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Our "trainer" choked my dog.


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In terms of the impulse control, it wasn't so much that he had worse impulse control than any other puppy, it was that he would play for a few seconds and then turn into a snarly snippy mess. He needed to learn how to take breaks and how not to get so worked up. A lot of that was done through impulse control training (or so I'm told, and we did do a lot of impulse control training), as well as just having more experience around other dogs, I think. Is that wrong?

 

If my puppy were going over threshold to that extent, I would be doing two things:

 

1. I would literally take the puppy out of the room for a chance to take a break and pull himself back together. On that break (outside the room), I would work relaxation on a mat, or take him outside to sniff, or go sit in the car for a while. I would be very selective about the dogs that he got to play with, and would try to find dogs that he could play with longer without getting excited like that.

 

2. I would be working meaningful impulse control exercises away from class. Duration in the crate, mat work, LAT, doggie zen, etc., to equip him with tools that could be used in class to help him learn to keep his head in order.

 

I don't know what the facility you are is calling "impulse control" (stringing up a puppy by a leash is not impulse control work). I would look to the CU Puppy program or take an online class through the Fenzi Academy. They have several good puppy level and basic impulse control classes that might be very helpful.

 

Socialization is important, but I would be wary of putting a Border Collie puppy in situations that would give him the opportunity to practice going over threshold.

 

Bandit is starting Foundation Agility this Friday. The first order of business is going to be helping him be relaxed on the sidelines while dogs are working on the floor. We will be doing crate work and mat work and LAT. If he can't handle that with dogs working on the floor (I expect he will be fine), we will go to class for about 10 minutes, work on that, do one foundation exercise, and then go home, and increase his time in the class as his capacity for impulse control grows. I will not, under any circumstances, put him in a situation where he is practicing over threshold behavior. We may have to miss out on some "fun" now but it's a lot less fun to try to rehabilitate overstimulation in the long run and a lot more fun working with a dog who can keep his head where it needs to be.

 

Just some food for thought. There are some really excellent impulse control building programs out there. I would definitely explore that . . .

 

And, remember, impulse control is not learned in one fell swoop. It takes time. And . . . you will probably loose a good measure of it at adolescence, for a time. It's a work in progress for a lot of young dogs.

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If my puppy were going over threshold to that extent, I would be doing two things:

 

1. I would literally take the puppy out of the room for a chance to take a break and pull himself back together. On that break (outside the room), I would work relaxation on a mat, or take him outside to sniff, or go sit in the car for a while. I would be very selective about the dogs that he got to play with, and would try to find dogs that he could play with longer without getting excited like that.

 

2. I would be working meaningful impulse control exercises away from class. Duration in the crate, mat work, LAT, doggie zen, etc., to equip him with tools that could be used in class to help him learn to keep his head in order.

 

I don't know what the facility you are is calling "impulse control" (stringing up a puppy by a leash is not impulse control work). I would look to the CU Puppy program or take an online class through the Fenzi Academy. They have several good puppy level and basic impulse control classes that might be very helpful.

 

Socialization is important, but I would be wary of putting a Border Collie puppy in situations that would give him the opportunity to practice going over threshold.

 

Bandit is starting Foundation Agility this Friday. The first order of business is going to be helping him be relaxed on the sidelines while dogs are working on the floor. We will be doing crate work and mat work and LAT. If he can't handle that with dogs working on the floor (I expect he will be fine), we will go to class for about 10 minutes, work on that, do one foundation exercise, and then go home, and increase his time in the class as his capacity for impulse control grows. I will not, under any circumstances, put him in a situation where he is practicing over threshold behavior. We may have to miss out on some "fun" now but it's a lot less fun to try to rehabilitate overstimulation in the long run and a lot more fun working with a dog who can keep his head where it needs to be.

 

Just some food for thought. There are some really excellent impulse control building programs out there. I would definitely explore that . . .

 

And, remember, impulse control is not learned in one fell swoop. It takes time. And . . . you will probably loose a good measure of it at adolescence, for a time. It's a work in progress for a lot of young dogs.

 

He was being removed from the situation and given to us to calm him down, he did it a few separate times and then got the message. We did work on impulse control exercises at home. He no longer has any problem with going over threshold while playing, and his impulse control is quite good. I'm not worried.

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I'm with MossyOak. Doesn't matter what your pup was doing, that's not the correction. If the guy's damaged your "property" you have recourse. The way I'd treat it is, my dog coughed and gasped, you did him damage, period... and all hell would break loose. Vet check first, get notes from the vet just as to what he physically finds, then call the owner - and have a clear idea what you want to happen. In exactly your shoes as you described it, I'd want to go right back into the very next class, I'd want the guy to call for a minute of quiet and, recalling to those there what he did, apologise to you for manhandling your dog while he fully acknowledged that his was the wrong and angry way to correct any behaviour. Try imagining it was your kid if you need to, (because it sort of is). THEN I'd walk out and never come back. And since he admitted what he did publicly, I would make social media an option for myself - there's no libel involved now.

