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This is my first post to the site, but I've been reading for a few months now, and wanted to comment on what a great resourse it has been! So much great information!

 

Now for my situation. We brought Max home the week before Christmas, and fell instantly in love with him. I've researched border collies for years and felt I was in a place to give the time and effort involved in adding one to our family(I have three kids and another dog(a pug)). So, we got him at 16 weeks, and he's now 6 months old. we've had him for 11 weeks now, and things are going so well in so many areas, except the people(stranger) agression.

 

Max hasn't bitten anyone, but completely flips out when he sees people. I purchased him from a breeder, who has a farm and his parents are supposedly working dogs, although I didn't actually get to meet them. I know that she was very pregnant at the time, and confessed to not doing much at all with the pups due to that. There were some circumstances that prevented her from selling the pups earlier when they were small, and I do not believe they were well socialized, and were left to their own devices until we got him at 16 weeks.

 

He seemed to be great the first week we had him, and of course it was christmas, so we had lots of opportunity to have him around people. He took it all in stride and after an initial confused look, he would greet everyone with wagging tail and submission. He did have a run in with our in law's new dog, a rowdy boxer who was just trying to play, but swatted Max and was just being too "in your face" for his liking. He started acting extremely aggressive toward her if she came anywhere near him. Being the misled dog owner that I am... and at the urging of everyone (my mil was very upset that I got a bc in the first place!) I tried to punish him for his aggressive reaction and force him into submission in front of this other nutty dog. Ugh! I came home and cried, and vowed to not misbehave around my dog ever again.

 

Next week after he seemed comfortable in our home, and bonding with our family, anyone who came over, or we passed on a walk, was greeted with growling/lunging/snapping/jumping/barking. :( I've been trying lots of positive reinforcement, click and treat when we see people, praising for good behavior, etc, but he just seems to be getting worse, not better. There are a few people who have come over who he will eventually warm up to, but there is deffinately a great show of aggression for about a hour before he will settle.

 

I'm trying desperately to figure out what type of aggression we're dealing with here! At first I was thinking he's just scared of people, but he's very bold and doesn't seem scared of anyting(except the vaccuum! lol). We had an incicent a few days ago where my kids had a neighbor friend over, Max wouldn't settle, so I sent them upstairs to play while I had him downstairs with me on leash. (he's always on lease when people are over) Well, he heard a laugh from upstairs, got away from me, scaled the stairs gate, ran up, slammed the door open and went after her. he didn't bite her(thank goodness!!) but cornered her barking and jumping/nipping at her. Then an hour later, he walked up to her, and tried to get her to play with him. So we took him outside and they played ball(i still had him with me on leash!).

 

Is he just being very territorial? He is very mouthy, and uses his mouth a lot in play with our other dog, us at times too, but we're working on that! He seems extremely aware of his teeth, as we work on "no teeth" daily. When we play he can lunge at a toy in my hand from across the room and if my finger is just a tiny bit in his mouth he keeps it loose.

 

But if he's being territorial, what's the deal with the agression when we're out on walks? He seems to tollerare dogs much better than people he meets. If it sounds like a friendly bark he'll look alert, but almost wag his tail looking for the dog. When we walk past a person, he will lunge at them. I'm working with him to get him to sit and let people walk past him, but it's slow going.

 

I'm feeling overwhelmed with this issue at the moment. I love him so much, and he is great with our kids, very fun to play with(although, he will choose our other dog over us any day!). He is doing well with obedience, although not with distractions yet. He is not very food motivated, and i'm having trouble keeping his attention in any situation other than peaceful quiet inside the house. Need to find his "candy" still.

 

I would love to take him to some puppy classes, but I don't think he would tollerate that yet. I will be contacting the local dog training group to see what they might be able to offer us. We would like to get him neutered asap, but I just don't know how traumatizing that might be for him right now.

 

Sorry this is so long and all over the place! If anyone has any ideas or any suggestions I would greatly appreciate them. :) I love my Max so much, and will do anything to keep him, but I'm feeling so down right now, thinking that he might not be the dog I'd hoped he would be. Really wanted a go anywhere do anything dog to travel with us, camping, hiking, visiting friends, as well as doing agility with our local group. right now I just can't imagine it being possible to even leave him with anyone, let alone take him along unless we can straighten this out! tia!

