I had the boys "evaluated" today... (very long)

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Postby amazincc » November 21st, 2009, 6:28 pm

I made an appointment w/a trainer a few weeks ago, and he came out today to meet w/me and the dogs.
Talk about an eye opener and a half. :shock: :neutral:
Apparently we have some issues I wasn't aware of, and I feel so stupid now (to put it mildly)... after Mick passed I had promised myself never to screw up another dog ever again.

The reason for contacting a trainer in the first place was my intention to get Sepp his CGC certificate, and I knew that this would take some serious work to achieve much better obedience on his part. He's pretty much all over the place all the time, and I know that's my fault. My "training" is sporadic and unfocused (at best) right now.
Because of some fairly recent major health issues on my part we spend most of our time at home and in the yard now. I'm not able to leash-walk the dogs for long distances or long periods of time. I also don't drive, so they don't get to experience a lot of the "outside world", other than trips to the vet.
We do spend a lot of time in the yard, playing and "exercising", but that's not the ideal environment to prepare for getting CGC-certified, and I realized that.

Anyway... the trainer came out... and he was in a wheelchair. That was a little unexpected.
We talked for a few minutes, about dogs in general and Pit Bulls specifically (he owns two himself), and John (the trainer) seems very knowledgable and experienced w/the breed. I was immediately comfortable around him, since his "philosophy" mirrors just about everything PBT stands for when it comes to living w/Pits. He also has pics of his Pit girls in his wallet, and some videos of them doing obedience on his cell phone, so, yeah, I really liked him. lol
He asked me for a detailed history of each dog.
We talked about Mick and his issues at some length, and how I (mis)handled that whole situation.

He then asked to meet the dogs on-leash, one at a time. I brought out Faust first (since I thought he is my "problem child", being a little leery of the "unknown" still, and all that)... and Faust was awesome.
A little cautious for about 30 seconds, but once he sniffed the wheelchair and decided it wasn't dangerous, he warmed right up to John. He made great eye contact when John called him by name, obeyed some commands (sit and down), and was a folded-in-half wagging butt every time he was petted. :D
Faust was very focused and surprisingly calm through the whole process.
John thinks Faust will be very receptive to obedience training and thinks we can accomplish that w/lots of positive re-enforcement. He pegged Faust for being extremely food-motivated right away... and this is very, very true. lol

So, on to Sepp... I brought him out, and he was his usual "all-over-the-place-crazy-self"... also very distracted by everything beyond the fence - other dogs barking, people going by, etc. Not sure about the wheelchair at all, a little overly excited about meeting John (which I mistook for him wanting to be friendly, of course), some grumbly "talking" (which he does w/me at times also, but I find it kinda cute), no eye contact, no focus on anything or anyone in particular for any length of time... he did sit for a few seconds when John asked me to give the command, but as soon as I praised him for it he was up and all over the place again. John spent considerably less time actively engaging w/Sepp, and I did notice that he never tried to pet him at all. After just observing him for a while (and Sepp acting like a boob, mostly) he then asked me to bring Sepp back in the house so we could discuss a training plan.
I thought it went well, considering. :oops: :oops: :oops:
Uhm... not.
John thinks that Sepp is somewhat anxious/neurotic but very confident in himself. This, apparently, could become a huge problem.
John said that Sepp comes across as "Yeah, I'm nervous - but I'm not afraid of you!" He explained it to me like this: If Faust got a serious leash-correction, for example, he would maybe cower or roll over, and he would accept it and learn from it. Faust is a definite people-pleaser.
If Sepp was corrected in the same manner he might very well retaliate and "turn" on the handler/trainer... not necessarly by biting, but it's a very real possibility. Not w/me, because Sepp and I seem very bonded (and, honestly, that never even entered my mind at all in the first place) - but Sepp *could* express himself towards strangers or perceived threats/challenges that way. At the very least he could come across as very intimidating/scary if he ever chooses to do so... and he (Sepp) knows it.
John said that he didn't pet Sepp because Sepp was being so pushy, that his hackles were slightly raised, and that his "grumbling" was actually meant to intimidate John (and the wheelchair). He assured me that he's not afraid of Sepp at all (and also not afraid of being bitten, since that comes w/the territory when training dogs), but that Sepp needs time to relax around him so they can establish mutual trust and respect.
John thinks that Sepp exhibits all the signs of becoming DA, therefor he would be a very poor canditate for passing his CGC.
Sepps anxiety/crazy behavior stems mostly from being bored/frustrated, caused by lack of exercise and physical/mental stimulation. Sepp needs way more other activities to tire himself out than playing/running around in the yard for a couple of hours each day.
Sepp isn't in the least bit fear aggressive, but he will face a "challenge" head-on and w/confidence. Possibly w/his teeth... at the very least by throwing his weight around (literally) and/or growling.

