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  1. #1
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Default One-on-One Training in a Two-Dog, One-Mom Household.

    This Morning, the boys brought it to my attention that we might be developing a leadership problem at home. I woke up not feeling well, and two boys not only sensed that I wasn't 100%, they both tried to take advantage.

    I will say that Sebastian is not as wild about the loss of freedom he has experienced with his Freedom Harness. He does not appreciate the fact that it connects both in front and at the shoulders, allowing me to control him better, and he detests that he is now on a shorter lead, and can't deadweight whenever he disagrees with me about which direction we are to go. It has gotten to the point where getting him to stand up and stand still so that I can put the harness on him is sometimes quite the challenge.

    This morning, Sebastian flat-out refused to get up so that I could put his harness on him. Chester, on the other hand, was harnessed and ready to go go go. Chester decided to "help" me get Sebastian up by initiating rough play inside, which is strictly verboten, as we live in a small space with downstairs neighbors. Before I could tell Chester to knock it off, Sebastian leaped up, lunged at Chester, and growled in such a manner that neither Chester not I knew whether or not he was trying to play or meant business. I yelled "Hey!" in my Mom voice, and both dogs stopped dead in their tracks, and looked at me with their Uh-Oh faces.

    Both boys need some individual training starting yesterday. From now on, they are both getting individual walks/training sessions in the evenings when I get home. I am also looking into getting them both into a CGC class this fall. The question is, would it be better for me to try to find a handler for Chester and enroll them in the same class, or should I take them on different days? Will taking them on different days increase their chances of "sibling rivalry", or am I overthinking this entirely? Are there other things I need to think about? Any advice or warnings from people who have done training with two dogs during the same time frame?

    The training needs to happen, I just want to make sure that it doesn't make things worse.
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  2. #2
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by SebastiansMom View Post
    The question is, would it be better for me to try to find a handler for Chester and enroll them in the same class, or should I take them on different days? Will taking them on different days increase their chances of "sibling rivalry", or am I overthinking this entirely?
    Ok, honestly, I don't think having someone else train Chester is going to be helpful, particularly if it's in the same class with you & Sebastian. Chester will spend many classes (if not that entire 8 classes or whatever the session for) simply trying to get to you & Sebastian and not wanting to listen to the new handler. I've seen that in agility when one tries to switch agility handlers. For a few months last year I worked with my friend's papillon to be her handler because her mother did not want to do it anymore. For several months I took her to class myself; her mother was not allowed on the property while I worked with her. When one is working with a dog, it's all about building trust. If the mom is present, the dog usually will not want to be listening to another person. The way I see it is you are the leader of your household, you should be the one training both of them, on different days. The whole sibling rivalry occurs when the leader isn't firmly in place. That's why it's important, at least in my view, that you should be one the one taking charge of each of them to reinforce your place in the household.

    Having said that, however, I know how hard it could be to try to leave one behind when you take the other for class. When Bijou was in her early agility days I had scheduled Bro's and her classes back to back so that I would only have to drive out to the trainer's place once a week. Bijou would go NUTS, and that's no exaggeration, when I would leave her in the car while Bro & I were in class. She would scream, bark, scratch the car (the inside of the car bears many scratch scars, which we now treasure...). I enlisted my husband to sit in the car with her and that did not work at all. She carried on just the same even with him sitting in the car with her. I had to then take them on different nights and left her at home. She still threw a fit when we left but at least she wasn't stressing me out disrupting Bro's class with all that screaming. She eventually learned to accept the fact.

    I don't know how either of the boys would react if you took one and left the other, but I do think if you can do that, they should definitely be trained by you on different nights.

  3. #3
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Antonia's Avatar

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    I don't have Jewel's experience in taking dogs to training facilities but I have no doubt that if I attempted such a thing with Tyro and Ru, it would go exactly as she described. The dog not being handled by me spending all their time trying to get to me. I think given the closeness you have with your boys, you could likely expect the same thing. Do you have any friends that one of the boys could stay with while you are at training with the other that is a fun place for them? Might make their separation from you and brother a little less upsetting.
    I sure know what you mean about them taking advantage when you aren't 100%. Tyro sense this about me every time and comes up with some new and creative attempt at naughty behavior...

  4. #4
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Sr. Antonia, the boys and I hope that your calf muscle is feeling MUCH better soon! Ouch!

    It makes sense to take them to two separate classes. There is a place up in Frisco (about 30 miles from here), that has both a Saturday AND a Sunday class. They also offer classes year-round, so if I didn't want to spend both Saturday and Sunday driving to classes, I could start by taking Chester to a session, then when he's done, take Sebastian. I'm not sure if it would make a difference to have one boy in classes while I work with them both at home. I could have someone come and watch one boy while the other is in class, or I could try taking the non-class-attending boy to day care on class day.

    Jewel, thank you so much!
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  5. #5
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Tsunibear's Avatar

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    Okay no to the handler for sure in my opinion. Training the dog yourself lets you bond with the dog. Missy and I have went through enough training to know that much.

    Next thing, don't worry about taking different classes. I left Monty all the time when Missy went through her first round of training and it gave him some much needed space and my trainer said "All I ask is that you give him the same kind of treat you are giving Missy in class when you get home because, he can smell it on her breath and he needs to know you aren't playing favorites." So after every class Monty got a treat that Missy was getting and he never cared if I left him because, he knew he would be getting something when I came back.

