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Discussion Starter #1
So I signed Stella up for some remedial socialization/work on some reactivity. It was someone that a friend put me in contact with and she actually used to teach at Stella's obedience school and even subbed in for one of Stella's puppy classes. I was told she had some great helper dogs so I was confident.

The first time we went was...ok I guess. I mean I wasn't that impressed (especially because it took place in a really dinky backyard in an inner city) but it wasn't bad. Stella did ok.

But last night the trainer was sick and someone filled in for her. I was...not happy. We kept going back and forth practicing "look" but...well Stella is kind of ok with that for dogs she's gotten used to, and she got used to his dogs quickly. So then we tried off leash work which is what I wanted. He had his dog and wanted Stella muzzled. Ok, that happened last time. Stella went up to him slightly waggy but really stiff. Then she got nasty and he corrected her, but it seemed kind of harsh and she yelped. She was then absolutely terrified of this dog and she's never really that scared of other dogs. We tried on leash work again but then Stella was so scared of this other dog, her tail was tucked and her ears back and she kept looking at me all scared and was trying to escape. On top of that some stray (well owned by an irresponsible owner) intact Chihuahua comes sniffing around and upsets Stella by getting all up in her business. She growled and that made her more stressed. Along with that I'm really not pleased as I see this trainer is using pinch collars on his dogs and they're not behaving like angels or anything I would want or expect a "helper dog" to behave like. Finally Stella was just so scared that I said I didn't want to work with his male dog anymore. I said that we weren't dealing with a fear as he mentioned...but we were creating one. I said she'd never been that scared of another dog and I don't want to make her issues worse. Then of course when we took his female out she did a lot better on leash and also hung out with her off leash in the yard, but at this point she was half shut down.

Later at home I went to scratch Stella's ear and she yelped...and I saw dried and fresh blood inside her ear. I figured that must've been why she was so scared and shut down, he nicked her. We cleaned out her ear and I called him and messaged the head trainer, upset about what happened. I said that I didn't want Stella interacting with the dog that nipped her and I was not happy about the situation. I know I was super stressed and upset yesterday, and I was being a ****ty trainer in general and probably looked and sounded like a lunatic dog owner with no experience. But...I do know my dog.

They are both vehemently denying that this other dog nipped Stella, and are insisting she must've been scratched by something else because that's "not even the side he corrected her on". They kept insisting she needs to learn to be corrected and she was just shutting down because she didn't like being corrected. Is he right? Was Stella just learning how to behave? And now I'm even doubting if he did nip her. Maybe it was a scratch she got some other way... I don't know.

Just...I've not been doing well at all and this whole experience with Stella just made me have a massive breakdown last night crying uncontrollably. I'm so worried about making her worse. I'm also really humiliated and upset I looked crazy and unhinged. I know I'm definitely one of those nightmare clients they're going to tell people about... And I also am supposed to have a last session with her that I pre-purchased but I just don't even want to do it. I'm just so upset about everything and I don't trust anything or anyone. Not even myself.

Just...what do you think? Was I wrong and they were right? Is that the right thing to do? I just kind of want to hide under the bed and not come out.
 

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Do yourself and Stella a favor and do NOT go back. She was being flooded and it rarely helps.

She's already slightly reactive, by letting other dogs correct her she's learning that she's right to be afraid. I will tell you that if I were the trainer and had seen Stella approaching with stiff body language I would have told you to redirect her and lead her a couple of feet back, that she was uncomfortable and was liable to do what she did. Zody pulls that type of stunt at times if I give him half a chance

Did you read the C.A.R.E. site that I linked you to in one of your other threads? It explains how to work with dogs like Stella and like my Zody.

Read, read, and read some more on reactive dogs. I'll give you the care web addy again, it's Care for Reactive Dogs . Please join the Reactive Dogs FB page, it's well moderated and science based, there's great trainers on it, and it has a good resource page. Even if you never post on it you'll have access to the resource page.
 

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but then Stella was so scared of this other dog, her tail was tucked and her ears back and she kept looking at me all scared and was trying to escape.
I'm not a trainer, just a regular dog owner, but it seems as if your dog is trying to tell you that is not a good place. I agree with Rain, don't go back.