I was NEVER so dumbfounded in all my life, I swear.
How did I not see all that, and a complete stranger can spell it out to me in no uncertain terms after meeting my dogs for the first time?

For now Johns plan is -
to seriously train both dogs in basic obedience off-leash. This will be done in my yard/around my house on a weekly basis (twice a week, if need be) for 2 hours each time, and I was promised tons of "homework" which I need to do daily.
Sepp needs to wear a prong collar, just to get used to the idea of wearing one. I'm not to use it for corrections/anything else at all at this time. Sepp will need to warm up to John at first - small meet-and-greet sessions until this is accomplished, before any official hands-on training by John takes place.
Faust is good to go as is, since he already walked next to Johns wheelchair w/out any hesitations.
John is going to look into finding some more challenging activities/exercises for Sepp that we can do at home. He reminded me that "a tired dog is a happier dog", and I need to do whatever it takes to accomplish that.

NOT AT ALL what I expected from this free evaluation, but a wake-up call for sure.
When John left I was in tears.
I cannot believe that I so completely misjudged Sepps behavior, and I'm somewhat horrified at myself.
"Good intentions" my ass... mine seem to be totally counter-productive. :sad2:

On the other hand... I'm hopeful, since I really do like this trainer and I am willing to put in the work to get Sepp under control.

Still... how the f*** did I let this happen again??? <--- (Rhetorical question... no need to answer it.)
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Postby ArtGypsy » November 21st, 2009, 7:33 pm

:cry: :cry:
Oh Christine..........((hug))............PLEASE don't be so hard on yourself; and I, in no way think (rhetorically spoken or not) that you didn't 'let' this happen.

Get ANOTHER evaluation. (if there's other trainers available in the area).
He may be a great GUY......a Great Trainer..........But youjustdont know, ya know??? :|
Maybe Sepp doesn't do well with this guy, but may do well with a different evaluation!!

After reading this, it does make me wonder a bit about Dar, as he 'grumbles' ((talks)) back when he's really annoyed, and puts his mouth over my hand if he doesn't like me pullin on him in some way.... :shock:

He doesn't do well 'calming down' right away when people come by to 'see him'...he's all over the place and hard for me to manage. If the people end up sitting down and ignoring him, he does much better..but he just can't handle the focus being on him.
((and yeah-to-the Hackles being Raised anytime he encounters anyone new...)) :?

Okay.
This isn't supposed to be about me.
I'm just not equipped with enough to give you any other insights.....I wish I had more for you.............(((((((((hug)))))))))

Just don't let this get you in the dumps............. :groupHug:
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Anger that things are the way they are.
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Postby Ino » November 21st, 2009, 7:37 pm

I am not sure what to say as far as the training part goes because I am far from experienced or an expert in the training area, but I will say that you should not beat yourself up over not recognizing certain "issues" that were brought up. It is always easier to see for someone who is looking from the outside in. The great thing is that you are willing to work with a professional trainer and you are obviously receptive to what can be done to make changes for the better. Progress will take place because you want it to and are willing to do the work in order to make it happen. I am sure I would get a real eye opener if I hired a trainer for Ino (which I plan to do when my financial situation improves and after I find a trainer I trust- I worked for a trainer for 2 days around here and was disgusted with the techniques used and quit and refused to use his methods on Ino). I am sure there are a lot more issues that I need to work on with Ino than those that I am aware of but the key is being receptive and taking the steps to improve the issues. You are doing what you need to although there may be issues that will need to be addressed, you are working towards that. Your dogs look very happy in the pictures you post and I am sure that your bond with them will get better rather than worse- so that is awesome. Congrats with Faust doing better than expected. With the right guidance and your determination, you will get to where you want to be with them!!! :D
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Postby amazincc » November 21st, 2009, 8:30 pm

ArtGypsy wrote:Get ANOTHER evaluation. (if there's other trainers available in the area).