 

 

Then when I got home, I'd make a voodoo doll of him and stick its eyeball in with a pin. Lol

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This is slightly off topic and I can't remember which trainer said this originally, but it made so much sense to me (DUH! moment) that I wanted to share it.

 

The WORST thing to happen to socialization of dogs in this country was the advent and popularity of puppy K classes in which groups of young dogs are released to play with one another.

 

Why?

 

1) Think of the book Lord of the Flies. Without the guidance of adults, the kids run wild, start to become aggressive and kill one another. Many puppy K classes are no different. The pups run wild, bullying, grabbing, tackling, body slamming, nose punching, etc. Bigger, bolder pups learn to be jerks in public because no one teaches them that their actions are rude. Quieter, less bold pups learn to use aggression to defend themselves from unwanted advances. So now you are left with jerks and all the other dogs that are afraid of the jerks. Puppy class backfired and did the opposite of what we wanted (creating polite, well socialized dogs).

 

I think back to the trainer who really got me going and I am so grateful for her. At her puppy classes she barely let the pups touch one another. Instead, pups rotated in a play pen with an adult female she owned with impeccable manners and experience with raising pups. She would play with them, but she would also fairly discipline them if they got stupid. The trainer taught me that pups grow up into the most polite, respectful adults when they are mostly socialized with balanced adult dogs, NOT other puppies.

 

I am so grateful to have a stable pack of dogs that helps me raise pups. For people who aren't as lucky, I recommend they seek out friends with stable, polite, puppy friendly dogs for the bulk of their socialization.

 

This is Sage, one of my dogs. He is one of the best puppy raisers I've ever had. I can trust him completely with them from birth.

 

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Here is Sage with Rowan. She had a drag line on so I could catch her in the house if she was misbehaving. She was annoying Sage, so he walked over, grabbed the line, gave her a correction with the line (quick pop), then make her lie down by stepping on the line. He had her lie there like that for about 20 minutes until she was fully calmed down. Once she was settled, he let her go.

 

2013-09-21103421_zps69cfe658.png

 

2) People forget that socialization does not require touching, it means exposure. In fact, touching (invading space) is often the worst thing you can do. ("He Just Wants to Say Hi") People lose the trust of their dogs by not protecting them from unwanted advances. This leads to dogs who snarl and snap in public when they are uncomfortable with a strange dog or human getting close to them. See my section above on puppy K. A good puppy training class with be in a room with many other breeds so that a pup can learn by exposure. "I am going to see funny looking dogs, but it's ok. My owner won't let anything bad happen."

 

I was raising a pup in 2013 and very clearly remember pissing off a couple with a doodle pup. The doodle pup was dragging the owners closer, flailing and hacking on the end of the leash, leaping into the air and making a huge spectacle. My pup (Rowan) leaned against me and growled. (Do you blame her?) The doodle owners said, "Can she say 'hi'? She is really friendly!" I only said "No, thank you," but they got angry. In their eyes I was the one being rude because I did not agree with their flawed view that all pups want to play with each other. Do you want to get physical with every stranger you meet?

 

The same applies to people. Take your pup out in public. Expose them to people of all ages, races, body types, dress styles. Do not let people touch your pup unless the pup wants to be touched. Get rude if you need to and people don't honor your first request to not touch. Who cares what a stranger thinks? What matters is your lifelong relationship with your dog. My rule is that a person is not allowed to pet my dogs unless my dog makes first contact (leans against them, bumps their offered hand with their head, etc). If my dog does not want to be touched but the person seems reasonable about not trying to get closer, I may offer to have the dog do a trick and let the person toss a treat to them.

 

Sorry for the long post, but I see a lot of pups ruined by bad info about how best to raise and socialize them.

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Those are some good points, Liz. I have no doubt that you're right. Like I said, this play class is heavily supervised and a pup is removed from the play if they do something inappropriate. I think Aed has benefited from having to slow down for the shy or younger puppies, but it makes sense that playing with an adult instead of puppies would be more beneficial. Again, I don't think the class has had any negative impact on him, but I can definitely agree that other setups might be more effective, and that the setup of this class might not be good for a different dog. As it is, Aed has impeccable manners when meeting older dogs and I would trust him with babies and puppies alike (although to be fair, not until he stops jumping up on people).

 

I appreciate the comment about socialization not involving touching all the time, too. That's a good way to think of it. I'll remember that.

 

edit: Sage is definitely the most beautiful and interesting-looking border collie I've ever seen. I've had that opinion for a while, figured I'd share.

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Wow. :( Run, don't walk from that training facility. There is absolutely no way that was appropriate or acceptable behavior on the part of the "trainer."

 

BTW, Liz P Sage is beautiful! As are the puppies. :)

 

Bethany

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At nine weeks, Quinn was all impulse with the attention span of a strobe light.

 

This analogy made me giggle :D . It's too good!

 

I second the play growling. While most of the time I can distinguish Kieran's play growl from an actual snarl, sometimes the two are very close. It's a really fine line. That's why I look more at his body language, like you were doing for Aed.