We have all read of situations in the world where people we are supposed to trust turn out to be clueless and sometimes even abusive, and in my opinion, the situation was not handled well by them. Anyone can call themselves a trainer, but it is your dog and you see like a pretty smart person. Don't let them make you feel bad, I think your apprehensions are valid.

I personally think that you need to chill and get your self confidence back. You don't need to find a trainer right now, you can work on her socialization issues yourself for a while.
 

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I wouldn't go back, that doesn't sound like a good place. Your dog does need to learn to be ok with corrections from other dogs, that's how dogs learn polite interaction, but that's not how to do it. And besides, a true correction wouldn't result in blood.

My roommate just adopted a 1 year old hound mix, that loves to wrestle with my beagle mix. However, the new dog has poor bite inhibition and can be pushy about playing when my dog is done, so my dog will correct her when she goes over the line. But all it ever is is a bark and an air snap. She's certainly never drawn blood.
 

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Totally would not go back. The moment he made my dog cry I would have been out. I do not believe you should second guess your intuition. You know you're dog, and the fact that she shut down may not only be not helping her slight reactive problem, it could totally be creating a new problem.

I would speak with the head trainer about your concerns and let them know that this is the reason, among others. Maybe they will speak with the trainer, maybe they won't, but you should never be made to feel like your intuition is wrong.

Also, never be afraid to look crazy and unhinged for your dogs well being. You were being a good owner, caring about what is best for your dog. If that's crazy then call me (and a lot of people here) crazy. Hell you're a lot better then I am. If he would have made my dog cry with a correction I would have been inclined to correct him with my fist.
 

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Stella went up to him slightly waggy but really stiff. Then she got nasty and he corrected her, but it seemed kind of harsh and she yelped.
That shouldn't have happened... Who allowed Stella to approach when she's stiff and unsure? And why would Stella get nasty? She took a correction, but it was done in reverse, the wrong way.

Letting unsure dogs meet other dogs on their terms is a big no no - they just don't know how to do it properly and it can end up creating more issues - or end up getting hurt. It's a setup for failure. I refer to the GSD that went after Jagger in the park - aggressive play. The GSD was a rescue - muzzled, insecure and on a long line - the GSD didn't know any better, just wanted to play. When Jagger corrected, the GSD literally danced - and ended up being afraid of a 10 pound dog. That's backward.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
The vet confirmed Stella's ear had a puncture she couldn't have done to herself. I'm going to send the trainer an e-mail. For reference this is the one she sent me (and kind of pissed me off). This is what I have, tell me if you think it's appropriate? I'm sending it to the head female trainer and the one who we worked with last time was a male employee. Thanks.

Hi Tracie,
I will be happy to talk about this tomorrow. I would like to see Stella's ear myself if you would like to show me where you feel she might have been hurt by the correction. I'm not seeing anything in the photos. Please try to understand that if there isn't a puncture, it is highly unlikely that -male dog's- teeth/jaw did any biting. She may have scratched it at some time before or during the session. -male trainer- has also explained to me that he checked both dogs after the correction and didn't see any blood or bites. If you would like for me to have a look at Stella's ear myself, I will be more than happy to do this. I would like for you to understand that during sessions, we are offering our opinions based on our years of background in dog behavior and training and when we do things a certain way it is usually for the best reasons. If you choose not to do things our way, and feel you know how to do it better, then I feel we won't be much help to you. I do not appreciate you contacting -male trainer- and would prefer for you to always direct back to me with any concerns or issues and I will get back to you at our earliest business hours.

I would like to offer to do your final session with me and we can use my dog. We can meet at a park and work with walking Stella around other dogs at the parks as well. I feel Stella needed a lot of play time and exposure to different types of dogs and not just ones that may be easier for her to get along with which is why I didn't want to just continue to use my dog only. If Stella felt shut down around -male dog-, she would learn respect and not to growl or take advantage of him as she has done most other dogs. -male dog- doesn't tolerate dominance aggressive behaviors and there for he will correct which is why we use him for our board and train captain of the dogs. He has never hurt a dog or caused an injury in the 5 years he has worked with us doing this. I explained to you on our first session that -male dog- doesn't take any thing from other dogs so if he should correct Stella, you will hear a lot of noise but nothing wrong or bad is happening and you told me that you were ok with this. If Stella is only allowed to be around dogs that are easy for her (ones she can boss around) her reactivity will stay dominant.