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I think, first of all, that you should not think that a bold dog cannot be fear aggressive. I sometimes think that a bold dog with fear aggression is a heck of a lot more problematic than a shy one. Your dog can be a bold bugger and he can still be afraid of strangers, and the problem is that as his confidence as a maturing dog grows, unless you get the stranger-danger issue under control, he not only WILL bite somebody, he's going to bite them quite seriously.

 

In an ideal world, you would have recognized the "breeder's" excuses for why she had a litter of unsocialized older pups whose parents you couldn't see and walked away from her and gone somewhere else. In a slightly less than perfect world, you would have consulted a behaviourist as soon as your brand new 4 month old puppy started snarling and lunging at strangers. In this much less than perfect scenario, you have an adolescent dog with a fairly serious behavioural issue that has shown no improvement in almost 3 months. Very soon he is going to be a grown up dog with a very serious - and dangerous - behavioural issue.

 

In short, my advice would be to consult a behaviourist ASAP. My caveat is don't be surprised if they tell you that this dog is not in the right environment and suggest you find a more suitable fit for your family. You want a go-everywhere kind of dog who is relaxed around your kids' friends and other strangers, and the chances of this dog ever being *that* dog are actually quite slim. It's not particularly normal for a 4 month old puppy to snarl and lunge at strangers at all, so you don't really have a normal puppy with a problem, you have a problem puppy. That doesn't mean it's not possible to alter his response to strangers, but it's going to be difficult, not easy, and he will probably never be a "go-everywhere, like everyone" sort of dog. So you have to decide whether or not you can live with him if he is not ever that kind of dog, and also how much work you are willing and able to put into him to make him some semblance of normal. The worst thing you can do is not work on it effectively, because he will continue to get worse, not better, and managing a dog with stranger-aggression is neither easy nor fun.

 

While I realize I sound like a Debbie Downer, and I've probably bummed you out, I say all this stuff to you because I think too often people want to tell folks like you that with hard work and lots of love and patience, you can turn your dog around! In reality, with lots of hard work, lots of tears, some really shitty moments and a total ongoing committment to your dog, he *might* turn around, and probably you will at least get a handle on his behaviour in a management capacity. He (or you) also might not. And I think you should know that, because I'd rather upset you now than see you upset 3 months from now when he really bites someone.

 

FWIW

 

RDM

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I am sorry to say that RDM's warnings and concerns all seem very legitimate to me. As she recommends, please find a board certified behaviorist ASAP and please continue to take every precaution with him in the meantime. Keeping him on leash, or better yet securely constrained (I'm thinking a crate in a closed off room that is completely off limits to visitors) whenever people are over. Be especially hyper-vigilant whenever children visit. I know you love him and he has many wonderful qualities but you have such potential for huge liability and even tragedy. I'm very sorry you are in such a predicament. I know what it is like to love and live with a dangerous dog. It is nerve wracking and often leads to heartbreak.

 

I haven't met you or your dog. I am not an expert on dog aggression. Maybe you can turn this around with the appropriate guidance, time and hard work. But in the meantime, assume that your dog's next acting out episode may result in him injuring a person possibly severely and keep him away from non family members.

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Dear Doggers,

 

I am less enamored of "Board Certified Behaviorists" than some on this list. That certification is earned by adherence to a specific training philosophy, not any record of training successes. A plain-as-dirt "Dog Trainer" may succeed where they can't. Some Dog Trainers specialize with aggressive dogs.

 

Tony Ancheta is not the only trainer specializing in dogs others have given up on but he's the only one I've seen working a half dozen once-aggressive dogs. Tony claims that in all the years he's rehabilitated aggressive dogs, only two failed and were put down. When they were autopsied they had brain anomalies. http://www.koehlerdogtraining.com/bio2.html.

 

There are three pet dog trainer organizations. APDT is behaviorist.: http://www.apdt.com//

The oldest and most stringent trainer organization is NADOI http://www.nadoi.org/. The newest - I'm a member - is the IACP http://canineprofessionals.com/.

