"Relax class"

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Postby pitbullmamaliz » February 13th, 2010, 6:06 pm

Sadly, Inara's brain fell out of her head for class today. *sigh* We got there a bit early so Ginger let Inara run around off-leash inside for a few minutes before anybody else showed up. I thought that would help take any edge off, but no luck. She was a barking fool today. Not aggressively, just a "notice me!" bark. Barking and lunging, lunging and barking. I got very frustrated.

Today we worked on relaxed signals from the dogs, Look At That, u-turns (which Inara rocked at, shockingly - Ginger told the class that she wants their dogs to do it as well as Inara!), "go say hi," and then we did something new. Two dogs moved closer together (like 15' apart, with a gate in between), and I would call the name of the dog across from me and toss a treat, then immediately feed Inara, and then the other owner would call Inara's name, toss a treat and feed their dog. Ginger said it's a fantastic exercise because it teaches your dog that when other dogs/owners get close, treats come flying. Unfortunately Inara did NOT do well at this. At all. Barking and lunging, lunging and barking. Not aggressively, though. Ginger thinks she was salty that the other owner didn't throw more treats, and that I was treating another dog. She gets so impatient in class (Inara, not Ginger :wink: ) - if I don't keep up a very fast and steady rate of reinforcement she whips away from me and starts announcing her displeasure to the rest of the class.

I know I shouldn't be frustrated because she did do so well the last couple of classes, but it's hard not to. Part of me really wants to slap her prong on and give her a hell of a correction for barking like that, especially because I'm so much more confident that it's not fear or aggression, but hypermotivation to interact with the other dogs/owners. We have 2 more classes, so I'll keep playing nice.

I'm wondering if perhaps bringing a tug toy or racquetball (her favorite type of ball) into class would help get her attention back on me when she's barking? Ginger has had me toss several treats onto the floor as a distraction, and that's been working really well, but today it wasn't. Who knows, maybe she was just having an off day. Maybe she felt like she owned the place since she was allowed to run around off-leash a bit before class.
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Postby maberi » February 13th, 2010, 7:49 pm

How close are you guys to other dogs when Inara starts losing her sh!t?
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » February 13th, 2010, 7:52 pm

It really just depends on the day and her mood. Each class starts with the dogs in the four corners of the room, I'd say 40-50' away from each other? The last couple classes, the last few minutes she moved us closer - maybe 20' away. Inara doesn't freak out more at the close distance. Actually she's normally better just because at that point we're all just c/t'ing for calm behavior and not moving around. Sometimes I think it's the movement of the other dogs that gets her, sometimes the noises, and sometimes I swear to god she's barking just to hear herself.
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Postby maberi » February 13th, 2010, 8:04 pm

pitbullmamaliz wrote: Sometimes I think it's the movement of the other dogs that gets her, sometimes the noises, and sometimes I swear to god she's barking just to hear herself.


I've never met Inara but based on your descriptions she sounds a lot like Kayden and this is what sets him off. I had him in a CU class on Thursday and the instructor kept asking what is wrong with him? He was being really good but the class was quiet and there wasn't a lot going on and he was in his training zone so to speak. 5 minutes later one of the people in class started playing catch with their dog with a ball and Kayden went ape sh!t. I took him 60 feet away with 3 gates between him and the other dog and he was still through the roof. He couldn't relax, he was squealing like a pig and lunging all over the place. I person walked in the building swinging a water bottle in their hands and Kayden thought it was a tug because he was so wound up from watching the handler and dog play fetch. Sure I could put him on a prong and nail the sh!t out of him but honestly that isn't going to do a dam thing to fix things down the road.

This was only his 2nd class and Inara has only been in a few classes as well. Don't lose faith, things will get better if you keep at it. I know how frustrating it can be when you have a great class the week before and then everything goes to sh!t but that is life. We all have good days and bad days :wink:
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » February 13th, 2010, 8:18 pm

Matt, we have such charming dogs, lol . Kayden really does sound like Inara - once she's ramped up (which can happen so quickly sometimes) she stays there. I know a prong wouldn't really fix it in the long run. It just makes me feel better to talk shit. :giggle:

I cannot imagine how crazy Inara would go if somebody was playing catch or there was a dog moving that quickly in her class. :shock:

I think a lot of it is the fact that it's inside. Her behavior outside is so drastically different than inside, even if the dogs are the same distance (or closer!) and doing the exact same thing. Not sure if it's because she feels trapped inside or if she just feels the need to resource guard the building? Or maybe she's just being a bitch. lol
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Postby tiva » February 13th, 2010, 8:48 pm

pitbullmamaliz wrote:I think a lot of it is the fact that it's inside. Her behavior outside is so drastically different than inside, even if the dogs are the same distance (or closer!) and doing the exact same thing. Not sure if it's because she feels trapped inside or if she just feels the need to resource guard the building? Or maybe she's just being a bitch. lol


Ok, Vanya, Inara, and Kayden must be triplets, separated at birth.