We are trying to "fix" Stella's behaviors and teach her how to be comfortable around dogs and sometimes that takes a dog putting them in their place. If she shut down, it could have been many reasons but there is nothing wrong with a dog becoming submissive after being corrected. I think Stella is a great dog and I know you care a lot for her but if we cannot train how we need to, there probably isn't much point in working together.

Please let me know if there is anything you need from me on this matter. Let me know how the vet visit goes and keep me posted on how you would like to finish the last session.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Even now I'm kind of doubting myself and really not sure what to do about the whole situation. I don't know. :( Here's my email back...didn't send it yet though.



It’s taken me a few days to get back to you because I’ve been trying to figure out what to say. I really don’t think Stella and I will be seeing you again. I was very upset with how things went with -male trainer-, and how we were treated after what happened. To start, -male dog- DID in fact puncture the cartilage in Stella’s ear. You were both so adamant that he didn’t do it that at first I did actually believe that maybe you were right and she scratched it some other way. But the veterinarian confirmed my first suspicions, and said it was a definite puncture that she could not have done to herself. Considering the fact it was a fresh injury and our little dog didn’t do it, -male dog- had to. The vet said you are welcome to call her if you want to dispute that. Not only that, but the fact -male trainer- did not take Stella’s intense display of fear (and now I realize, pain) into account and just brushed it off as her “not liking” being put in her place truly troubles me. I had to pay $85 for the Stella’s exam and ointment to go on the wound. I’m more upset about how you and -male trainer- reacted to this rather than what happened. If you had apologized for -male dog- biting Stella, which I even said I knew was an accident, I would have felt better that you at least recognized a mistake that can happen in situations like this, and not been so hesitant about returning. But you not only insisted you were doing the right thing, but that him biting Stella didn’t even happen and she just didn’t like to be told off by another dog. I’m sorry but a “correction” does not involve an injury. I would’ve been ok if he just corrected her like I said before we started, but he actually hurt her. You may not appreciate that I also contacted -male trainer- but considering the fact he was the one that I saw and whose dog did it, that was my first reaction to tell him it happened, and then I did contact you right after. Ideally I would like to ask for some money back for the last training session, at least to pay for Stella’s vet bill, but I doubt that will actually happen. I’m just really upset about how we were treated, and also upset because I mentioned how I really couldn’t afford this training and now I’m angry at myself for wasting $200 and having to spend an extra $85 on an unnecessary vet bill. I really could have gotten a lot crazier over the fact you may have made my dogs fear or reactivity worse or just the fact she was bitten. But right now I WOULD really appreciate it if you just gave me the money to cover Stella’s vet bill and I wouldn’t ask for any money back on a session I’m not going to. I think this is pretty reasonable, and I just want to put this behind us. Thanks.
 

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Wow, her letter just...isn't nice.

My takeaway:

- I don't work with trainers that want me to do things that make me or my dog uncomfortable. YOU know your dog best. It doesn't matter if you're a trainer with years of experience - neither am I - but as a caregiver you spend every day with Stella and you are still a valuable source of knowledge. The trainer I'm currently going to be working with told me methods she used in our first email exchange; things like CC, BAT, etc. but she also mentioned flooding. I told her right off the bat that I was NOT going to use flooding with my dog and she quickly assured me (in email and in person) that flooding is a very suspect way of dealing with fear/reactivity and she only uses it in very extreme cases and would not use it with my dog if I was opposed (she didn't see the need anyway).

- I'm upsettingly curious that they have a dog on staff that they use to "correct" other, fearful dogs. That just sounds like a bad idea and I seriously doubt this is the first injury caused.

- If Stella is uncomfortable with other dogs a dog putting her in her place will NOT make it better. Been there, done that. My Chisum isn't necessarily reactive to strange dogs but he's kind of socially awkward so we have to be careful if he ever meets any (somewhat rare since he's usually violently opposed to their owners!). When my parents brought Nellie and Raleigh home I would say that Nellie is very much a dog that "put him in his place" and it's been nothing but headaches ever since....Chisum is great with sweet, tolerant Raleigh but when it comes to Nellie he is very, very on edge.