 

Each of these organizations can recommend a nearby trainer. If, when you call the trainer, they offer academic degrees or a philosophical discourse, I'd steer clear. Uni philosophy departments are the philosophers' proper habitat. Talk's cheap in the dog training ring.

 

If they brag about how many dogs they have successfully trained, pay a visit. Ask what they have achieved with their dogs and take a good hard look at their own dog. If that's the kind of dog you want and you feel compatible with the trainer, sign on.

 

You won't be asked for much money but you must pledge your commitment. It takes weeks of classes and practice for the novice dog owner to train his/her dog to ordinary, reliable good manners.

 

One reason to make this commitment is because the dog will love it. Dogs want the world to make sense. Dogs want to be trained.

 

Donald McCaig

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Dear Doggers,I am less enamored of "Board Certified Behaviorists" than some on this list. That certification is earned by adherence to a specific training philosophy, not any record of training successes.

 

Board certified behaviorists are veterinarians with post graduate training in animal behavior. They are equivalent to psychiatrists, who are MDs that have performed a residency lasting several years in psychiatry and then have passed a test administered by the psychiatry board.

 

While there are many who don't place much stock in psychiatry (human or animal), it can be a lifesaver. The advantages of using a board certified veterinary behaviorist is that the person can prescribe psychoactive drugs and has the knowledge to use them correctly.

 

While many people call themselves (non veterinary) behaviorists, the credentialling and experience can vary widely among these folks.

 

Nonetheless, a board certified veterinary behaviorist improved my dog's quality of life significantly and perhaps saved her life. Of course, other folks may have chosen to label the dog as being "sulky" and "aggressive" and then acted in a manner causing more harm than good.

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Dear Doggers,

 

As Ms./Mr/ Black Dawgs has noted: "While many people call themselves (non veterinary) behaviorists, the credentialling and experience can vary widely among these folks."

True. Here are a few. http://www.apdt.com/join/certification/default.aspx

 

Veterinary Behaviorists can prescribe. Non-vet behaviorists need a vet to prescribe. Neither need demonstrate his/her ability to train dogs. Without doubt, some can. Blackdawgs has had a successful experience with one such. Good.

 

Others can't. I've spent hours with several of the best known. One (a non-vet) was a brilliant trainer. I'd not trust another (a vet) with any dog Prozac couldn't cure.

 

I repeat. When you seek help for a dog, look to the dogs the trainer has previously trained. A certificate, like a pedigree, is a piece of paper.

 

 

Donald McCaig

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Although behavior modification can look like training, it is NOT training. Behavior modification (a very long process)changes the underlying emotional state of the animal.

 

Yes, this ^^ is an important distinction between training a dog, and changing its responses to stimulus that it fears.

 

While I agree that many dogs out there have "bad manners" as Mr. McCaig suggests, and a good trainer can change those manners, a puppy who has been lunging and snarling at people from a young age needs a different kind of intervention, imo. This is more than a learned "bad" behaviour. Puppies should never fear and mistrust people to this degree, and one who does has more than a manners problem.

 

RDM

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a little background on myself, my mother, a long time ago, used to raise/train st bernards, and i have had dogs all my life. i've been practicing positive reinforcement clicker training for about 9 years now. i've owned many breeds, but this is my first border collie. i absolutely love the energy, the intelligence, and everything about the breed, and have been in love with all the border collies i've had the pleasure of knowing.

 

I think, first of all, that you should not think that a bold dog cannot be fear aggressive. I sometimes think that a bold dog with fear aggression is a heck of a lot more problematic than a shy one. Your dog can be a bold bugger and he can still be afraid of strangers, and the problem is that as his confidence as a maturing dog grows, unless you get the stranger-danger issue under control, he not only WILL bite somebody, he's going to bite them quite seriously.

 

these are the thoughts that have been running through my head. it has been very disturbing to me to try and understand why a 4 month old puppy would be so aggressive. i've never been around an aggressive puppy before. i was originally confused as to if he was just being a hyper bc, or if there were underlying issues, but i think it's becoming clear that there are many other issues at play here. aggression in a puppy is just not normal, even for a bc, correct?

