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Yesterday a trainer came to the house to work with Preston. He yapped his little head off when she came in. She offered him treats when he quieted down and turned her back tomhim when he was a monster. She said he has a lot of fear and he did a lot of barking and then backing up when she approached. (even after she was here for 2 hour!) I thought he'd get used to her and calm down. His barking stopped but he didn't lilke her at all. I have to say she was a very nice person who loves dogs and all of her training was positive reinforcement.

We did a lot of talking about dog behavior and she taught me some things to work on: 1. Call his name, put out hand and say "touch", click and give treat when he touches my hand with his nose.2. Put finger between my eyes, call his name and click and treat when he looks at me. 3. Massage his entire body so he gets used to my touch. She had to turn her back while I was doing these things because he wouldn't do anything with her looking.

This morning when he came out of his crate he wasn't all kissy and happy to see me llike he usually is. When I wanted to bring him downstairs he wouldn't come near me. He did what he did to her: barked and backed up when I approached. He did the same thing to my daughter, who he normally runs up to with lots of kisses. I'm not saying he was a perfect angel before yesterday, but today he's a mess. I've always known he has trust issues and I do believe the trainer when she says he was not properly socialized (he was 6 months when I got him). She thinks I need to have small groups of people over to the house a lot (starting with her here to supervise). I really don't think that's practical, and the fact that he doesn't respond to her makes me wonder how she's going to control him with visitors here.

Here are my questions: The trainer is supposed to come back. Is this a good idea? She is full of great training knowledge, but my dog doesn't seem to respond to her. (I used a trainer for another dog years ago and he could get that dog to do anything. It was amazing-not that he passed on this great talent to me). Or is she just supposed to teach me what to do and the fact that she can't do it with him doesn't matter. Why was Preston scared of his family today? It took a half an hour (and a treat) to get him to come to me so I could bring him downstairs to eat.

Sorry for this long message. I appreciate any advice.

Thanks!!!, Cathy
 

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Hi Cathy,

I can totally relate. I had my misgivings after the first meeting with our trainer, but thought I was being silly and went ahead with 5 more trainings (it was a package deal). Jack & Jill made absolutely zero progress during the whole time. And she also used positive reinforcement and was a nice person, but she just wasn't the right fit. I think you need to go with your gut and find someone else.

Where in So Cal are you? There are a few of us that want to meet up regularly with our malts - you should definitely come!

Preston is absolutely adorable - we just need to be patient and work consistently with our babies :). I hope he's back to his old self soon!
 

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He had a stressful day...its not unusual for him to still be "burning it off". Don't coddle him, treat him normally, feel free to use treats to encourage or reward normal behavior. He should bounce back.
The trainer sounds good...my only concern is perhaps she is pushing him too hard and for too long a time. I would discuss doing shorter sessions more frequently.
 

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I don't have any experience with trainers ... but I'd say give her a second chance. There is always the chance that he was feeding off of you (meeting a new person in the house) and it made him uncomfortable. It could be that he was just having a bad day. ??

I am sure other more knowledgable people will chime in here ... and I wish you and Preston good luck!!

HUGz! Jules
 

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I can only speak from my own personal experience. We had a trainer
come to work with Teddy. She was a very nice person, came highly
recommended, and had completed some behavioral training at Cornell.
But no matter how good she was, Teddy would not stop barking at her
or come near her. Teddy got so upset that he actually had a seizure
during one of the training sessions. After that I decided not to finish
out the lessons. She did teach me how to work with Teddy and I do
continue to work with him. I don't think he's as skittish or afraid as
he once was. I just think that he was not ready to start working with
a trainer. I also know that after the seizure, Teddy probably felt my
anxiety and that made it even worse. I believe that you have to do what
you feel is right for you and for your puppy.
 

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What about taking him to a small dog park... he would get desensitized by all the different people around and learn to interact correctly with other dogs... Outside of his home 'comfort zone' may cause him to react less aggressively and be curious to explore.

I would also take her suggestion to have people stop over - have them offer a treat and then ignore him. Ours weren't too friendly and since we started doing this (daily dog park and/or long walks in new areas) + people dropping by more, we've noticed improvement. Whew!
 