The thing is... I REALLY like this guy. I don't think he said what he said to make me feel bad or anything - he gave an objective and unbiased opinion based on what he saw. :neutral:
Truth be told, if Sepp wasn't my dog and I didn't live w/him I most likely wouldn't think certain behaviors are "cute" either... does that make sense?
I wouldn't want to be barreled into/physically bullied or get "talked to" by someone elses Pit Bull (or any breed), and it would make me very uncomfortable if I didn't know the dog, I think.

I'm just used to the behaviors, and I never gave it much thought of what it *could* mean, or turn into.
I tend to make excuses for my dogs because I love them... but I'm not doing them any favors that way.
My county is very strict w/enforcing the "one-strike-and-you're-dead" rule... just the perception of Sepp ever being threatening could get him euthanized.
John asked me several times if Sepp has ever bitten anyone (or attempted to)... and that certainly woke me up. :shock: :o
He didn't ask that question about Daisy or Faust, so... he had to have seen something in Sepps behavior that made him ask.

I SO want to be a responsible and competent Pit Bull owner, but the whole concept seems to elude me somehow.
I am so mad at myself for starting to repeat history. Dammit.

And, yes, I'm gonna work my ass off for the next 12 weeks of training (we start on the 5th). I plan on learning so much that my brain might explode. :wink:

I'm going to post about each session (and hopefully, progress) in this thread, because I can't be the only one who sucks at reading/addressing/correcting certain (bad) behaviors... right???? :? :oops:
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Postby amazincc » November 21st, 2009, 8:35 pm

Oh, and it totally and completely floored me that the devil puppy seems to be very well adjusted and easy to work with, but YAY FAUST!!! :D :D :D
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Postby plebayo » November 21st, 2009, 9:11 pm

Still... how the f*** did I let this happen again??? <--- (Rhetorical question... no need to answer it.)


I don't feel like you let this happen. I do NOT think that you produce bad dogs.

From what he said to me it just sounds like you have in your life time had dogs find you that are harder to handle than your average joe goof balls. You didn't give Seppel his personality, he was BORN that way. Just as Faust was born the way he is. This is NOT your fault.

And you aren't "letting it happen" because you're getting a trainer involved to help you and your dogs out.


Don't be so hard on yourself! I know where you live, don't make me come over there! :mrgreen:
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Postby hey21jude » November 21st, 2009, 10:03 pm

:hug3: ditto to what the others have said. Don't beat yourself up. You obviously care enough to put the time and effort it will take to give them what they need. I'm sure you'll do great :)

and please do updates on the sessions...I would be very interested to read about the progress
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Postby mnp13 » November 21st, 2009, 11:15 pm

amazincc wrote:John thinks that Sepp exhibits all the signs of becoming DA, therefor he would be a very poor canditate for passing his CGC.

This makes no sense to me. We have two dog aggressive dogs here that have their CGC's and both also passed therapy dog certifications. Being dog aggressive has nothing at all to do with being able to pass the CGC, the only part of the CGC that has to do with another dog is when you talk to the other person who has a dog with them. If your dog can control itself in the presence of another dog then you're fine. It doesn't have to have a play date. :|
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Postby Hundilein » November 21st, 2009, 11:34 pm

mnp13 wrote:
amazincc wrote:John thinks that Sepp exhibits all the signs of becoming DA, therefor he would be a very poor canditate for passing his CGC.

This makes no sense to me. We have two dog aggressive dogs here that have their CGC's and both also passed therapy dog certifications. Being dog aggressive has nothing at all to do with being able to pass the CGC, the only part of the CGC that has to do with another dog is when you talk to the other person who has a dog with them. If your dog can control itself in the presence of another dog then you're fine. It doesn't have to have a play date. :|


I was thinking the same thing. Your dog doesn't have to love other dogs to pass the CGC.
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Postby amazincc » November 21st, 2009, 11:34 pm

mnp13 wrote:
amazincc wrote:John thinks that Sepp exhibits all the signs of becoming DA, therefor he would be a very poor canditate for passing his CGC.

This makes no sense to me. We have two dog aggressive dogs here that have their CGC's and both also passed therapy dog certifications. Being dog aggressive has nothing at all to do with being able to pass the CGC, the only part of the CGC that has to do with another dog is when you talk to the other person who has a dog with them. If your dog can control itself in the presence of another dog then you're fine. It doesn't have to have a play date. :|


I think that's what John meant... Sepp definitely lacks self-control overall and in a major way right now. Getting him certified in a couple of months (as I *planned* :rolleyes2: :oops: ) would definitely set him up to fail.
Poorly para-phrased on my part.

