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Discussion Starter #1
I'm a new trainer and I work at a pet store as a trainer. I have a beginner class that's going well (we're on week 2) and in the class I have a 1 yr Beagle in the class who is really reactive to other dogs. The owner was so embarrassed of her dog (because she was barking so much) that the owner just shut down. What advice can I give her to help with her dog while we're in class? Technically I'm not allowed to give leash corrections or use prong collars but I want to know what I can suggest for correction to stop the dog from barking and reacting. I have the owner working on Watch Me but the dog hasn't perfected it yet. Like I said, it's only really been a week. I only want the best for the dogs in my class and their owners. What should I do or suggest?
 

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I'm not a fan of classes for most dogs until they already have a good bit of training. Then classes are nice for learning to work in distraction. IMO this dog needs a good in-home private trainer who uses positive reinforcement. The dog needs to learn that good things come from the owner, that it's worth his while to pay attention to the owner (b/c the owner dispenses treats for same), and to learn impulse control (in exchange for good things). THEN a class might be appropriate. IMO this situation is unlikely to improve and the dog is just learning to bark a lot.

BTW, I trained my beagles to obedience and agility titles--beagles are WONDERFUL clicker dogs. But they are heavily reinforced by environmental stimuli, so that needs to be taken out of the picture to start with. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I would love to work with them privately but because of my contact at work, I'm not allowed to. So all I can personally offer them is group classes or private in-store training with me.
 

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Consider a stuffed kong if the beagle is able to eat. Also, consider putting up a barrier, like a playpen with a sheet over it so the beagle can be visually seperated from the other dogs and can work its way out at its own pace. Teaching quick fronts/recalls is very helpful to breaking the barking too.

Also, make sure the owner is bringing a slightly tired dog to class. Get rid of the excess energy. I would also suggest that she bring the dog to the pet store early so that the beagle can adjust to the environment seperately from the stress of the other dogs.

Just some quick thoughts...
 

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Ask her to get the dog as tired as possible with a really brisk walk, an hour if possible and on hills if possible.

I'd say use BAT Behavior Adjustment Training, the key will be having enough space to find a non-reactive distance.

Beagles are generally very food motivated, so the owner might consider spending one whole class session simply sitting at a distance and giving small treats continuously (as in, treat for even a second of quiet from the dog)

I dislike any use of corrections for reactivity because it can A)create more excitement and reaction and B)cause the dog to associate the other dogs with the discomfort of the correct and worsen the problem
 

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Discussion Starter #6
That's exactly what I suggested to her. I asked her to exercise the dog for at least 30-45 mins before class and to bring her in early to get out the excitement. What did you mean by quick fronts? Our training ring is pretty small to put up barriers. I can try sitting her next to dogs that completely ignore her. The dog also had some food aggression issues but ever since they started feeding her the way I suggested, they said she's been doing a lot better. She's such a smart and beautiful dog. I think she's a little insecure.
 

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What do you mean by quick fronts: Calling the dog into you so the dog is staring at your knees in the front of your body.

I have a fairly "hot" dog who can get spicey in crowds. When I call him, he comes straight into me and sits. The reason I like this position is because if the dog is looking at me, he can't be looking at anything behind him or even see too much to the sides. So, I call to "front" when I see my dog look tense or if I see something that might set my dog off.

My command is "Fido, Front!" In my world, "come" means get to me. Front means come to me and sit directly in front of me. I reward my dog by spitting a treat from my mouth. That way, when my dog is moving into front, all of his focus in on my face which further drowns out the other stressors.
 

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If the training space is really small and the beagle really is reactive, you might have to face the fact that this is not an appropriate set up for the beagle's needs.

It might be unfair.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Very true! Since i'm new to all of this, I'm still trying to figure out what dogs are acceptable in group classes and which ones are not. My company wants me to get as many training classes as I can but I won't feel right if the owner and dog are not comfortable. I looked up about the BAT training. They have a seminar near me in May. I am thinking about signing up. I want to learn all that I can so that I can help my clients. I appreciate all the advice given.
 