 

i have tried to contact his breeder, but she has not replied yet. i know she must be busy with a new baby right about now though. she did give me some background on his parentage, and she claims his grandfather is spot(herding champ in scotland). his mom is missy, out of jess. i don't know much about max's father other than the pics she sent me of him. i'm kicking myself right now agreeing to get the puppy without meeting the parents. it was a long drive and she was going out so we met half way. hindsight is 20/20. ugh.

 

it's been hard because i have wanted to socialize him more, but i can't let him just "be" around people! i have been consulting with some herbalist friends of mine and we may start some herbal support for him, as well as doing some energy work, trying to clear some issues he may have.

 

thanks for the links on the behaviorists! i will see if there are any that would be close by. i am in north eastern pa, if anyone knows anyone close by they could suggest!

 

i will say though, that my husband is not in love with him due to his issues with aggression and housebreaking(didn't think it would be this hard! and he's still not reliable at 6 months!! ugh), and is having a very hard time agreeing to spending much money on classes or behaviorists. :( we had thought we were ready for another dog a year ago and adopted an older little dog that was very aggressive toward our other dog(bloody violent fights!). i wouldn't tollerate that and we found him another home asap. i think he is holding his tongue, but would be relieved if max were to not be with us anymore. i would like to try everything possible before we get to that point, but i hate that i don't have his support here.

 

another issue i'm struggling with is taking another dog away from my kids, who are super attached to max at this point. however, dealing with extra aggression issues might be beyond me right now. it's killing me to think of keeping him, and keeping him under constant vigilance, or finding other arrangements for him.

 

again, thank you for all the replies. lots to think about.

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ITA agree with RDM. I just wanted to add (and this may be unpopular) but please don't dump him off on someone else--particularly an animal shelter and make him someone else problem.

 

In my opinion, a puppy with aggression issues is worse than adult with aggression issues because chances are, it's not a learned behavior but rather falls back on fundamental genetic temperament problems or a severe, severe lack of socialization.

 

If you cannot, or do not want to put for the considerable time and effort forth to make him a safer dog, then put him to sleep. The world doesn't need another aggressive dog walking around and it's unfair to make him someone else's problem.

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Dear Doggers,

 

Ms/Mr Blackdawgs writes:

 

“Although behavior modification can look like training, it is NOT training. Behavior modification (a very long process)changes the underlying emotional state of the animal.”

 

While Behavior Modification does take longer to achieve desired results than traditional or ecollar training; that Behavior Modification is NOT training is news to me.

 

Today is Transfiguration Sunday – is that the sort of change you mean?

 

Donald McCaig

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ITA agree with RDM. I just wanted to add (and this may be unpopular) but please don't dump him off on someone else--particularly an animal shelter and make him someone else problem.

 

In my opinion, a puppy with aggression issues is worse than adult with aggression issues because chances are, it's not a learned behavior but rather falls back on fundamental genetic temperament problems or a severe, severe lack of socialization.

 

If you cannot, or do not want to put for the considerable time and effort forth to make him a safer dog, then put him to sleep. The world doesn't need another aggressive dog walking around and it's unfair to make him someone else's problem.

 

This bears repeating ^^

 

To the OP, no, aggressive behavior is not normal for a BC pup. Mouthy, hyper, overexcited, even nippy are all issues that you might run into in a normal pup. These can be dealt with. Out and out aggression in a pup is a whole different very serious issue. I hope you find a professional that can help you get answers one way or another soon.

 

I'm really sorry that you and family are in this situation. It really sucks.

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Dear Doggers,

 

Ms/Mr Blackdawgs writes:

 

“Although behavior modification can look like training, it is NOT training. Behavior modification (a very long process)changes the underlying emotional state of the animal.”

 

While Behavior Modification does take longer to achieve desired results than traditional or ecollar training; that Behavior Modification is NOT training is news to me.

 

Today is Transfiguration Sunday – is that the sort of change you mean?

 

Donald McCaig

 

I think what she is referring to is that a dog trainer that can teach mechanical training, i.e. sit, down, heel, etc does not necessarily understand how to modify behaviour, or can deal with behaviourial issues such as fear, etc. I know lots of them trainers like that.