Inside spaces are hyper-stimulating because of all the smells, I think. Imagine that it's like if we went inside a club with 8 dejays blasting loud music, strobe lights flaring, cuties zooming around just outside our line of sight. It would be hard to focus on our boring calculus teacher asking us about some dumb derivative.

I think there should be a law that all pit bull classes be held outside. Who cares about 8 feet of snow and howling winds?

Vanya finally got to meet Miss PLushy. He's in love, the little pervert. At least your dogs can actually be near real dogs, not just stuffed dogs.

And whatever you do, don't jerk Inara's prong. Of course you know this, but if you wanted a sure-fire method to turn brattiness into true aggression, there it is, in one simple step!
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » February 13th, 2010, 8:56 pm

Nancy, I know jerking her prong would just cause a world of problems. But sometimes it feels good to fantasize about it. :wink:

Is it wrong that it makes me happy that Kayden and Vanya are bipolar, too? I guess it's nice to have company, lol . They would probably adore each other.

And I think that classes with reactive dogs should be held in gymnasiums, with one dog at each corner. The trainer can use a megaphone, or we can all do a conference call with our cell phones. I think Inara would be okay then!

And good for Vanya for finding true love! At least Miss Plushy won't talk back!
"Remember - every time your dog gets somewhere on a tight leash *a fairy dies and it's all your fault.* Think of the fairies." http://www.positivepetzine.com"

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Postby maberi » February 18th, 2010, 11:11 pm

Well just so you don't feel too bad Liz I had a really crappy class tonight with Kayden :wink: The training building is HUGE and there were only 4 dogs in the building all spaced out fairly well but 10 minutes into class the handler in the ring next to us pulled out a squeaker ball and starting playing fetch with her dog while yelling and clapping. I can't tell you how frustrating that was. I took Kayden to the opposite end of the building but he was so far gone. I finally decided this was ridiculous (another handler further down had also started working on jumping over jumps with her dog so they were running around clapping too). I took Kayden outside to get him out of the building and I could hear the dam squeaker outside!! I finally gave up and crated him.

I honestly was a bit baffled. We didn't even allow squeaker balls in flyball practice because it was too distracting for some dogs and this was Control Unleashed class :doh:
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Postby tiva » February 19th, 2010, 12:07 am

That sounds like a really frustrating CU class. Didn't you have something else odd with the instructor last week (did she tell you the wrong thing about shaping the LAT command? Or am I misremembering someone else's CU class?). Maybe if you talk with her about her concerns, she'll be able to work on a partial solution (ie, no squeakies? Or better yet, keeping track of all the dogs' thresholds, so no one does anything that makes another dog go over threshold? With 4 dogs in the class, it seems like a teacher could do that. )
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Postby maberi » February 19th, 2010, 12:16 am

She was actually very accommodating once I shared with her my concerns and all squeakers quickly disappeared :wink: My goal with Kayden is a little self control and having him relax a bit more in these situations would be wonderful. If I ever get to the point where I can hold his focus with someone squeaking a ball next to him I'm going to call myself the dog whisperer.
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Postby fenella » February 19th, 2010, 12:18 am

I can (sadly) add Murphy to the "you're not alone" list. :wink:

He is reactive. not lunging, barking reactive, but if he is cornered, scared, etc. He just doesn't get dog-dog interactions at all. Reading all of your posts makes me think so much about Murphy, 'cuz I've certainly been there. Have you figured out which supplement she recommended? I've had some luck with rescue remedy (don't laugh Erin!...the joke on the flyball team is about how many bottles of RR I've given murphy before a particular tournament and that I need to take it myself)
We've worked A LOT on clicking for relaxed behavior. I work it at home, too. I do believe that it changes their perception. It's kinda like smiling to make yourself feel better even if you don't feel like it. Eventually, you start to feel better. Same thing for laying on your side calmly, etc. I even notice a difference in Murphy's breathing patterns.

