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Sorry this is so long. In short, I had mixed results and really need the help of the forum to make a tough decision.

I've posted before about my 2 5-month old mini schnauzer pups. I sent them off to a 2 week board and train program. They didn't progress very well, so they ended up staying 3 1/2 weeks. Finally, the trainer suggested I bring them home and let them mature for a few weeks before bringing them back. Now that I have them home, I'm completely confused about whether to send them back or not. One of them is doing well with her leash training and sit command. House training, not so good, but I take ownership of that. She's a very bright dog and eager to please, so I believe I can complete her training on my own.

The other pup is a different story. She's very skiddish and tends to shut down mentally and poop involuntarily when she's scared. She does this when she's bathed, placed in the car, and placed on a leash. She seemed to be more skiddish when I brought her home from the trainer, though I honestly don't think the trainer hurt her in any way. He said she did great with the socialization and housebreaking, but he made no progress at all with leash training or any commands.

They are littermates. The first week they were crated separately, but side-by-side. The trainer felt the problem child was shutting down during the leash training sessions due to separation from the other. A week into the training he separated them physically (crates and playtime) and noted no difference at all in her behavior. She played great with the other dogs during the socialization training, but still got nowhere with the leash training. In fact, he tried putting the leash on her and dropping it, and she'd run and play with the other dogs like it wasn't even there. The minute he picked up the leash she'd poop and turn into a statue. Yesterday, I placed a leash on her, dropped it, and let her watch me walk her sister. She never moved for 10 minutes, and pooped in place. It breaks my heart. Off leash, she's a wild indian, running and jumping and nipping.

The trainer said since his original training method didn't work, he'd like to try clicker training with her when I bring them back. My question is, would you send them back? Should I send both or just the one? This trainer came highly recommended and has a waiting list for his board & train school. I know he has the skills, but I can't help but worry about the well being of my skiddish dog.

I'd really appreciate some input. I'm about to drive myself crazy trying to make this decision. They're supposed to go back on May 1st.
 

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Socialization is all about confidence building. It can be a slow process but, confidence grows as dogs mature and as they learn new coping skills. But, it's much more than dog-on-dog socialization....it's being comfortable in new places, getting over the fear of strange sights, sounds, kids, people, etc.....that's where the skittishness comes in here.
It's crucial that you continue the exposure to these things and help her build confidence and trust. The trainer can definately help but, this needs to be done daily. Here's a simple exercise to build confidence.....open an umbrella in the living room. She's going to be very cautious about it....let her investigate on her own...don't encourage or command her. Praise and reward for showing curiosity and boldness when she moves closer to it.
 

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The only reason I'd consider sending her back is if you feel the trainer can accomplish something with her that you cannot. Do you feel this way? At this point you have some idea of the trainers skills, abilities and techniques and how well they work with your dog.
 

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The only reason I'd consider sending her back is if you feel the trainer can accomplish something with her that you cannot.
I agree. Plus, working with her will help strengthen your bond with her.

I'm sure the boarding/training school is good, but it requires adjustment because she's going from place to place. This is unsettling by itself.

ETA: Would the trainer consider coming to your house? If I were you, I'd look into an option where the trainer comes to you, can observe her in her home surroundings, and can work with you with this dog.

Good luck with whatever you decide.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The only reason I'd consider sending her back is if you feel the trainer can accomplish something with her that you cannot. Do you feel this way?
I agree. Plus, working with her will help strengthen your bond with her. ...Would the trainer consider coming to your house?
Thank you all for your replies. I sent them off for training because I didn't think I could train them myself. After working with them yesterday, I may have been wrong. I just needed to see a tiny bit of progress to gain confidence in myself, and them, and I got that and more!

I had a great day with Lena, the difficult one. She sat on command for me several times during our one-on-one session. She also walked on a leash, after a rocky start, but she did it! Granted I had the other one on leash walking with us too, but I was so proud of her! It's almost like a switch was flipped and she turned into a different dog.

I think that's what we all needed - a little confidence boost! If they continue to progress with me training them, then no, I don't think the trainer can accomplish anything that I cannot.
 

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Just briefly it sounds to me like your puppy is timid with people but not with dogs. This would indicate to me that she just is not well socialized with people (starting with you).

If you could work with her without the leash and without the other dog in the room with you, you might find a difference. One thing I have noted works to get a timid dog to play with a toy (for instance) is to tie the toy to a rope and then drag the toy past the dog. MOST will chase it or grab it. Your dog may be too timid.. but if you can use a toy she hs played with the other dog with, it MIGHT work.

Another idea to get her started would to be in the same room with her (no other dog) and just sit in a chair in the room with her. Randomly and slowly toss treats to her. Use something delectible (cheese, steak, chicken.. liver.. REALLY good stuff). I would take a good book and just ignore her.. no eye contact or anything.. just sit there and randomly toss treats while reading. If an hour a day for 5 days shows NO improvement you will at least have finished the book you are reading (check out www.dogwise.com for books.. you will probably find several good ones to read while sitting there! :D)

IF it works, next introduce the leash, but do not put it on the dog. Just put it on the floor and go thru the same routine tossing the treats close to the leash...

This process may take awhile, so figure on a lot of reading.
 

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I think that's what we all needed - a little confidence boost! If they continue to progress with me training them, then no, I don't think the trainer can accomplish anything that I cannot.
Nice job! Don't worry about making mistakes.....training is more art than science and the bond you create with your dogs is even stronger when you do it yourself.
One tip: you'll have days when thiings don't go right....it happens. Take a break and see if you can figure out why things went wrong instead of trying to force it. The folks here on Dog Forums might have some great insight/suggestions when you run into a wall.
 

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Just briefly it sounds to me like your puppy is timid with people but not with dogs. This would indicate to me that she just is not well socialized with people (starting with you).
It depends on the dog. :D My in-laws brought their mini schnauz over the other day. It was the first time for all of them to meet (humans and dogs). Lena was equally as timid with the new dog as she was the new humans, but she warmed up to everyone within about 5-10 minutes. I was very proud of her.

One tip: you'll have days when thiings don't go right....it happens. Take a break and see if you can figure out why things went wrong instead of trying to force it.
Thanks for that. I know yesterday was an exceptional day and I'm very, very grateful for it. On the other hand, I'm telling myself to be prepared for a relapse. I don't know who has less patience, me or Lena. :D
 
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