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"He Shouldn't BE Like That!" or... "Strangers Know Best."


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Just another rant. We do run into some doozies, don't we?

 

There's a guy, George, who walks a big hound mix at the local reservoir. Early on, my dog Buddy and his dog Becky had a tense meeting, which erupted into a fight. A day later, I found a hole through my dog's ear. No harm, no foul, because technically my dog (and his reactivity) started the fight. George, the dog-walker (I don't think he owns the dog) is a bit off-center; clearly he's getting social security or something and doesn't have a job. He's odd, perhaps has a diagnosis of mild bipolar disorder or something similar, but generally harmless. So, occasionally, if we meet, I do dog small-talk and have Buddy do a calm sit near the guy and the dog, so he can experience the calmness near an adversary. Once in a while, if we're moving the same direction, I'll let Buddy off leash so the dogs can walk near each other.

 

Except, last time I did that, George went on a bit of a tear, ranting about his therapist and his mental issues. So I try not to walk the same direction as him anymore.

 

Tonight, we're all about to meet face to face, which is a tense situation for Buddy. We both leash our dogs and I prepare for the random small talk. Buddy moves to the end of his leash and pretends to be reeeeeeally interested in sniffing some grass, over and over. So the guy, George, says, "He shouldn't BE like that. Have you ever done any dog training classes or anything?" I say, "Yes, I've done a lot of training. He's come a long way." (Time was when the mere sight of another dog sent Buddy into a reactive-aggressive behavior.)

 

The guy gives me some lines about how he's worked with his dog, and how she can play with other dogs now. I say, "Buddy's fine with 90% of the dogs we meet. But right now he's sending body language signals that he doesn't want to interact with Becky." To which the guy says, "That's when you have to DO something! Make him meet her!" I say, "I disagree." The guy starts telling me how I'm wrong, and I say, loudly, "Well, everyone has their OWN OPINION," and begin walking away. As I'm walking, the guy is literally YELLING after me... "WHat I WOULD DO is bleah bleah bleah bleah."

 

Grrrrrr.

 

Why do other people feel they have more insight and knowledge of MY dog's behavior than I do?!? Thank you very much, I've read every book there is on reactive dogs, have sought the help of a couple well-qualified behaviorists, and have a solid, specific reason for every move I make with my dog.

 

Mary

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Mary,

you know what they say opinions are like a$$holes, we all have one. LOL. That's why so many people post their different ways of training on these boards. I get a lot of useful information from some and some I disregard. I can relate to the man, as when I take my meds, I should go directly to bed- do NOT pass go and do not post- that be a given from my post last night.

I'm wondering if Buddy sensed YOUR tension in encountering George? They say that your feelings go directly down to the leash and I believe that. Dogs are great masters of our emotions.

 

Of COURSE you know your dog more than anyone else does!!! Maybe George was just trying to help in his "strange way". I was told by quite a few people, including my obedience trainer, that Usher was too much dog for me. Now, he is a lovely dog and people that saw him as a young pup think I switched him. :rolleyes:

 

If George upsets you ( or his dog does ) I would simply cross the street, or path and/or just say hi and be on my way. I hope this helps. Or maybe I should just hang out with George- LOL.

Dianne

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Why do other people feel they have more insight and knowledge of MY dog's behavior than I do?!? Thank you very much, I've read every book there is on reactive dogs, have sought the help of a couple well-qualified behaviorists, and have a solid, specific reason for every move I make with my dog.

 

I run into that, too!

 

Did you know that I cause Dean to be noise phobic because I expect him to be? I was told this by a trainer who was a fellow student in class with us last winter. Apparently she knows much more about him than I do. Of course, that doesn't explain how he got to be noise phobic to begin with since I've never had a noise phobic dog before and I certainly didn't expect him to be until it happened, but that's apparently neither here nor there! It's all because I expect it to happen, you see.