 

BTW - have you read Koehler's books on dog training- it's punishment/correction based. His recommendations for some behaviour problems is down right abusive - sticking a dog's head under water to stop it from digging holes - hanging dogs off their feet on choke chains, etc. Nice training recommendations.

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Let us suppose that you are terrified of spiders. When you see a spider, you have an anxiety attack. You sweat, your heart races, you hyperventillate, your blood pressure increases, your bowel's turn to water. Let us suppose that you are meeting with your boss and a spider crawls across his desk. You start to get up and run and your boss says, "if you leave that chair, I will fire you". So, you stay seated. However, your blood pressure skyrockets, you sweat, your respiration increases, and you can't concentrate on what your boss is saying. Finally, the meeting is over. After you leave the office, you snap at your co-workers and then later that evening you snap at the kids and spouse because you are still jittery from seeing that spider and having to sit on that chair despite every instinct telling you to get up and run. You are still jittery because the adrenyline and corticosteroids that were released in response to the spider 6 hours previously are still in your bloodstream.

 

Now, let us suppose that very gradually over time, you are slowly exposed to spiders. You begin to learn that spiders won't hurt hurt you. And every time you see a spider, someone gives you $100. The negative association of spiders is replaced with the positive assocation of money (it doesn't have to be money, it can be anything that really floats your boat). After six months of this program, your heart doesn't doesn't race as fast, your blood pressure doesn't increase as much, your respiration isn't so fast, and you no longer feel like you are going to crap in your pants every time you see a spider. And after a year, your vital signs don't increase at all, if you see a spider.

 

And then one day, you are sitting in your boss's office and a spider crawls across his desk. And you say to yourself, "whatever" and even feel a little happy because someone may give you $100. The meeting with your boss is productive because you can concentrate on what he is saying. When you leave your boss's office, you greet your coworkers pleasantly because you are relaxed after your meeting.

 

This is behavior modification.

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Let us suppose that you are terrified of dentists. When you see a dentist, you have an anxiety attack. You sweat, your heart races, you hyperventillate, your blood pressure increases, your bowel's turn to water. Let us suppose that you are going to the dentist and he says you need a filling. You start to get up and run. Your blood pressure skyrockets, you sweat, your respiration increases, and you can't concentrate on what your dentist is saying. Finally, the appointment is over. After you leave the office, you snap at the kids and spouse because you are still jittery from seeing that dentist and having to sit on that chair despite every instinct telling you to get up and run. You are still jittery because the adrenyline and corticosteroids that were released in response to the dentist 6 hours previously are still in your bloodstream.

 

Now, let us suppose that very gradually over time, you are slowly exposed to dentists. You begin to learn that dentists won't hurt hurt you (only sentence where this substitution doesn't really fit!). And every time you see a dentist, someone gives you $1000 (cause that's what it would take, for me). The negative association of dentists is replaced with the positive assocation of money (it doesn't have to be money, it can be anything that really floats your boat). After six months of this program, your heart doesn't doesn't race as fast, your blood pressure doesn't increase as much, your respiration isn't so fast, and you no longer feel like you are going to crap in your pants every time you see a dentist. And after a year, your vital signs don't increase at all, if you see a dentist.

 

And then one day, you are sitting in your dentist's office and you say to yourself, "whatever" and even feel a little happy because someone may give you $1000.

 

:lol: Sorry...couldn't resist! Sign me up! :lol:

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Dear Doggers,

 

I thank those who’ve tried to teach me the difference between Behavior Modification and training but I fear the distinction eludes me. It is true that AKC obedience forms the structure for many traditional trainers: viz: a trained dog is one that can heel, come when called, sit, etc. I doubt the usefulness of some of these exercises but they are the owner/trainer’s “practicing scales” - they establish a working relationship between owner and dog.

 

I have seen behaviorists/positive trainers/clicker trainers who were doing a good job preparing average pet dogs for average families. Agility and freestyle trainers use these methods successfully. They are contra indicated in SAR, Sheepdog, Police dog, Bird dog and competitive obedience training.

