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Since many of you do a lot of things with your dogs, I'm hoping you might be able to help me out. I will be attending "Clicker Expo" in Cleveland in March and I need to determine whether I will be bringing Maggie. The event is 3 days of seminars and working labs and generally about 1/3 of the people attending (several hundred registered so far) bring dogs to work with in the labs. The event is held at the Hilton in Cleveland - I don't know about seminars, but the labs have room for 60 people and 30 dogs.

 

Maggie has passed her CGC and is heading into her 5th year as a Delta Society Pet Partner therapy dog. She is generally good with all sorts of people and environments. I've taken her to various seminars, including a week-long TTouch seminar, and she competes a few times a year at midsize agility shows (think about 250 people and 100 dogs over the weekend).

 

The only signs of stress I've seen at seminars and trials is a slight increase in "velcro" behavior and a more serious "working" mindset (i.e. not as likely to solicit attention from other people, lower tail, settles very quickly when asked, etc.). Maggie does well in hotels, but would need to be crated in my car when I go to events sans dog since she tends to bark; the majority of the time she'd be with me though.

 

I've had Maggie for the past 7 years and we've worked extensively on all sorts of things together (sports, herding, tricks, socialization/therapy work, etc.) - I know her and her behavior well. I'm confident that I could handle her for 3 days in such a manner that she is not overly stressed and that both she and I get our needed exercise and time away from the crowds.

 

Now for the twist: Maggie was undersocialized as a pup, and as such has come a looong way from where she was 7 years ago. The only real vestige of her rough start is a slight nervousness around other dogs, especially those that enjoy sniffing, barking at her, or head on approaches. In high stress settings, she feels most at ease with dogs 3 to 4 feet away; in a more relaxed environment and with canine friends, close proximity is fine and play may be solicited with friends. When pushed, Maggie tends to warn with a hard glance and growling, she may air snap when her comfort zone is breached significantly. This behavior only manifests with other dogs, and I am able to manage it quite well, but as they say "management always fails" and sometimes I must pull her back and remove her from a situation. She has learned how to greet appropriately on leash, but I avoid doing this given the unknown training level of most dogs we may meet. Maggie also is able to work reliably offlead near other dogs in agility class, even when she is being barked at. The "rules" for the event clearly state that all dogs should be ok in close proximity to other dogs and if they display aggressive or unruly behavior, you may be asked to remove them from the room.

 

So here's my quandary: Should I take Maggie to Clicker Expo so she and I can work together in labs and I can immediately apply things we've learned, which is how I learn best, or should I leave her at home and go by myself? On the one hand, this would be a great place to take her given all the opportunities available for skill improvement and learning, but on the other hand it does open her up to stress and means that I may have to curtail my activities to meet her needs.

 

Thoughts? Suggestions? Experiences you can share?

 

I know the decision is up to me ultimately, but I don't want to regret my decision later because I went into it w/o all the info I could get.

 

Thanks!

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I would do, in one hand I think that you will regret no taking her when you see all the other people with their dogs. Yes, you'll have to take care of her and courtail your activities, but being with your best friend that will don't matter as much as you could think.

 

On the other hand, stress is not necesarily something bad (there is pathological stress, chronical stress, anguish disorders... but that's not what I'm talking about). All of us have to deal with stress, humans, pets and wild animals, above all, wild animals! and that is part of being a living being (if you'll forgive the repetition). To love our dogs we don't need to protect them in a cotton nest.

 

An example: one of our SAR dogs always, in every real search, gets diarrhea because of the stress, but he LOVES his work, he loves it as much that all this over-excitament makes him sick. We don't let him at home because of that, could be not too graceful in front of the authorities to have a dog who have to poo every 10 meters in the middle of a search, but he does is work, and does it very well.

 

Yes, can be distressful situations and she can feel uncomfortable in some scenarios, but if she enjoy this kind of events as a whole, then, why not? But now, if you notice that she see preparations and want to hide, or that the velcro thing is the 100% of the time, or just your sixth sense tell you that she doesn't enjoy go to workshops, trials and competitions, then yes, leave her at home, you both will be happier, but by what I understood it doesn't seem to be the case.