 

Furthermore, if I would just have a big enough party, he will simply get over his noise phobia. I get this from several people. So, that's it - it's all because I don't throw proper parties when there are loud noises. It has nothing to do with a chemical reaction in his brain causing a strong fear response on a biochemical level. It's all because of me and my apparently inadequate parties. All righty then.

 

Like you, I've done a lot of study on reactivity and fear and I know my dogs. I have very specific reasons for the decisions that I make for my dogs. I often do things quite differently from the mainstream - especially with Speedy whose brain is simply not normal. Those who have known us for a long time and have seen over and over that what I am doing with him works don't even notice anymore, but in new situations I get a lot of unsolicited comments.

 

I can definitely relate.

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So, that's it - it's all because I don't throw proper parties when there are loud noises.

 

LOL. Geez don't you know you are suppose to always have streamers and a bottle of champagne ready? You aren't one of those people who consults their vet are you? At least tell me your Dean has a proper center peice by his place setting! :rolleyes:

 

I feel your pain. We have gotten a lot of unsolicited advice for Ceana's fear and aggression issues. "You're letting her push you around, get in her face and show her who is boss." Um I like my face and if I do that Ceana will rearrange it. In addition screaming in the face of a terrified dog does nothing to control the situation... thus you would get the impromptu plastic surgery by teeth.

 

I normally ignore people when they give ***unsolicited*** advice, but for those that don't quit I have one responce. "If your advice is so valuable why aren't I paying for it." Now for the people who approach me nicely and share some of their knowledge in an un nosey non condesending way I thank them and listen intently. It always seemed funny and oddly amusing when people with no social skills "seem" to know all about tact and social skills with dogs.

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Did you know that I cause Dean to be noise phobic because I expect him to be? I was told this by a trainer who was a fellow student in class with us last winter. Apparently she knows much more about him than I do. Of course, that doesn't explain how he got to be noise phobic to begin with since I've never had a noise phobic dog before and I certainly didn't expect him to be until it happened, but that's apparently neither here nor there! It's all because I expect it to happen, you see.

 

Oh, yes, that's one of my favorite explanations, too - always from strangers.

 

People who knew me when I brought my dog home, and have seen his progress, say, "That dog has come such a long way," or, "Look how calm he is now," or "He's getting so good with other dogs!"

 

On the other hand, people who have never seen Buddy in his reactive behavior seem to invariably imply (or say outright) that somehow it's my expectation that makes him reactive. ::Sigh:: Obviously, I've learned to be cautious of his reactivity BECAUSE HE'S REACTIVE!

 

When he was a stranger to me, I treated Buddy with happy ignorance, putting him in lots of situations that exceeded his fear-threshold. Only after lots and lots of unhappy, growling, cringing, shivering surprises did I learn that I needed to change my behavior to better manage his. And now, as he progresses, I learn which situations are no longer scary to him, and I drop my caution because it's no longer needed. (People coming close? Fine. Bikers zooming by? Fine.) I'm certain that Buddy dropped his reactivity to these things a long time before I dropped my caution... and yet he's still rock-solid fine in situations that used to cause a melt-down.

 

Mary

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I get the feeling quite often that people feel guilty regarding something about their dog when someone points out what they think is a problem or attempts to pass along advice on what to do about what they think is a problem. George is clearly off center and Dean's party animal advice is right out there with George. Things are often pointed out to me about my dogs strange behaviors and I am often given advice. I have yet to run into a person on the street who knew anything about my dogs but because they own a dog they are an expert. When people wish to meet my dogs I try to explain what they are, who they are and what they do. That always seems to open the door for some strange response and it is usually about some urban myth about border collies. For example, after explaining to a gentleman one time that I train herding dogs he proceeded to tell me what was wrong with that. Some of the things he was saying were so far out there with George that I had to listen. If you train your dog for herding they will attack children. If you train your dog for herding they will kill other animals and so on. I am sure you have heard it all before. I have even met so called qualified trainers who were out there with George, I have explained some of my encounters on this forum. I mostly just ignore the garbage but I am beginning to think that there is a book in the making here. Perhaps I should start taking notes. I am not so sure what I would call it. Perhaps Dog Advice From Road, a collection of training tips from the crazy. We are having fun now.