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I would be so upset if someone did that to one of my dogs. I mean I would just flip if that happened.

 

And thank you Liz for that post. It has a whole lot of info for new puppy owners. Most of those owners probably think they are doing absolutely the best thing for their puppy when they are really doing a lot of damage.

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We did hear back, she was quite concerned and we're going to talk with her tonight (she gave us a bunch of dates when Francois would not be at socialization). I'll let you guys know how it goes.

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Unfortunately, I learned much of it the hard way when I let Sage down. I am so lucky that he forgave me and I was able to save our relationship. I want others to avoid my mistakes.

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We talked to the head trainer, that went okay. She seemed pretty disgusted with Francois and his stupidity. She is going to have a talk with him. I'm happy with that as far as an outcome, honestly. We also figured out that the snarling last class was probably play. However we figured that out by hearing his non play snarl several times this class. He has learned some terrible habits from my parents' dog, and his resource guarding against other dogs is suddenly just awful. I'm sure it's been creeping up on us, (unless it was triggered by adolescence or my parents' dog) but we're only now seeing the full extent. We have some serious work to do. Ah well...As far as the choking incident goes, we're okay, and that's what this thread was about in the first place. Bleh! Bittersweet.

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I'm so relieved to hear you were taken seriously. :)

Reading through, I think that you reacted totally appropriately. I was beginning to worry that you felt you were in any way wrong to pursue the complaint.

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There's no chance that I would let my dog be handled that way without the person who did it being held responsible. However, I don't need him to be fired, pay any vet bills, or have the company smeared om social media in order to be satisfied. I have no problem with conflict, but I don't have quite the temper that some people do, I suppose.

 

By the way, the trainer explained that she thinks he was using the opposition reflex (pulling up to make him pull down so he wouldn't jump up). That's no excuse and she didn't make it out to be one, but at least if it's true then it's just a very misguided training technique, not a random act of violence.

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Absolutely agree with your measured response. :) Personally I feel the same way, some mistake it as self-doubt or permissiveness, but honestly it's a case where I have to live near these people, walk their streets and probably meet them again, and I don't like to crap where I eat, so to speak.

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>>By the way, the trainer explained that she thinks he was using the opposition reflex (pulling up to make him pull down so he wouldn't jump up). That's no excuse and she didn't make it out to be one, but at least if it's true then it's just a very misguided training technique, not a random act of violence.<<

 

What? I have been training dogs for decades and back in the day I had some very harsh instructors. I am familiar with the technique of stringing up a dog and I have never heard opposition reflex as a reason for it. Stringing up a dog is punishment pure and simple. Hanging a youngster until he falls down coughing and gagging is NOT opposition reflex.

 

I am not one to lightly suggest that a person lose their job. And I am not suggesting it now. That is the head trainer's responsibility to decide. I will say that based on what you wrote, Francois has no business being a trainer. I can only hope (without much conviction) that the angry,brutal treatment you described was a one time thing and he won't mistreat additional dogs. And even more importantly, he won't teach owners to believe that is how you treat dogs.

 

Opposition reflex. My opposition reflex to that explanation would be to get as far away from that center as fast as I could. After I told the head trainer why she would never see me or my dog again.

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I've got to say that I agree with Liz.

 

What you described was not a trainer using opposition reflex! That's load of BS.

 

A reasonable application of opposition reflex is stopping when your dog's pulling on the leash so that it doesn't get anywhere with pulling you. What he did was an over-the-top, knee jerk, angry reaction -- I'm-going-to-puinish-you-and-punish-you-good.

 

She may or may not intend it to be rationalizing and defending her employee. But if she condones the use of opposition reflex in that way -- or to that extent(!) -- yeah, I agree about getting out of there ASAP. It's not the kind of training philosophy I'd be on board with.

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p.s. I'm glad you're not invested in some sort of revenge against Francois. I don't think anyone here was suggesting that nor that they were encouraging you to seek revenge.

 

But it is, I think, about deciding what kinds of training methods you want to embrace yourself, and ultimately condone, because if either of them is justifying this as some sort of legitimate training method and you continue to give them your business, whether they use these techniques on your dog or not, than you're tacitly looking the other way.

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Here's my 2 cents on puppy classes-I love them when done correctly and IMHO this one is not correct. Puppy play time is OK in my book but needs to be mixed with a more structured environment, such as being able to call your puppy out of a play session. So the sessions do not last long enough for trouble to start.

 

As for this trainer, well he needs to learn some new methods and I'd run to another trainer ASAP

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I have come into the discussion late....but I, too, wonder in what way this so called trainer is being held responsible for his highly inappropriate action. We have not heard that he apologized or was disciplined in any way, and I think he should be, but that's only my opinion.

 

I think the OP's reaction was appropriate, and certainly more measured and polite than mine would have been. If someone, anyone, did that to one of my dogs I would probably go fully ballistic, body-slam the person and take them down. But I'm the type to turn into a mother tiger if one of my dogs is threatened or mishandled by another person.

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