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CurlyQ
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Dear Doggers,

 

I don't think it matters much what sorts of techniques, consistently applied, are used to train pet dogs: the demands are so modest most pets get more-or-less trained by owners who've never attended a class or consulted a trainer. My quarrel with the UPenn preachers is that they pretend to be scientists who insistently rail against non-behaviorist training methods. That makes them stupid and me annoyed.

 

Donald McCaig

I think if you'd go for a visit you'd find that, rather than railing against other methods, they'd just show you what works for them. I think people there would be the first to say that dog training is as mush as an art as it is a science. Two of their trainers for their program have decades of real world experience with police and USAR dogs. With a success rate of over 90% for the dogs they're raising/training at the working dog center then I'd say it's well worth taking note of their methods.
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Just to clarify: the Behavior Dept and the Working Dog Center are two different entities with different staff, different roles, and different clientele.

 

Not saying this pup needs a boarded behaviorist, but adding to the tangent of this discussion ;)

 

A nice training facility outside of Philly is Y2K9s. I did numerous classes (including puppy class) with my non-sheepdog BC when I lived there. You should be able to Google for the website.

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A few days after posting this, I've begun to notice improvements. I'll post them since I left off my OP with a rather bitter tone.

 

Maybe a day or two after posting this, I was walking Maple through the neighborhood when my neighbor's spaniels rushed out the door and right towards us. I didn't run of course, but backed up a few steps instinctively before I was able to see whether or not the dogs were aggressive. I was concerned about how Maple would react to their pushy and uncontrolled approach, but was incredibly surprised when she sniffed noses with one and simply gave the other a warning bark before their owner caught up. I praised the calm attitude, of course, and my neighbor apologized profusely. She scolded them when they returned to her (if Maple had returned to my side in the presence of another dog, we'd have been celebrating, not scolding), and I made up my mind to not go back on that path again. While this may seem like a bad situation (and it was), I was very proud of the way she reacted.

 

I do wonder if this was the right course of action, though. How do you guys feel about her reaction? I had an idea that if the dogs pushed at me harder, she would've either gotten more protective or tried to flee. It's always a tough call when approached by off-leash dogs, and I'm interested to see others' opinions on the matter.

 

Another situation happened a couple days ago, while returning from playing at a nearby pond. I was walking Mae up the trail when my neighbor and his dog approached. He made her sit and leashed her before approaching us, which after the previous incident, I appreciated. Through walking Maple around the neighborhood, I've actually grown fond of his wife, who always makes a point to praise Maple's improvements on-leash. Their dog, Peaches, is a very gentle and well-trained poodle-mix (I'm guessing). My neighbor approached slowly and made Peaches sit by his side. He asked to pet Mae, and I responded with "She's in a weird phase right now, but if you could toss her some treats that'd be great". After tossing the first one, Maple approached and took the next from his hand. He asked her to sit for the last one, and not only did she listen, she bent her head to the side so he could scratch her cheek while she chewed! Maple proceeded to walk up, calmly sniff Peaches, and then sit patiently beside me while we said our goodbyes. I think I was the only one who was stressed during this encounter! I practically skipped home, cooing over my "good, friendly girl".

 

And then today, when meeting one of my male relatives for the first time, she reacted warily at first. I wasn't concerned, since it was better than barking, and showed my relative around our new house. About half-way through the tour, I turn around to see him scratching her back while she sniffed his pant leg. After that, they even played tug-of-war for a few minutes before we left the house.

 

I honestly don't know what's gotten into her! Two strange men and three strange dogs all in one week, and I'm the one who's freaking out! Not to mention only attempting to chase one or two cars. I can still see her get antsy around them, but she actually looks to me for the tug-toy before trying to chase. I almost feel like car chasing is frustration, and when she has something else (tug-toy) to take that frustration out on, it's not an impossible feat to redirect the behavior.

 

Of course, there's always pride before the fall. Just because we've had two or three breakthroughs in the course of a week, I'm still keeping her on a short-leash (literally!). I've talked it over with family members, and the plan is to keep her baby gated off from any small children that come over. If she's not absolutely terrified, I may consider allowing them to toss her a few treats through the gate. I'm so happy with the progress, but I don't want to push her too hard. I'll probably post again after our little-kid experience to let you know how it went.

 

Wish us luck! So proud of my girl!

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