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I feel your pain. We have gotten a lot of unsolicited advice for Ceana's fear and aggression issues. "You're letting her push you around, get in her face and show her who is boss."

 

Oh yes! I forgot about that one!

 

Speedy, you see, developed a fear of German Shepherds a few years ago to manipulate me. Apparently I didn't ignore him hard enough when he displayed fear and it became a full blown phobia because I didn't show him I was boss. Whoda thunk it?

 

Odd that after I discovered that he was suffering physical pain from bursitis in his shoulder, the phobia completely disappeared once he was treated and felt better, but obviously I learned to ignore him better and that was the reason why the situation resolved itself. :rolleyes:

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Obviously, I've learned to be cautious of his reactivity BECAUSE HE'S REACTIVE!

 

When he was a stranger to me, I treated Buddy with happy ignorance, putting him in lots of situations that exceeded his fear-threshold. Only after lots and lots of unhappy, growling, cringing, shivering surprises did I learn that I needed to change my behavior to better manage his. And now, as he progresses, I learn which situations are no longer scary to him, and I drop my caution because it's no longer needed. (People coming close? Fine. Bikers zooming by? Fine.) I'm certain that Buddy dropped his reactivity to these things a long time before I dropped my caution... and yet he's still rock-solid fine in situations that used to cause a melt-down.

 

I know what you mean here, too!

 

According to this theory, both Speedy and Dean should have all of the exact same fear issues!!

 

When Speedy is in class and dogs get too close to him or they get barky to excess, I inwardly cringe for a split second before starting up LAT. It's just my gut human emotional response to the fact that I know darn well that this can be a trigger for him.

 

When Dean is in class and ring gates crash to the ground, I inwardly cringe for a second before handling the situation accordingly. Again, my gut emotional response to the knowledge that I have about this dog.

 

Well, auto pilot kicks in and sometimes I inwardly cringe when dogs get close to Dean (which is no issue for him) or get barky to excess (which doesn't phase him) or I inwardly cringe when I have Speedy and ring gates crash to the ground (he couldn't care less about crashing gates as long as they don't fall on top of him!).

 

According to the "It's your expectation that causes it" theory, Dean should have developed a fear of dogs near him and excessively barky dogs, and Speedy should now be severely noise phobic.

 

Hasn't happened. They both enjoy the freebie clicks and treats that I accidentally give one or the other for the other dog's issue, but neither take any notice of my momentary inward emotional reaction.

 

It's really interesting. I'm not saying that our dogs aren't influenced by our emotions - they absolutely are in some ways and circumstances - but the idea that fears and phobias and reactivity are caused by the expectations of the handler is one of the biggest misconceptions I run into.

 

When we met Speedy, he ran right up to us and capered and played and was definitely the "Me, me, me, pick me!" puppy - both with us and with our dog, Sammie! We fully expected, based on that meeting, for him to be an outgoing, happy go lucky dog. When we got him home and discovered that he was extremely shy of strangers and dogs, we were very surprised and, like you with Buddy, we put him in a lot of situations that exceeded his threshold! If flooding was going to work with him, it would have in the busy coal town where he grew up! It turns out that the fact that I didn't do anything to help him with his problem for the first year of his life didn't do him any favors, but that is what it is because I simply didn't know what to do yet.

 

I suppose it makes sense that people have the idea that reactivity and fear are caused by the owner/handler. I really did think that I had caused Speedy's issues for a long time when his reactivity spiraled out of control when he was about two years old. It took a good bit of experience with him and study before it finally really became clear to me that he is what he is because of his own brain chemistry and not because of me. When I finally understood that and started to work with him with that in mind, he began to make the progress that got him where he is today.

 

When he passes for normal it means more to me than all of his ribbons and medals on the wall!! But most people don't know that anything of any significance is even happening! His apparent normalcy is a result of the coping skills that he has learned, not because I simply expect it.