 

Skilled dog trainers (and there are many) routinely deal with behavior issues like fearfulness, and dog/dog and dog/human aggression . Indeed, I have never met a Behaviorist as able to solve these common problems as well as the best dog trainers.

 

Theory aside; there’s a real five month old pup here. The pup isn’t working out and someone has suggested that the solution may be kill the pup.

 

Huh?

 

This is a pup nobody on this list has seen, owned by a not very dog savvy owner nobody on the list has met. Apparently, it makes aggressive moves towards non-family members.

 

It is possible but extremely unlikely the pup has neurological problems. It is possible that the pup was poorly socialized by his breeder. It is likely the pup is not being handled/trained properly by its distressed owner.

 

There is a straight forward remedy: take the pup to a dog trainer – or a Behaviorist – who has successfully retrained aggressive dogs. The dog must learn manners and the owner must learn how to instill and encourage manners.

 

The pup’s problems, as related here, are not insoluble. Fix them. Have a good life together.

 

Donald McCaig

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I agree Donald,

 

Working with a good trainer may save this dog's life. I know the veterinary behaviorist around here gets $300+ for an appointment....and often produces equivocal results after many many months.

 

It always amazes [saddens] me that some people (not necessarily on this forum) would rather kill a dog than go to a qualified trainer who may use positive punishment to train the dog how to get along in our world.

 

Using the spider analogy...I hate spiders. If for months on end I knew I was gonna get exposed to spiders I'd have lots of stress- even if I did get the money. If on the other hand I could get my spider fear cured in a matter of minutes or hours then for the period of time I was being exposed it would be stressful no doubt. But it would not drag on & on for months. Once it was over I'd be happy & realize that I survived the spider exposure & it wasn't that bad after all.

 

All that said, I choose to manage my arachnophobia with cans of Raid & flyswatters nearby. :)

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Working with a good trainer may save this dog's life. I know the veterinary behaviorist around here gets $300+ for an appointment....and often produces equivocal results after many many months.

 

With my extremely anxious and fear aggressive dog (her trigger was dogs, she is wonderful with humans), we hit a wall with the fancy OTCH trainer (who in retrospect did not have much experience with aggression). We do have a former police dog trainer here who specializes in aggression, but this is not a person that one would want near an uber soft Border Collie.

 

Before dumping $300+ on the veterinary behaviorist, I, ofcourse, asked around and received many opinions. I also asked my regular vet, who is a pragmatist, about the experiences of clients that she referred to the behaviorist. My regular vet said that in her experience, the people who went to the behaviorist expecting a magic bullet were disapointed. But, those who put in the work and stuck with the program were pleased.

 

My experiences with the behaviorist were positive. Having said that, I am probably more dedicated and committed than the average pet dog owner.

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I agree Donald,

 

Working with a good trainer may save this dog's life. I know the veterinary behaviorist around here gets $300+ for an appointment....and often produces equivocal results after many many months.

 

It always amazes [saddens] me that some people (not necessarily on this forum) would rather kill a dog than go to a qualified trainer who may use positive punishment to train the dog how to get along in our world.

 

Using the spider analogy...I hate spiders. If for months on end I knew I was gonna get exposed to spiders I'd have lots of stress- even if I did get the money. If on the other hand I could get my spider fear cured in a matter of minutes or hours then for the period of time I was being exposed it would be stressful no doubt. But it would not drag on & on for months. Once it was over I'd be happy & realize that I survived the spider exposure & it wasn't that bad after all.

 

All that said, I choose to manage my arachnophobia with cans of Raid & flyswatters nearby. :)

 

 

 

Hmmm....I wonder if Raid and flyswatters would work on my dentist! <_<

All joking aside, I do hope you're able to overcome the issue. Please let us know how it goes.

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They are contra indicated in SAR, Sheepdog, Police dog, Bird dog and competitive obedience training.

