Saturday, June 8, 2013

Spur: Training the Beast, Part 19

Class Day 11, June 8

Our private class time coincided with a Group Class in Huntersville. We made arrangements the week prior to meet with our trainer in Huntersville and work our private class alongside the Group Class.

When we arrived, Spur seemed wound up. He didn’t misbehave too badly in the car. A few barks, but I corrected him and he quieted down. As I got him out of the car, I immediately headed into a heel, walking quickly with him in the deserted portion of the parking lot, trying to gain his attention with the remote. He did not seem to be responding.

Our trainer, Sam, walked over to greet us. Spur was on rather decent behavior to greet her, though he still wasn’t focused and ready to work. Doug took his leash as I held his remote and we headed toward the class. Sam’s instructions to us went mostly ignored or not heard by Doug and Spur went nutso when he came in contact with several dogs. This group class had at least two dogs that were not dog-friendly; I turned his remote up to try to correct him, but he didn’t seem fazed. We walked past the Group Class, Spur having a nasty reaction to approximately 4 or 5 dogs in the class. Past the Group Class, we had him “place” on a sitting bench. Sam tightened his collar (though it was pretty snug when I placed it on him.) We then heeled him around the quiet portion of the building to get his composure together and get him relaxed. Sam informed us that Turk had expected us to “graduate” this day. Doug and I were doubtful, especially after seeing his attitude with several of the dogs in class. Actually, it seemed like he had more issues with dogs on this day than he had with people. She also asked us again to reiterate his history. Then she asked us if we considered using a prong collar on him. We were pretty adamant about not using one on him. We reminded her that the e-collar was still a difficult thing for us to approve of and that’s as far as we wanted to take his correction(s.)

As we came back around the building toward the Group Class, a German shepherd set Spur off again. The Shepherd didn’t seem aggressive, but he did seem like he was going to stand his ground and protect himself if Spur were to try to harm him. Another dog was highly dog aggressive and wore a muzzle. Spur also tried to start something with that dog. I could see, by the twitching of Spur’s scruff, that the collar was working and working well, but Spur seemed to ignore the corrections as Doug dragged him past the class.

So disappointing. So frustrating. So discouraging. As of last week, I was hopeful that we were on the right track. This week seems like a disaster compared to last. We walked around the quiet part of the building again and came back to the class. We tried walking past the group again and this time, Spur stayed a bit quieter and more focused on Doug. Once Doug was able to get Spur to walk back and forth in front of the class, we came to a gathering area where Sam wanted to test Spur’s obedience skills he would need to “graduate.” Honestly, Spur’s attitude had Doug and I pretty sure that graduation on this day was out of the question.

A “place” board was set out and Spur did his place and stay. Doug could go to the end of the 10 foot leash and walk all the way around Spur and Spur stayed put. Sam really wanted to “graduate” Spur today because that’s what Turk had expected. We were not ready.

We let Doug practice handling Spur with the remote. I held back to watch. The Group Class took a break; they gathered around a patio table for a photo op. After that, they played “Spur-in-the-Middle.” Spur did well. So then the Group Class lined up, two lines facing each other. Spur was supposed to walk down the center. But his little attitude toward some of the dogs showed it’s ugly, nasty head again. Oh, Spur!

Our homework for this week: 3x… Go out and find trouble. Take him to places that are uncomfortable, work through his issues, correcting him as necessary, repeating until he calms down. Sam continued to press the “graduation” thing. We have already scheduled private lessons through the end of June. She and Courtney stated they want us to begin attending group classes, even if we have to sit out to the side, or work with him alongside the group until he can be included back in the group. Try a Group Class and if it ends up horribly, we can drop back to a Private lesson. I don’t know. And, while I thought he did much better with people this class; he was much worse with dogs.

When, Spur? When will you snap out of it???

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