Sounds like a good class! I can vouch for Erin on the reactive dog in our puppy class with the deaf owner. It is so hard, as she (the owner) doesn't notice the beginning signals like the stare-down contests the dogs get into, and sometimes doesn't notice even the barking/growling until her dog is physically lunging and pulling on her leash.

I don't really know where I'm going with this, as I'm tired...but just some words of encouragement. :beerChug:
I look forward to more posts!
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Postby maberi » February 19th, 2010, 12:26 am

That was a REALLY great comparison. I'm going to have to steal that one

fenella wrote:We've worked A LOT on clicking for relaxed behavior. I work it at home, too. I do believe that it changes their perception. It's kinda like smiling to make yourself feel better even if you don't feel like it. Eventually, you start to feel better
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » February 19th, 2010, 8:08 am

Matt, I shouldn't take pleasure in your crappy class but it does make me feel a smidgeon bit better. :wink: I would think a CU class would be a very calm class, working up slowly to the distractions. That would annoy me.

Fenella (I am so sorry - it's early and I'm having a brain fart and can't remember your name!) the supplement is called l-theanine. I found a human version online for $6 for 2 months worth. If you do a search in the Nutrition section for l-theanine you'll find the post I made about it. Not sure if it's working, but it's certainly not hurting!
"Remember - every time your dog gets somewhere on a tight leash *a fairy dies and it's all your fault.* Think of the fairies." http://www.positivepetzine.com"

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Postby TheRedQueen » February 19th, 2010, 11:06 am

pitbullmamaliz wrote:Fenella (I am so sorry - it's early and I'm having a brain fart and can't remember your name!)


(pssst...it's Jenn)

you could have just guessed and probably gotten it right...:giggle:
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » February 20th, 2010, 3:38 pm

I swear to god that Inara is bipolar. She was AMAZING today (for the most part). Just awesome. She was the first dog in and only barked a couple times as the other dogs came in. We started off playing LAT to get the dogs focused on working. Then Ginger came around and we worked on the dogs calmly saying hello. Inara's getting really good at this - I have her target my hand that's furthest from Ginger (Ginger wants her to learn that moving back allows her to move forward) and then I tell her "go say hi." She races over to Ginger, wiggling all over, gives her some lovin's and then flies back to me for a treat.

We did that a couple times and then we practiced sending the dogs to a lid on the ground with a couple treats, still using the cue "go say hi." Inara does really well with this, too - targeting my hand and then being released to the lid, then coming back to me. And all the dogs were doing this at the same time, and Inara could see them. Ginger still has gates up, but no blankets so the dogs can see through them. All the dogs have come so far from that first week or two when only one dog could move at a time.

Next we worked on "leave it." Ginger had us run through varying levels of difficulty to show us what to do, but told us to take it much slower when we practice at home. Shockingly Inara did very well at this - normally her "leave it" leaves much to be desired. It got to the point where I was dropping the treat right in front of her feet and she wouldn't even look at it.

After that Ginger wanted us to work on teaching the dogs a position they can go to if they get worked up, kind of a safe spot for them. She said the two best options are either behind us or in a down between our legs, our choice. I am doing the down between my legs just because I feel that will give me more control over her. I'm going to have to figure out how to shape this behavior (Erin???) because she did really well when I was luring her, but she just stared at me blankly when I tried to get her there w/o luring.

Then the hard part came. Ginger had brought one of her dogs, a very calm GSD, Pistol, who had been in her crate in the office through class. She wanted us to do a form of CAT - she would bring Pistol out and one dog at a time would be in the room with her. She didn't want us to treat our dogs or anything, just ignore them. As soon as our dog stopped barking and did a look away or calming signal of some type she would move Pistol further away. Pistol was great, very obviously doing her best to avoid looking at our barking dog. Inara didn't do horribly - she barked a TON, but she wasn't lunging and her bark was more of a pattern-type barking. She was doing half-way play bows as she was barking. She would then turn and look at me or sniff the ground and Ginger would move Pistol away one step, and that's the only time that Inara hit the end of the leash - when Pistol was moving away. Then she would back up and bark again, backing up and doing a partial play bow, over and over.

Inara did the most barking out of the dogs for this part, but Ginger said she did well, especially as she wasn't barking aggressively, or growling, or lunging. Ginger said that she really thinks Inara is barking because it just has become such an ingrained habit now. *sigh* I know that's good, and I realize now that Inara isn't aggressive, just hyper-motivated to reach the other dog to play. It's still rude though, but now I'm wondering if I've made it worse by denying her the ability to meet other dogs.