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I had an American Bulldog (I believe around a yr old) in my friday class that really scared me. He tried biting my hand at one point and the owner claimed he didn't like people to touch his head ( I did ask if it was okay if I greeted him). We were on an aisle together and I knelt down a few feet away from the dog, I was not making eye contact, and all of a sudden he lunged at my face. He barely missed me. I asked the owner if he ever tries to bite her and she said, "No, he knows better." But during our group class, I saw him try to go after her hands a few times. He is very strong, reacts to other dogs, and is food aggressive (which she told me after class). I am at a loss with this dog. My boss told her to take my class (She had taken the dog to our two previous trainers. I had no idea why my boss thought I could "fix" this dog knowing that I had even less training than the other two trainers) because our classes are 100% guaranteed. Another trainer at another store said to send her to a Behavior Specialist. That's what i'm considering at the moment. I need to make sure that the other dogs in class are safe first.
 

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Regarding that bulldog...a human aggressive dog should NOT be in a group class. Actually, he shouldn't even be in the pet store. I wonder if he has an actual bite record. If so, your employer (and possibly you) may have a real liability issue on your hands.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I will definitely find out. I wasn't sure if the bite was a warning because I felt that if he wanted to actually get me, he could have. She didn't have the best grip on him. But now, I am scared of that dog (i've never had that happen to me before) and if i'm afraid of him, then he will be able to sense that.
 

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If you are looking for any advice, I would suggest that you find the biggest dog class in your 60 mile radius and take that class with your own dog. Even if your dog is great. Just go and watch and see how everything gets handled. Remember, sometimes seeing what FAILS is just as important as seeing what works.

When I moved to my area, I took a class at all 3 local training centers. After taking all 3, I started offering my own. Now, when people come in and say, "Hey, I tried this with so-and-so," I know what they are talking about. Having taken maybe 50 classes myself, I know what I like and what I hate. The more classes you take, the more likely you are to succeed.
 

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not all people cuddle with their dogs and get all over them as we do for our dogs for this bulldog to find kneeling down at eye level appropriate and normal behavior at them not to be offended,. Main thing I learned some dogs are natural raw they are naturally in tacted for being dogs in dog rules... The rest of our dogs have been altered from our interactions with them.. something to consider in not assuming that owners do what we do with our own. And then judge their dogs because of our own..
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I love that idea! It's going to have to be baby steps right now so I might have to take one class because that's all I can afford. But I think that would be a lot of fun. I know I can always learn more.
 

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If the training space is really small and the beagle really is reactive, you might have to face the fact that this is not an appropriate set up for the beagle's needs.

It might be unfair.
Yup. I recommend referring her to a good private trainer. The APDT site has a very useful trainer search--I assume you are familiar w/ APDT?
 

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The dog needs to start working under it's threshold. Ask them to bring the dog into the store and work on sits, downs, and responding to their name for treats (NO CORRECTIONS) when there are other dogs a few aisles away instead of being shoved into a class with 7 or so other dogs and being expected to know what to do. It's overwhelming, plain and simple. Having the owner reward the dog instantly for looking at another dog BEFORE it reacts will go a long way.

I am currently assisting with two CGC classes on Tuesday nights. The first week of class I spent 40 minutes of our hour long class working with ONE dog and owners. It was very reactive, and did not even make it into the classroom the first night. Tonight is the second night and we will see how it goes. I had them take her into a hallway where she could barely see into the room with all of the dogs, about 20ft away. They'd wait for her to calm down, ask for a sit, reward. Take a step closer, get her to sit, lay down, or touch, and reward. They got as far as the doorway to the classroom, but she was still far too overwhelmed to function properly inside the classroom.

Tonight we are splitting the class up into two groups and we're each teaching the group in separate rooms to pair reactive dogs (there were a few) with very calm dogs, to make it less overwhelming for the few reactive dogs. I don't know if you have an assistant or if this would be possible for you, but it is an idea.
 

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No suggestion for the pitbull. But for the beagle, tell the owner that a beagle cannot sniff a treat a bark at the same time. And, if it is safe to do, ask the dog "Quiet!" and then stick a small, smelly treat under his nose. He'll stop barking while he sniffs. Repeat "Quiet!" and give him the tiny taste (smaller than a dime, but smelly - cheese, liver treats, peanut butter, ???). After you demonstrate this in front of the class, you'll be a hero, they will learn something, and you can further explain it to the owner to repeat continually at home before the next class. You'll have to explain that the owner needs to repeat this process many times for the dog to learn to actually be "Quiet!" on cue... and you may need to explain some of the finer points, such as saying Quiet!, then progressively waiting a fraction of a second or more before giving the treat, to see if the dog understands and is quiet, without needing the treat shoved under his nose.
 
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