- I'm of the camp that corrections from other dogs could potentially be beneficial for a young, hyper-social dog that is just acting inappropriately out of exuberance. A dog that is afraid of other dogs that consequently gets attacked by another dog isn't going to rid of that fear and I'm not really sure on the logic with that one.
 

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and kind of pissed me off
Good to see you standing up for yourself.


but I doubt that will actually happen.
Stop wimping out. Cross that part out.


which I even said I knew was an accident
Take that out. I think you are saying the correction was ill advised, don't turn around and then call it an accident and weaken your argument.

I WOULD really appreciate it if you just gave me the money to cover Stella’s vet bill and I wouldn’t ask for any money back on a session I’m not going to.
Or you could say:

Enclosed is the vet bill. Please settle this matter by paying the bill and refunding my final session cost and no further action will be taken on my part, I am not asking for compensation for my time to take my dog to the vet and tend to her injuries.
 

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Jagger bit another dog one day, large boxer puppy - and I wasn't taking any accountability for it. The boxers approach was wrong, mind you there were 2 warning corrections given first - but dogs don't get the third chance. I warned the owner, take control of the dog or it's going to get hurt. When Jagger bites, he goes for blood.

You're throwing 100% onus on the trainer here - but who allowed Stella to approach

Stella went up to him slightly waggy but really stiff. Then she got nasty and he corrected her, but it seemed kind of harsh and she yelped.
Who allowed this to happen? Who allowed the dog to escalate and get nasty? Define nasty?
 

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Jagger bit another dog one day, large boxer puppy - and I wasn't taking any accountability for it. The boxers approach was wrong, mind you there were 2 warning corrections given first - but dogs don't get the third chance. I warned the owner, take control of the dog or it's going to get hurt. When Jagger bites, he goes for blood.

You're throwing 100% onus on the trainer here - but who allowed Stella to approach



Who allowed this to happen? Who allowed the dog to escalate and get nasty? Define nasty?
Yes, but when you knew the other owner was not going to control the dog after the second warning then why didn't you take control Jagger and get him away from the puppy?

It's 100% the trainer's fault, you go to a trainer thinking that they know what they are doing, that they know more then you, that they are not going to let something happen that shouldn't. The trainer should have spotted the body language was not right and had Tracie back Stella away. Sounds to me like Tracie simply followed the trainer's instructions thinking the trainer knew what he was doing.

A neighbor who is dog savvy has a Bull Terrier, he's a big waggy lug who just wants to play with my dog. Zody however is very wary of him, and when me and the neighbor stop to talk I keep Zody back, even if Zody is not barking, because Zody is completely stiff and his body language says he's prepared to go on the offense, When I first met the terrier's owner she took one look at Zody and requested I keep him back, and I told her I knew Zody was not good with large dogs and what his body language was saying. Tracie's owner should have had that same basic knowledge, but it sounds as if they operate under the let's push dogs way beyond what they are comfortable with and hope for the best, sort of the old throw the child into the deep end of the pool to teach it to swim mentality.
 

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Yes, but when you knew the other owner was not going to control the dog after the second warning then why didn't you take control Jagger and get him away from the puppy?
Rain, Jagger isn't the issue, I never removed him from the situation. However, If the boxer had been aggressive and on the attack, I would have removed it rather quickly and with prejudice. I've done it in the past, and will continue to do so in the future. I have 100% confidence, trust and respect invested in that dog - and it's returned. I know he can handle himself and deal out corrections as needed. The boxer's owner agreed and his dog learned a valuable lesson that day, just because it's small - doesn't mean it isn't going to bite back.

And yes, I used Jagger as a tool to assess other dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
You're throwing 100% onus on the trainer here - but who allowed Stella to approach

Who allowed this to happen? Who allowed the dog to escalate and get nasty? Define nasty?
...are you seriously blaming me? This is not a situation like yours at all. You can't compare a neglectful owner not controlling their rude puppy to me in a training session being told to let Stella approach the other dog. I NEVER let Stella approach any other dogs unless I know for a fact she's good with them. If anything I'm extraordinarily cautious with Stella. Not only that, but Stella was muzzled so she really couldn't do much damage. I was only doing what I was told and I was trusting that the guy's dog wouldn't hurt Stella. I might add the trainer was holding his dog so it seemed like the situation was well controlled. Also, the "Getting nasty" was mainly her being stiff, growling and pushing towards him. That's pretty much the extent of it, and it all happened pretty fast.

