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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Well the first class was more of an introduction. He did pretty good and seemed to not be bothered TOO much by the other dogs.

Last night was his second class and it didn't go as well. I think maybe I had higher expectations for him maybe? He is so smart and he is (usually) really good at watching me and focusing on me. We were practicing heel, heel to sit, turns and downs. We were all walking with our dogs around the room. Cam decided last night that he was not feeling a lab puppy in the group and every time he would come around he would bark and try to get at him. :redface: The instructor told me that whenever that happens to get him into a sit and of course that didn't work.

He is really food motivated but that seems to be working against us if that's possible?? He was too interested in the treats and would jump up while we were walking around to get to it. So I think I'm going to practice this week w/o treats. When we are at home he knows how to "sit" and "lay down". And he always does this when asked with or w/o a treat. But he would NOT do this last night in class. I know he is VERY reactive and sensitive (that's the best word I can come up with to describe it) to things around him. I guess it's my fault for not getting him into classes sooner but I thought what I was doing with him was enough.

Sorry for the long post/rant. We are going to practice, practice, practice this week. I know he can do this and I just need be patient and consistent. All I kept wondering last night was, am I going to be the first person in one of her classes to breakdown?! That would be so embarassing!! Plus he is the oldest dog in the class, the rest are puppies. I'm worried they're all thinking that I am a horrible dog-parent. I think way too much!!
 

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Don't worry. There are ups and downs and good and bad days. Think of the dog like a 5 year old in kindergarten. Some days the kid behaves fine, other days they are tired or hungry or just annoyed and throw tantrums and are distracted by everything. I think older dogs can be a little harder than puppies for that kind of class as the older ones already have their bad habits in place :)

Part of class is to help a reactive/distracted dog learn to obey commands in a distracting environment. So it is to be expected that he will have to make progress on that. Home is easy, outside is harder. Training has to happen in all kinds of locations and situations; try taking him to a distracting place but not one with dogs. The sidewalk in front of WalMart for example as it is busy generally but few dogs around. Try outside in your front yard and back yard. Train at a friend's house. Etc.

I think Luna (the pit foster) took about 4 weeks before she stopped howling and barking and reacting to the other dogs in class (for the first 15-20 minutes of each class, and then I could get her focused on me enough to really train)
Some things that helped were:
time- simply getting used to being at the training facility and getting used to the other dogs
exercise- I would tire her little butt out before class with a minimum of a brisk one-hour walk and then a short session of weight pulling once we got to the facility
the right tools- I found she worked best on a body harness. A flat collar wasn't enough and she would choke herself and a prong collar got her too hyped up and she'd strain at it till it hurt her neck. Some people used flat collars, a few prongs and some the Newtrix head collar (great for strong pullers)
And then she was great for 6 weeks and one week completely forgot everything and howled her fool head off :) It happens.

Continue practicing with treats- you want to strongly reinforce your commands and you need the treats right now to overcome the distraction factor. But be very insistent that he gets no treats unless all four feet are on the ground. A clicker might help you here as you can use a clicker to mark the right behavior and then grab a treat from a treat bag behind your back. Out of sight, out of mind a little bit.

You may need to be further away from the other dogs in the class. If he is so focused on another dog that you cannot get a SIT with a treat, then try backing away until you can. Then slowly over a class or two, move back into the thick of things.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes, he was definitely acting like a bratty little kid! I have been taking him to day care (classes are at the same place) on days we have class. I was hoping he would get tired out and be easier to work with. I don't know if this is working. He still has so much extra energy. No matter what I can't get rid of it it seems. He's like the Energizer bunny! :laugh:

The trainer suggested that when he gets distracted by this other dog to do an "about turn" and go the other way. The problem with this is, the group is walking in a circle around the room and if I do that I will be walking smack dab into who is behind me. I guess I'll have to figure something out. The weird thing is that before class we were sitting down and Cam was letting this other dog sniff him and was being polite. I guess like you said, he was just in a bratty mood.

I was worried I was giving him too many treats. I had been keeping them in my right hand that was holding the leash and he was on my left side. Keeping them behind my back is a good idea I am going to try. I got a little bag that buckles on to a belt. I also think I am going to use small cut up pieces of cheese instead of the richer training treats I was using. He has a sensitve stomach and all those treats when he's worked up like that will probably lead to nothing good.

Thanks for all of your advise Shell! I really appreciate it. When we get home tonight we are going to practice. The good thing is though, he has been much better on his leash. So that is a good thing. I know he can do this, I just have to be patient and work hard with him. Thanks again!!!!
 

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I was worried I was giving him too many treats. I had been keeping them in my right hand that was holding the leash and he was on my left side. Keeping them behind my back is a good idea I am going to try. I got a little bag that buckles on to a belt. I also think I am going to use small cut up pieces of cheese instead of the richer training treats I was using. He has a sensitve stomach and all those treats when he's worked up like that will probably lead to nothing good.
If the dog is food motivated enough to work for his regular dry dog food, that's what I suggest using for the longer training sessions and classes. Put them in a baggie with a few pieces of the cut up cheese and a few pieces of cut up chicken or other meat. Then, the kibble will pick up some of the smell (making it more interesting) and he will randomly get rewarded with more awesome treats which will help keep him motivated and responding to the kibble also. You can also try another flavor of the same brand of food you normally feed- fish based ones are nice and smelly if you normally feed a beef or chicken type. It won't be quite as rich as the cheese or training treats.

You can do an "about turn" that is more like a loop out and back; as in turn the other direction but stepping to the side also and then slip back into the circle in between different dogs than before. We didn't do any circling like that in Luna's class; when we practiced walking by other dogs and greeting we broke up into pairs (and then mixed up the pairs at different classes) so there was plenty of room for turning or moving away.

The day care might be hyping him up mentally enough that he isn't slowly down; it isn't that he isn't tired but that he's overstimulated. When you get to the day care before the class, try taking him outside or to a quiet area and doing a few minutes of focus work. Just ask him to sit in front of you and look at you. Give one piece of kibble at a time as long as he is focused on you and sitting nicely. Try that for a couple minutes to get an overstimulated brain under control.
 
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