 

I try to remember that as I try to learn to help Dean with the noise issues. It certainly is a long process.

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I mostly just ignore the garbage but I am beginning to think that there is a book in the making here. Perhaps I should start taking notes. I am not so sure what I would call it. Perhaps Dog Advice From Road, a collection of training tips from the crazy.

 

We are having fun now.

 

LOL!!! Sounds kind of fun! I'm thinking it might sell . . . hmmmmmm . . . :rolleyes::D :D

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It's really interesting. I'm not saying that our dogs aren't influenced by our emotions - they absolutely are in some ways and circumstances - but the idea that fears and phobias and reactivity are caused by the expectations of the handler is one of the biggest misconceptions I run into.

 

Absolutely! If I see a big Rottie coming down the path, I put the leash on. The dogs can do a brief sniff without Buddy going over the edge, and I often pull back on the leash just when I sense he's reaching his threshold (tightened commissure, stiffening of his back, whale eyes). My little tug often does signal to Buddy that it's time to go reactive, and I'll cause a snarl or something right when I tighten my tension on the leash. I accept that I contribute to that reaction.

 

BUT... The alternative is for me to pretend I'm ignorant, let the dogs meet off-leash, and run the risk that Buddy will snarl to drive off a dog who will then choose "fight back" rather than "back off". It's happened several times, and Buddy's come out slightly wounded twice. I'd much rather leash Buddy and perhaps bring on a little snarl than play dumb and risk setting up behavior that can cause serious regression for my dog - not to mention the potential problems that could be set up for the OTHER dog!

 

When he passes for normal it means more to me than all of his ribbons and medals on the wall!!

 

I absolutely hear you! People don't understand that I'm winning the championship just walking my happy, loose-postured dog down the street. :rolleyes:

 

Mary

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I get the feeling quite often that people feel guilty regarding something about their dog when someone points out what they think is a problem or attempts to pass along advice on what to do about what they think is a problem.

 

You're right. It does make you question yourself! I guess it's one of those situations where you know what you should have said after you've had time to process it... and then you stew about the fact that you couldn't express yourself coherently!

 

I am not so sure what I would call it. Perhaps Dog Advice From Road, a collection of training tips from the crazy. We are having fun now.

 

Oh, I'd love to contribute to that book! Though maybe you should just call it, "Dog Advice from Lunatics," so the average bookstore browser can know immediately what you're talking about! :rolleyes:

 

Somewhere in here there's a post from last summer, about the crazy woman I met who was sticking her face closer and closer to my dog AS HE WAS GROWLING AT HER. She was my favorite purveyor of dog advice. Told me I shouldn't bribe the dogs with treats, that I needed to show dominance, and that I should watch "The Dog Whisperer." ('Cuz... um... Cesar so often advocates approaching strange, fearful dogs and sticking your face in theirs as they are growling at you?)

 

Mary, feeling much soothed by fellow reactive-dog-understanders...

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Y'all should have dogs and horses, then you'd get a double whammy of Advice From the Lunatic Fringe. Cause believe me when I tell you, anybody who ever watched a Gunsmoke re-reun knows how to ride/train/manage a horse. Better than you do.

 

Here in the South, the way one deals with that is to keep silent for a looong moment, then smile sweetly and say "Well, bless your heart." Among Southern ladies, this is code for ----well, another expression altogether :rolleyes: . Other Southern ladies understand immediately and back off. But even when we find ourselves having to say it to people from other cultures, we know what we actually mean to say and it makes us feel much better. :D

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I feel everyone's pain! I love advice (particularly bc advise), but...sometimes unknowing strangers go too far!

 

This is my first posting- so forgive me if I somehow screw this up! I just got my first border collie (Gemma), and I absolutely adore her. She's almost five months old. On a sidenote - I'm very grateful that everyone has put so much effort into posting thoughtful (and helpful) questions and responses. This board was very helpful in my decision to get a border collie- and the great tips helped prepare me for early training. Anyway, THANKS everyone- and... on with my posting!