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I would give her another try. Avoiding the things that stress your dog are not going to make it better but are only going to make it worse. I too have a very fearful pup. She is almost 9 months and is great with other animals but not so much with people. She is afraid of my husband (who is a kind and wonderful person) as well as any man who comes to the house and it has taken us weeks to see even the smallest improvement. But we are being consistent and not backing down and almost every day we see a positive step. She now growls at him with her tail wagging.

He feeds her and gives her treats and I give her no comfort when she shows fear. 8 weeks ago she would run and hide when he entered the room, now she will follow him around with her tail wagging, but still growls if he tries to pick her up or even even looks at her.

The point is IT TAKES TIME, we've been working hard for 8 weeks and while we've made great progress it is going to take a lot longer to be where we want to be.

If you agree with this trainers methods and you like her I would not allow his fear to derail you, try it a gain and see what happens.
 

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The trainer sounds good...my only concern is perhaps she is pushing him too hard and for too long a time. I would discuss doing shorter sessions more frequently.
This was my thought too. I can't imagine working my dogs for 2 hours especially on something so tough.

We have had a couple fantastic trainers here and Jax took a long while to "warm up" to them. After about 3-4 weeks with one he finally decided she was pretty cool and was excited to run the tunnel for her - but that was it. If we had them in our home to start with it probably would've taken even longer.

Both trainers would basically give him no attention (since he would react if they did) and tell me what to do. It's more helpful for them to train YOU rather than your dog. You need to know how to handle the situation. It's good for them to be around to guide you.

If you felt the trainer was good, I'd say give it another shot. :)
 

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Holy cow!!!! I guess we were lucky then... maybe because we did it with all three (the fearful, mistreated rescue plus the two pups) they were less overwhelmed because they had each other. We also picked them up when they asked, held them for a few minutes and put them down again. And take them out if a dog seems to be intimidating to them. Happily, this technique does seem to be working for us...they are loving the dog park and can't wait to seem to get in there now...and it's only been a couple of weeks.
 

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"Flooding involves incessant exposure to something that causes a fear reaction, with no possible means of escape"

I guess therein lies the difference - we never made them feel they had no means of escape. If they got scared and jumped on our legs, we picked them up or took them out all together. Those are both escapes.
 

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Eileen, I'm glad your plan worked for your dogs. Every dog is different. Good trainers adjust their plan to the individual dog. I just brought up the point on flooding because increasing the anxiety with a fear aggressive dog (fear brought on by anxiety) can be extremely counterproductive and therefore not a safe recommendation to make over the internet without evaluating the dog in person. I try to be very careful to make sure any internet tips are going to be safe for dog and owner...and you learned something new (my favorite thing to do)!
 

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I always seem to learn something new here - it's great!!! One thing I'm learning is that there is no be all/end all trick/tip. Thank you for your continued sharing! :)
 

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Great info, thanks!

This part especially hit home for me, since I'm terrified of spiders:

"A human person with a fear of spiders is considered arachnophobic, as most probably realize after some Hollywood movies. The flooding method of alleviating this (hopefully) is to have the person lie down in a glass "coffin" and then cover them in spiders. But the point is that the human patient knows this is going to happen and has agreed to it. Pets and children are very similar when it comes to understanding things. Would any decent parent allow their toddler to undergo this "treatment" to overcome their fear of spiders? Then why should we think it okay or appropriate for our furred children?"
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I read the articles on flooding. Then I started thinking about how Preston was a little startled when I used the clicker today. It was introduced yesterday with the trainer. Could he be afraid of it. Might that be part of the problem???
 

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I read the articles on flooding. Then I started thinking about how Preston was a little startled when I used the clicker today. It was introduced yesterday with the trainer. Could he be afraid of it. Might that be part of the problem???
Maybe it's the kind of clicker you have? I bought the Petco clicker and my trainer didn't like it at all. It was pretty loud and obnoxious. The one she used was a much softer click. I really think that made a difference, at least with J & J.
 
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