If his obedience becomes bomb-proof at some point I am definitely going to revisit that idea.
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Postby mnp13 » November 22nd, 2009, 11:42 am

Bomb proof obedience is a good goal, and it's a goal that everyone has... as in everyone who competes in obedience trials at national and international levels.

You don't need "bomb proof" obedience to pass the CGC, or even the CD actually. You need reliable obedience, well, not even that really. For the CGC you just need basic manners. Seriously.

Teaching Sepp a solid attention command would take care of the meet-n-greet and you'll be fine with that part. The rest is basic obedience and manners. I'm not saying to just be flip about it and breeze into it, or just treat it like it's nothing. You should take it seriously, as you obviously are. But also don't freak about it.

If you look at pictures of me working with Riggs, you'll see that he watches me when we heel. When we stop, and he sits, he also watches me. When he's being a pain on leash (or off), I call him back to heel and he goes into a sit and looks up at me - that breaks his focus on whatever he's distracted by.

BUT all that said... you have a trainer to work with... and that person is the person that is "in the flesh" so to speak, and though all of us LOVE to discuss and WANT to discuss, internet discussion does not replace being there hands on! So, keep telling us about what's going on, and we'll keep telling you what we think, but remember that his views are probably always going to be different because he's really there.
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Postby madremissy » November 22nd, 2009, 12:25 pm

It is very interesting to me what another person says about our dogs. I think it is a good thing to have a someone from the outside looking in and giving their opinion. Sarah told me some stuff about mine that I really didn't realize. I would always welcome different views.
I think you are doing a good thing Christine. Just take it slow.
I am working on Kinzyl now to get past the umbrella part. That is the part I know we would fail at. :rolleyes2:
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Postby call2arms » November 22nd, 2009, 12:54 pm

You're not repeating history, Christine, you simply have one dog that may take more advantage of a situation than most. If you did a crappy job, Faust would be on the same path, and he clearly isn't.

I agree, even though you really like this guy, to get another evaluation. Not that he's wrong, but just to make sure it's not one uncomfortable reaction on Sepp's part that made him misjudge him or something. Maybe he is right - especially since you seem to be surprised but also "agree" with him for some things. But another person may bring a totally different light on the situation.
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Postby furever_pit » November 22nd, 2009, 1:07 pm

Christine, I think it is great that you are working with a trainer. Who knows, maybe it will be enough to give you "the bug". lol

I think you will do great with the dogs and the training and I think you ought to stop being so hard on yourself. I have one dog here who acts similarly to Sepp and the whole time I was reading your post I was giving him the evil eye. haha.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » November 22nd, 2009, 1:09 pm

Missy, the umbrella is in the temperament test, not the CGC. :wink:

Christine, has Sepp ever seen somebody in a wheelchair before? If not, that may explain his reaction as well. Like Michelle said, we're not there to see it, but I've just become so leery of trainers that I would also absolutely get a 2nd opinion.
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Postby LaylaWoobie » November 22nd, 2009, 1:15 pm

pitbullmamaliz wrote:Missy, the umbrella is in the temperament test, not the CGC. :wink:



There doesn't have to be an umbrella in the CGC, but there definitely can be.

There's a "distractions" item in the CGC test. When I test dogs, I do one visual and one auditory/noise. I usually use an umbrella because its a "normal" distraction - something you'd see while you're out on a walk. They encourage using strange distractions during training, but for testing it should be something they'd actually see.

For the noise, I usually throw a chair. All distractions are presented 15 feet away from the dog/handler

Test 9: Reaction to distraction

This test demonstrates that the dog is confident at all times when faced with common distracting situations. The evaluator will select and present two distractions. Examples of distractions include dropping a chair, rolling a crate dolly past the dog, having a jogger run in front of the dog, or dropping a crutch or cane. The dog may express natural interest and curiosity and/or may appear slightly startled but should not panic, try to run away, show aggressiveness, or bark. The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise it throughout the exercise.
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Postby amazincc » November 22nd, 2009, 1:21 pm

pitbullmamaliz wrote:Missy, the umbrella is in the temperament test, not the CGC. :wink:

Christine, has Sepp ever seen somebody in a wheelchair before? If not, that may explain his reaction as well. Like Michelle said, we're not there to see it, but I've just become so leery of trainers that I would also absolutely get a 2nd opinion.


