (if you have something like Yelp to review the class I would do so as well). Are those your only two training class options (the place you were going to and Petsmart)? If so, maybe the private trainer has a few dogs of his/her own (usually dog trainers do) or can get a socialization class with a few dogs the dog trainer works with so Bear can be further socialized with strange dogs.

I'm glad everyone is home.

04-05-2011, 04:50 PM
There's a dog park near our beach house where we could take Bear, but after this episode I have to admit I'm now leary of having him around strange dogs. We may do the Petsmart thing just to get him around other pups even though I don't think he could learn very much in such a small enclosure. I don't want him traumatized by this. I know I was pretty much traumatized and totally shocked. Everyone has been so kind with the well wishes. I have to admit I cried at the vets office when I picked Bear up. I know they must think I am such a wuss, but I think it was just a culmination of all that was going on with our grandson, our daughter and Bear, and such a relief that he was okay.

04-05-2011, 06:25 PM
Dogs live in the moment, you will hold a grudge more then he, dogs tell eachother off tons of times, and are playing again minutes later.. as for the Dobie, maybe he was walking with tude, a dog has the ability to look at another dog a certain way, like we give dirty looks, and it is enough to set another dog off :P Vinny did it all the time, he was a troublemaker...
I would have to say, is the class important to you? I believe that if you are in a class full of unlevel dogs that it is a lot harder for a dog to be level and ready to learn, he is more laible to get worked up with the aggression you are seeing there, maybe playdates? With more mature dogs and if you have been having good results in a dog park, use that as a distraction area to tune up his skills?

Lou Lou
04-05-2011, 07:21 PM
I gotta say that I'm in total agreement with Jewel here, from the vino to everything else!

I don't know about the dog parks.. I'm not a fan for the reason that any joe blow and their dog can come in. In our park I tend to see alot of over-excited, under-exercised and frustrated dogs and one bad apple can really ruin the whole bushel.

Maybe with the nice spring weather Petsmart will move the class outdoors? I'm sure they'll do something to accomodate your big boy. And I think it would be really helpful to get him around playful silly puppies rather than have him in a class with more serious adult dogs. You will probably feel more comfortable too with the pups. I always tell my fiance, "If you're tense it will travel down the leash." He gets nervous sometimes with Ralph around other dogs. So a pup class will probably give you some piece of mind.

So pour yourself a big glass of vino, get yourself into a hot bubble bath and have yourself a good cry! I know it always makes me feel better. :o

04-05-2011, 08:16 PM
Of course you cried when you picked Bear up! He's hurt poor thing. I cried when Maya got bit too, and I didn't have all of the other things going on that you do right now.

Be good to yourself; a good drink, a good bath, a good cry - whatever helps you is going to help all of your family in the long run. Big cyber hugs coming your way from me.

04-05-2011, 08:33 PM
Yeah I would definitely get a refund on that class because that should have never happened.

Both of my dogs went through training at Petsmart our training area from the sounds of it though is larger then yours. Now one of my dogs had a bad experience there but, that wasn't due to any of the other dogs in the class it was because I didn't pick the right trainer for the dog. I picked a friend instead of the trainer that I knew would be right for him. That trainer no longer works for the company because oddly enough Petsmart does take training seriously. If you don't like the results of the class you can either get a refund or you can re-take the class until you are happy. I watched one lady take the same class three times and still wasn't happy so she got all of her money back.

Now Missy's trainer the one Monty should have went to was amazing. She understood the dogs and if there was an aggressive dog in our class she would either move that dog to a different class or watch that dog closely and make sure it never made contact with the other dogs.

It is my believe that adult dogs and puppies shouldn't be in the same class only because they learn differently. Missy went through later on in her life and Monty went through it all at a younger time and it shows. Missy is still learning as Monty has it down pat because it was hard wired into his head.

I do agree with everyone else you deserve a glass of wine and some you time that is for sure. I am glad to hear that Bear is okay and that your Grandson's MRI went well. I do hope everyone gets better soon though.