 

Mr McCaig,

 

Several times now you have said that positive training is not used in SAR training. This is not true. Period. Stop. Many, many many SAR dogs are successfully trained with positive methods. The whole system is based on positive reinforcement! Dog wants rewards, person hiding has reward, dog finds person gets reward. Yes, corrections brought in later on, but you want the dog in the frame of mind that it is a fun game of hide and seek. They work better than Koehler methods as far a SAR is concerned. Over the past year I've been watching a pup go through the training process for disaster and wilderness SAR work. The training method? positive, positive, positive with only an occasional correction.

 

I'm not sure why you keep stating this is not the case. Check out the book "Training the Disaster Search Dog" if you'd like to see the tried and true methods that a top SAR trainer recommends.

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Mr McCaig,

 

Several times now you have said that positive training is not used in SAR training. This is not true. Period. Stop. Many, many many SAR dogs are successfully trained with positive methods. The whole system is based on positive reinforcement! Dog wants rewards, person hiding has reward, dog finds person gets reward. Yes, corrections brought in later on, but you want the dog in the frame of mind that it is a fun game of hide and seek. They work better than Koehler methods as far a SAR is concerned. Over the past year I've been watching a pup go through the training process for disaster and wilderness SAR work. The training method? positive, positive, positive with only an occasional correction.

 

I'm not sure why you keep stating this is not the case. Check out the book "Training the Disaster Search Dog" if you'd like to see the tried and true methods that a top SAR trainer recommends.

 

There are also many, many people using it successfully in competitive obedience training and far fewer, but still a few successfully using it in gun dog training, and police dog training.

 

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There is a straight forward remedy: take the pup to a dog trainer – or a Behaviorist – who has successfully retrained aggressive dogs. The dog must learn manners and the owner must learn how to instill and encourage manners.

 

The pup’s problems, as related here, are not insoluble. Fix them. Have a good life together.

 

I am quite sure I said this already, but I will say it again for the benefit of anyone reading it who wants to actually learn the difference between training and behavioural modification.

 

This is not "bad manners" on the part of the puppy. Normal 4 month old puppies do *NOT* lunge and snarl at people. It has nothing to do with manners at all, because it's a response to humans that goes way beyond manners.

 

Let's try this - if you were afraid of spiders and someone slapped you in the face every time you expressed your fear or spiders, I'm willing to bet you would stop screaming when you saw a spider, but you'd still be afraid of spiders. I don't know about the rest of you, but I would way rather someone took the time to desensitize me to spiders rather than slap me in the face for a fear I can't help experiencing. Nobody taught me to be afraid of spiders, it's just some irrational fear I have and I can't help it, and now when I see a spider I am afraid of it AND I am afraid of being slapped in the face. How awesome is my life now? Pretty shitty.

 

For some people, cessation of my screaming is enough for them. For other people, they would rather I learned how to not be afraid of spiders because my reaction is hard for them to be around, but also because they care about my emotional well being. That's the difference between a trainer and a behaviorist.

 

Forcing the dog to not lunge and snarl at strangers won't change his fear of strangers at all, though it may suppress the lunging and snarling. For some people and their purposes that is enough. There are plenty of trainers who believe that correcting the dog's reaction is the same thing as solving the problem, but the idea behind behavioral modification is to change what is CAUSING the reaction in the first place. I'm honestly not sure why this is a difficult distinction for people, except that I think some people prefer a short term "solution" for them, not the dog.

 

Four month old puppies who are lunging and snarling at strangers didn't learn that behaviour, and unlearning it is not a matter of manners. Puppies this young with a behavioural issue this serious are way beyond an issue of "manners." And in a case of a dog this young, with this serious an issue, I really don't believe that just changing the reaction is enough. I've dealt with (and sadly had to euthanize) enough adolescent or adult dogs who bite without any warning at all to know that correcting the reaction is not the best road to go down. Brushing off a behaviour this serious with the summation that it's just "bad manners" is *such* a grave mistake. It's very sadly ironic that anyone would tell someone it's ridiculous to suggest euthanasia for this dog they have never met and in the same breath, wave away a dog's (a dog they also have never met) seriously frightening reaction to strangers as "bad manners" and suggest they are completely fixable in such a cavalier way.

 

Using someone's real life problem as an exercise in being contrary about behavioural modification is appalling, and irresponsible.

 

RDM

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