  6. #6
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Thank you, Tsunibear!

    I have definitely nixed the idea of a handler. Sebastian is the one who would be totally fine with one, but finding someone who could actually "handle" him would be next to impossible

    I'll probably start with taking Chester to the class, then take Sebastian to the next session. I will work with them both at home during both sessions. I think Chester needs the confidence boost of the classes before I try to leave him at home (or daycare) without us, and I think Sebastian will need the extra practice before we try to take the test again.
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  7. #7
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Well, the good news is that the behaviorist's exercises are working - for Sebastian, at least...

    There is a woman who moved in over the Summer who has a middle-aged intact male Golden. Naturally, my two hate him. Today, we were walking through one of the hallways in my building, close to the park, when the woman let her Golden out of the park - off leash. The golden charged us. His body language told me that he just wanted to say hello, but Chester wasn't buying it. Chester bit him on the back of the neck. Sebastian remained calm the whole time. The Holden's owner made no attempt to call him to her, nor did she make any attempt to get him away from us after the incident began. She let me handle the whole darn thing. She did not apologize (I did, profusely). The only thing she said was, "Wow. They really don't like each other." I reminded her that the reason that my two don't like her dog is because he's not neutered. Then I reiterated that we were working with a behaviorist to try to lessen their reactivity.

    Chester is not in trouble. He didn't do anything wrong. I would have liked to have seen him respond differently, but I can see how he felt threatened. I'll admit, I panicked a little, because I was expecting Sebastian to hurt the golden. I am grateful that he remained calm. While I definitely could have responded better, the fact of the matter is that none of this would have happened if her dog had been on a leash. Yes, he is a sweet, well-behaved dog, but this behavior (charging at a person walking two leashed dogs, no matter if it was an enthusiastic greeting or otherwise) is unacceptable.

    I am going to make an appointment for Chester to see the behaviorist ASAP, and we are definitely going to CGC class. I need something to prove that they are reasonably well-behaved (and that I am working to correct any unwanted behavior) should this woman decide to complain.
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  8. #8
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Antonia's Avatar

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    SM, Can she make any serious complaint if her dog was off leash and ran at you and the boys? Obviously would be better if Chester had not bitten the Golden but to let your dog be off leash and run up to a single person with two dogs on leash, one of whom is monstrous? Really sounds like the owner needs some CGC classes!

  9. #9
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    She could complain, but I am going to email the office first in order to explain what happened, tell them what steps I am taking to ensure that it doesn't happen again, and ask them to remind everyone that keeping our dogs on leash while on the property (outside of the dog park) was something we all agreed to when we signed our leases. I am leaving nothing to chance in this situation.

    This particular lady has made it well-known that she is a huge follower of Cesar Millan and his techniques. She seems to think that if your dog is exhibiting problematic behavior, you just have someone come over to "Cesar" the dog (her words), and the problem is solved. She doesn't understand that behavior modification training in the real world takes time, patience, and a reasonable amount of cooperation from the people around you. No, I don't expect anyone to go out of their way to accommodate my needs while I'm working with my boys, but it would be nice if they followed the basic rules of the complex so that I can help their dogs stay safe from mine. Now that Chester has reacted to this dog by biting him, I am going to have a much more difficult time getting him to respond to threatening dogs in a way that doesn't involve violence.

    It's just so scary and frustrating.

    Thank you for listening to me vent!
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  10. #10
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    First, did Chester draw blood? Regardless of whether he did or not, was Chester out for blood or was he simply warning that golden for being rude? As in, did you have to drop Sebastian's leash to pull Chester off the golden with all your might because Chester was certain to kill him?

    Next, Sebastian didn't get involved at all?

    Here is how I look at it, if I were to assume that the golden charged and Chester jumped and bit him on the back but it wasn't full out blood rage for the kill, then the whole thing is probably more scary and upsetting to you than anything else. I think you did the right thing by reporting to the complex management exactly what happened, that Chester was on leash and the other dog was not. The only thing you can do is to continue to work with Chester as you've already planned to do prior to the incident.

    I know exactly how you feel. I've been in that situation more than once with Bro. He actually did almost the same thing once. This was with my friend's golden. It was at an agility trial and I had Bro on a very short 3 ft leash. The leash was slack as Bro was standing quietly right next to me. I was watching the ring and then suddenly there was a growl and I saw Bro jump and bite the golden on the back of the neck, though no blood was drawn. I didn't see what happened but I know for sure that my friend had let her dog come literally right on top of us because Bro did not have to pull on the very short leash in order to make contact with the golden's neck. I didn't hear Bro give a warning growl so it was quite possible that Bro hadn't seen the golden coming and was surprised to suddenly find a big dog right next to him and reacted. Bro was not out for blood, he was giving warning that he needed personal space. But because it was my dog that aggressed, I did all the apologizing (even though she really shouldn't have let her dog get that close to us). I could have been reported to the AKC and Bro could have been written up and kicked out of AKC events. But my friend was cool about it. She told me she was aware of Bro's need for personal space (she and another one of her goldens were in the same agility class with me & Bro) but she forgot.

    As you work more with Chester, you will become more accustomed to reading him and by and by you will become more comfortable with your ability to handle him in situations and you will become more relaxed in time. I am not saying it's going to be a quick smooth easy road, but with help from professionals and determined work, I am sure you will see improvements along the way. The fact that Sebastian did not react is awesome and should be a big confidence booster for you!!!

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