They aren't the same??? :shock: :oops:
I *thought* I had read the requirements for the CGC, and I definitely remember an umbrella being mentioned.
God, I SUCK at this... LMAO

Liz, no... wheelchair was a huge surprise to all of us. You'd think a person would mention it, just in case... right? lol
John said that he could tell that Sepp was iffy about the chair.
Demon baby Faust... he took it all in stride.
Sepp was still being iffy about it after a good 30 minutes.
I had totally expected the opposite.
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Postby madremissy » November 22nd, 2009, 1:32 pm

Doesn't matter to me what test the umbrella comes in, I just need her to get past it. I have to open it up and then use it. It is the actual opening the thing that freaks her out. She barks at it.
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Postby TheRedQueen » November 23rd, 2009, 4:21 pm

John and I both agree that this is NOT a fair evaluation for a dog that has never been around wheelchairs. John is pissed about this guy now. There are TONS of dogs in flyball and puppy class that aren't problem children overall, but are terrified of his scooter. Many of them take hours of time around him before they're comfy with him.

I'm not happy with the "we can use positive reinforcement" with one and wants to put a prong collar on the other...seems all over the place in terms of training. (Yes, I know trainers should have many tools in their toolbox...yadda, yadda, yadda...) :neutral:

And yeah, my little crazy girl got her CGC despite being HA. ;)
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Postby amazincc » November 23rd, 2009, 5:33 pm

TheRedQueen wrote:John and I both agree that this is NOT a fair evaluation for a dog that has never been around wheelchairs. John is pissed about this guy now. There are TONS of dogs in flyball and puppy class that aren't problem children overall, but are terrified of his scooter. Many of them take hours of time around him before they're comfy with him.


Hmmm. That assessment could be my fault then... I mentioned that Sepp is not easily rattled by anything (which he truly isn't), so maybe John misunderstood or misinterpreted the whole situation.
He did acknowledge that it will take quite a while before Sepp may be comfortable w/the wheelchair and before he himself would do any hands-on anything w/Sepp.
I want to see how the second meeting goes before I make a final decision. Obviously, if dog and trainer don't click at all, or Sepp is THAT uncomfortable around him again I will have to rethink my approach.

I'm not happy with the "we can use positive reinforcement" with one and wants to put a prong collar on the other...seems all over the place in terms of training. (Yes, I know trainers should have many tools in their toolbox...yadda, yadda, yadda...) :neutral:

No worries... I can't even get the damned thing on him, because I can't close it. :oops: lol
Faust is very. very food motivated... as well as allergic to metal, most leathers, and so on. I think that's the reason John decided against a prong for him...???
Sepp spits out treats when he is excited/anxious, and his focus was pretty much non-existent... he wouldn't even do a reliable "sit" (which he does for me, usually), and his size/weight alone makes it hard to control him sometimes... maybe that's the reason for the prong???

And yeah, my little crazy girl got her CGC despite being HA. ;)

Sepp isn't HA at all, so I'm not concerned about that. :)
I think the trainer was/is a little apprehensive about his self-control around other dogs, as am I right now. W/some obedience and good manners... who knows? Getting the dogs CGC-certified eventually is definitely one of my long-term goals.


Thanks for all the input, everyone.
The trainer was here for a little over two hours, so it's hard to cram everything in one post. What I did post about is the short version and the things/comments that stood out to me personally afterwards.
I do agree that living with - and really knowing - a dog is very different from meeting/evaluating one for the first time. Sepp was excellent w/my 70-year old mother when her and my brother visited for 3 weeks recently. He hasn't shown any misgivings/worriesome behaviors towards anyone who has come into our house/yard - except my creepy neighbor.
So, the welfare of the dogs is always my first priority, and I don't plan on just handing them over to a trainer while hoping for the best. :wink:
If, at any time, stuff happens that I don't like or agree with - or if the dogs (mainly Sepp) are extremely uncomfortable around John - I would not hesitate to speak up, end the session, or even look for someone else altogether to help me.

Like I said - we'll see how meeting 2 goes in two weeks, and I'll go from there.
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