 

I took Gemma to a different park this weekend for a change of scenery and at the end of our walk, I let her stop to watch some people playing tenis. She was really into watching- she had her whole "herding/working" pose going on. A woman standing near the courts with her dog asked me if my dog was friendly. I said, "Yes, but she's shy around some dogs." She let her dog over near mine; her dog was yanking at the leash- desperately trying to get at my dog. Gemma was kind of freaked out by this and ran between my legs. She's sort of funny about other dogs- she seems to like little fluffy dogs a lot....but she's often timid with super-extroverted "play with me" dogs (she's definitely not a fan of labs!) I let her go at her own pace when it comes to meeting other dogs-I know she's not afraid of all other dogs, because she's famously gotten along with a few that we've met. I like to think that she has discriminating tastes!

 

Anyway.... Gemma returned to watching the ongoing tennis games .... and this woman actually asked me if my dog had been abused because Gemma wasn't interested in playing with her dog! If this wasn't enough.... she then pointed out that her tail was down- yet another sign that she'd been abused as a puppy! To me... it wasn't a big surprise that her tail was down - she was fixated on the tennis balls flying across the courts. I briefly explained that w/ bcs... tail-down doesn't always mean scared... but I was so shocked that she'd just suggested that Gemma had been abused just because she didn't want to play with her dog! The woman proceeded to give me tips on socializing her. If it'd been up to this woman - I think she would have locked my puppy in a small room with 20 large hyper dogs and no escape to "socialize" her. I decided to politely say goodbye and take my never-been-abused-but-still-not-a-fan-of-overenthusiastic-dogs bc and go on our merry way!

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I mostly just ignore the garbage but I am beginning to think that there is a book in the making here. Perhaps I should start taking notes. I am not so sure what I would call it. Perhaps Dog Advice From Road, a collection of training tips from the crazy.
LOL!!! Sounds kind of fun! I'm thinking it might sell . . . hmmmmmm

 

I think that's already been done....JOHN KATZ beat you to it

 

I find it much easier to play dumb let the person ramble, thank them humbly and walk away. Shine 'um on.

 

Now can you invite us to the party for thunder phobic dogs, just please don't have it on a thundery day or sadly enough we won't be there.

 

K~

edited cause I didn't read this before posting

Here in the South, the way one deals with that is to keep silent for a looong moment, then smile sweetly and say "Well, bless your heart." Among Southern ladies, this is code for ----well, another expression altogether

 

I've lived down here long enough for people to stop asking me "you aren't from round here are ya?" that I got the accent down. The above "Well, bless your heart" will be my saying from now on. :rolleyes::D

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Here in the South, the way one deals with that is to keep silent for a looong moment, then smile sweetly and say "Well, bless your heart." Among Southern ladies, this is code for ----well, another expression altogether :rolleyes: . Other Southern ladies understand immediately and back off. But even when we find ourselves having to say it to people from other cultures, we know what we actually mean to say and it makes us feel much better. :D

 

Lolol....I once had a lady tell me all about border collies and how I shouldn't breed my blue merle bc to my blue merle sheltie...nevermind that they are both neutered males...bless her heart, I'm sure she thought she was preventing a litter of double merle mixed breeds. No harm though, just one of those people who talk and talk and talk without listening to what the other person is saying.

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I've lived down here long enough for people to stop asking me "you aren't from round here are ya?" that I got the accent down. The above "Well, bless your heart" will be my saying from now on. :rolleyes::D

 

* Sigh * I simply couldn't pull it off.

 

Now can you invite us to the party for thunder phobic dogs, just please don't have it on a thundery day or sadly enough we won't be there.

 

Thunder phobic Border Collie party at Dean Dog's house! WoooooooooHoooooooooooooo!!! We'll have to forego the fireworks display, though. Bummer.

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Strange, when I have my dogs with me, most folks say to me, "Thats a Border Collie" I just say "well Bless your heart!" and walk on.

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