 

And... enjoy it, I'll wish you the worst just by envy, here at home, but... enjoy it. :rolleyes:

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Horse culture to dog culture translation help needed...# 346436 in a series...

 

At horse shows/meets, if you have one that kicks, you tie a red ribbon in it's tail, and everyone gives you a wide berth.

 

Is there no dog world equivalent?

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lol no there is no dog world equivalent and even if there was Maggie wouldn't fall into that category and you can be sure that any dog that would would be discouraged from attending Clicker Expo.

 

Catu - I liked you way of expressing the thoughts that can go into this type of decision. I guess my problem is that Maggie seems neutral to slightly negatively stressed by big events, but that her presence and talents are nice to have with me, not to mention the warm furry critter to cuddle with at night. :rolleyes:

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Originally posted by MaggieDog:

Catu - I liked you way of expressing the thoughts that can go into this type of decision.

You understood my way of expressing!! That's enough for me.

 

I know I've improved my English this past year, but the kind of subjects we use to discuss on this forum still makes me struggle a lot (I'm not going to mention the times I edited that single post).

 

And if slightly stressed... I would go ahead. She will survive and both of you will take benefits of the seminars, maybe even somebody could help you with the behaviuor.

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It sounds to me like a great way to spend time with your dog and give her added socialization. My dog was well socialized as a pup and still doesn't like her personal space invaded. She even showed her teeth and air-snapped at a puppy last week. A puppy! But she's not aggressive, isn't a fighter and I just keep throwing her back into the fray and tell her to get a grip and deal with it. My advice: you sound like you worry too much. Bring your dog. Have fun.

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I agree with GeorgiaBC. I have one that obviously had little interaction with other dogs by the time I got her at the age of 5. She's not aggressive either but does bark out of intense excitement (kind of loses her mind). I bring her anyway - she's my dog quirks and all, I want her with me, and she always ends up having fun.

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there is no dog world equivalent and even if there was Maggie wouldn't fall into that category
If thats the case, then I would take her. Missy was way under socialized when I got her. She is 7 now as well. I continue to take her places that stretch her just a bit, and she continues to learn how to deal with with different situations little by little.

 

Unruly behavior goes both ways. Just as you will keep Maggie from getting a little snarky with dogs who may be pushing her a little, other owners should have control over their dogs to keep them from being too pushy.

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Oh...the red ribbon thing is just a warning system. It doesn't reflect in any way of the value of the animals. It's just a way to indicate your animal needs space.

 

I wasn't trying to be insulting.

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There is a dog world equivalent - red bandana around the dog's neck at a lot of training events means 'don't approach.'

 

Erin, if Maggie is comfortable without you, or if there's someone else going that you could trade 'dog sitting' with, you could have the best of both. Some down time for Maggie, which means time that you could focus totally on the lectures/classes, etc, and time spent in working with her. It sounds like Maggie is accustomed to going places with you, and that it wouldn't be that much of a stretch for her. You can always bow out for an afternoon or morning if you need to.

 

Good luck! I'm jealous that you get to go . . .

 

Ruth n the BC3

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pax - no insult taken! I just thought I'd clarify that we're not talking serious space issues, just discomfort w/ dogs at times

 

Ruth - I wish the seminars, etc. I've been at had that bandanna system; would've been quite handy in Maggie's early days lol. I like you idea of the buddy system, might have to run that by few contacts.

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Ruth as given a very good advice.

 

Try to take with you a crate, I do prefer the plastic ones because the dog feels more protected, but a wire one with a "pijama" to cover it can also work.

 

If Maggie is crate trained she'll be able to shut down the entire world and take a nap from time tp time, giving her time to reajust and you to do different things.