I've really enjoyed this class and I'm bummed that we only have one session left (I think...). Ginger's out of town next week so our next class is in two weeks - I wonder if this will make Inara act like a fool again because there will be so much time in between classes.

I was also talking to Ginger about the Sensible harnesses. I said I had no luck with the Easy Walk harness and I'm doubtful the Sensible would work any better, but I miss having some control over her front end. Ginger is going to let me borrow one of the harnesses to try out to see if I like it before I spend money on it.
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Postby tiva » February 20th, 2010, 3:59 pm

That's great! If you want to continue the class, you can come out here to the frozen tundra of Wisconsin and practice with us. Inara can show Vanya how to calm down.

pitbullmamaliz wrote:I realize now that Inara isn't aggressive, just hyper-motivated to reach the other dog to play. It's still rude though, but now I'm wondering if I've made it worse by denying her the ability to meet other dogs.


Join the club.

pitbullmamaliz wrote:I had no luck with the Easy Walk harness and I'm doubtful the Sensible would work any better, but I miss having some control over her front end. Ginger is going to let me borrow one of the harnesses to try out to see if I like it before I spend money on it.


I like the Sensible harness. It's not a magic bullet, but it provides a little more control than the regular harness or flat collar, but is less suppressing (or reaction-inducing) than the gentle leader. I always backup the harness with a separate connection to his flat collar, because any dog worth her salt can wiggle out of the sens-ible in a millisecond. One leash goes from the sens-ible to my waist. I keep a GL (on a separate leash) in my pocket, just in case I want more control over V's head. For us, the GL only works if I also have a second leash attached to him on the harness or flat collar; otherwise, if he lunges on the GL, it tightens too much around his muzzle and sends him into orbit no matter how quickly I try to release the pressure on his muzzle. When he's also on a second leash, I can keep the GL from getting too tight on his muzzle.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » February 20th, 2010, 7:34 pm

Nancy, if I could make it out to Wisconsin you'd find me camped on your doorstep! lol Inara and Vanya could rough-house all day long and fall in love.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » February 20th, 2010, 8:45 pm

The sweet sweet sight of an exhausted pit bull! lol

Image
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Postby TheRedQueen » February 21st, 2010, 11:16 pm

pitbullmamaliz wrote:*sigh* I know that's good, and I realize now that Inara isn't aggressive, just hyper-motivated to reach the other dog to play. It's still rude though, but now I'm wondering if I've made it worse by denying her the ability to meet other dogs.


Score begs to differ...:giggle:

Seriously...she reminds me a lot of Fenella's Murphy...he can't greet appropriately either. And he's a few months younger than Score, they've been through the same puppy class for all of these years now, met the same dogs in flyball, and Murphy's been at my house a lot...and he STILL doesn't "get it". So I wouldn't beat yourself up about not letting her meet n' greet. Some dogs I just believe can't do social interactions well. lol I have two lab pups that I walk on a daily basis...and they're both rude idiots when they meet dogs...even though they've been around my dogs, my SDiT dogs, my boarding dogs, etc. They're almost a year old and have zero social skills. :|
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » February 22nd, 2010, 8:33 am

Thank you, that does make me feel better. :) Whenever I start to feel bad I just remember Brenda Aloff's eyes going big and her giving me a great big hug when she found out Inara was my first dog. She seemed to think Inara could be a difficult first dog to have. :giggle:

pitbullmamaliz wrote:After that Ginger wanted us to work on teaching the dogs a position they can go to if they get worked up, kind of a safe spot for them. She said the two best options are either behind us or in a down between our legs, our choice. I am doing the down between my legs just because I feel that will give me more control over her. I'm going to have to figure out how to shape this behavior (Erin???) because she did really well when I was luring her, but she just stared at me blankly when I tried to get her there w/o luring.

Did you see this? You're my shaping guru. I'm so much more comfortable with luring but I don't think it will work as well for something like this. I don't want her cue to be me twisting backwards to get my hand down on the ground to treat her in a down position between my legs. Not very pretty or graceful. lol

And I'm pretty confident that Inara wouldn't have hated Score as much if she hadn't been crated when took him into the room. I think that if they'd at least seen each other outside first it wouldn't have been as ugly. We didn't think that one through very well!
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