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I think if you were to interview the many dogs who have been taken to Clicker Expos, they would almost universally say that they really didn't enjoy it much. Karen Pryor strongly advises people to leave their dogs behind FOR THE DOG'S SAKE, not because she doesn't like dogs or believe that they shouldn't be in hotels or convention centers. Almost none of the instructors bring their own dogs (unlike, for example, agility clinics, where they often do) -- that should tell you something. One instructor I know who did bring one of their dogs early on felt terrible afterwards for putting the dog through long days where the humans are really focused pretty much on each other (or should be, to get the most out of the experience).

 

If you wanted to set up stressful experiences to give your dog practice coping with them that's fine, but this is a very expensive way to do it, and one that leaves you very little ability to control the level and duration of stress (other than leaving the room and missing the talk you paid SO much to hear and see). Clicker Expo is designed to be as intense as possible so you get the most out of the time you're there, but that philosophy does have its downside for dogs who didn't voluntarily sign up for the experience.

 

I went to one of the very first Clicker Expos, so maybe things have changed a bit, but I also wanted to say that compared to watching and listening I didn't get a whole lot out of the few minutes when we were actually working with our dogs, in a crowded roomful of people doing the same thing with a whole lot of other people standing around watching and talking and only one or two instructors to tend to the whole lot. There WILL be other people who bring their dogs, and I believe that you will get much more out of watching the instructor work with those people and their dogs than you ever would if you were on center stage.

 

This is coming from someone who pretty much takes their dogs everywhere. They even go on all my business trips. I do work hard, though, to make sure their days on the road are reasonably enjoyable for them (e.g. get up early for a long hike, or find a cool daycare once in a while). If I had no other option, I'd probably drag them through the long Clicker Expo days if I had to, but it wouldn't be for their sake that I did it. If Maggie has some place more fun to spend her time while you're at Expo, I say that's the way to go.

 

BTW, the trainers at Expo are really exceptional, especially Karen Pryor. I learned a tremendous amount about that style of training from watching them closely, and they're very good about pointing out subtle things they're doing that you might otherwise miss. You'll have a great time with or without your dog!

 

EDIT: I reread your original post and I have a couple minor things to add. First, Clicker Expo is nothing like a typical dog event. It is NOT a dog event, it's a people event. Think sports show or business convention. Everyone is WAY more compressed than at any dog seminar or trial I've been too. Second, there will be dogs stepping right over your dog, over and over, as they and their people come and go from their seats, like it would be if you spent three entire days sitting in a movie theatre. If your dog is not 110% laid back with that plan, you will either have to figure out how to create more space for her (like by standing at the back of the room) or take responsibility for those grimaces and whatever other "messages" she tries to send, which the Expo rules clearly state are not acceptable. I'm not trying to be negative here -- I just want to give you a clear picture of what it's like, since you asked (and good that you did!).

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I thought I remembered KP addressing on her website why your dog probably doesn't want to come to Expo, but it's not there. In fact, she gets all gushy about how miraculous it is to have a gajillion disparate dogs crammed into a hotel's corridors and meeting rooms and never a moment of anything but sweetness and light. So your mileage may vary.

 

In the course of looking, though, I did find something you might find useful: How to Handle the Clicker Expo

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Thanks Alaska for the input - all good info to keep in mind. I too had seen the link you posted and that's what really threw me into this kick on worrying about stress vs. benefit for my learning style.

 

And an update -

 

My mom's coming with me to Clicker Expo so she can play dogsitter as needed, especially in the evenings. I think she might even register for one day since there's a horse related lecture/lab session.

 

This is the perfect solution - if Maggie needs downtime, I won't have to worry about barking or missing things elsewhere and I can be sure she stays with someone she knows and who knows how to handle her as needed. Not to mention that I'll be free in the evenings and at lunch to network and talk to all the neat people as much as I want! How cool is that?!

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Excellent plan!

 

Personally, I didn't do a lot of networking at night. I was just glad to go off and relax with my dog in a non-stressful environment (i.e. the nearby and most excellent dog park, with lots of room to roam and a fantastic view). But again, YMMV.

 

The horse stuff is really, really cool, especially Panda, the little guide horse. You probably have this link too, but if not here you go: Alexandra Kurland

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