I'm sorry but acting like this was my fault is really judgmental and hurtful when I'm clearly distressed. This was not something that happened as a result of me not properly caring for my dog. I was actively trying to work on her behavior problems, which is why I paid money to try and work on those issues. And instead of help I ended up with a really upsetting and harmful experience.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
@Lucille I appreciate your advice but I actually would've been ok with a correction in general, just not the sort that this dog gave, which resulted in injury. That's why she acted like I said I was ok with this beforehand, because I said I was ok with corrections. It was just the bite that I was upset about. Otherwise I think I will clean it up a bit and take out the self-pitying parts. I'm just used to never having anything work out so unfortunately I come off as a bit meek. If anything I'm actually intensely aggressive but I've had to control myself so long I'm just always in defeated control mode because if I let loose...I'm going to punch someone out.
 

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@traciek88, I never once blamed you, I asked a simple question. But I really think that you need to take at least some culpability for this one. I would.

What if she wasn't muzzled?

So she was stiff, growling and pushy in the meeting with the other dog? 2 grown adults couldn't recognize that the dog was in a bad state of mind and let the meet proceed anyway? I don't get that.
 

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I'm curious after reading the email- did you ever talk to the trainer(s) about what they thought the cause of Stella's reactivity was, what you thought it was, and whether it matched at all?

This especially is the section making me go ????:
"I would like to offer to do your final session with me and we can use my dog. We can meet at a park and work with walking Stella around other dogs at the parks as well. I feel Stella needed a lot of play time and exposure to different types of dogs and not just ones that may be easier for her to get along with which is why I didn't want to just continue to use my dog only. If Stella felt shut down around -male dog-, she would learn respect and not to growl or take advantage of him as she has done most other dogs. -male dog- doesn't tolerate dominance aggressive behaviors and there for he will correct which is why we use him for our board and train captain of the dogs. He has never hurt a dog or caused an injury in the 5 years he has worked with us doing this. I explained to you on our first session that -male dog- doesn't take any thing from other dogs so if he should correct Stella, you will hear a lot of noise but nothing wrong or bad is happening and you told me that you were ok with this. If Stella is only allowed to be around dogs that are easy for her (ones she can boss around) her reactivity will stay dominant.

We are trying to "fix" Stella's behaviors and teach her how to be comfortable around dogs and sometimes that takes a dog putting them in their place. If she shut down, it could have been many reasons but there is nothing wrong with a dog becoming submissive after being corrected. I think Stella is a great dog and I know you care a lot for her but if we cannot train how we need to, there probably isn't much point in working together."
From the sound of the trainer's email, I would say:
1) These are the kinds of trainers who are comfortable in "dominance" as a reason for a dog's aggressive behavior.
2) Building off of that, trainers who are comfortable in "dominance" as an explanation for a dog's reactivity are going to then be OK with any kind of correction coming from their dog, even if that correction might be deemed less than appropriate/necessary if given by the dog in front of a different sort of trainer
3) When trainers believe a dog's reactivity to come from a place of "dominant behavior", are OK with dogs correcting one another in situations other than over exuberant rudeness, regularly set dogs up to be put into situations where one will correct the other to 'fix' a behavioral problem, and firmly believe that after 5 years the dog in question has never reacted inappropriately (even in this situation, where it sounds pretty clear their dog did react inappropriately), they're going to be very unlikely to come over to your side of thinking and accept that they were wrong/their dog was wrong.
4) They don't seem to be especially trouble by a dog shutting down- they might even see it as beneficial to that social interaction. Not all dog trainers see shutting down a behavior or a dog as something to avoid- sometimes that is a big part of the training methods.

Really, it sounds like there is a fundamental difference in the way you think a dog should be trained and how a dog thinks and the way that these people do. From what you have described of Stella's reactivity, it sounds likely there is a large fear component. Given her mix (cattle dog), and also other descriptions of her, I'd be willing to guess there is an aspect of her wanting to control others as well. Some trainers will see that, peg it as "dominance" and then proceed in a way like this- allow another dog to "put her in her place" and not "take anything" from her. Really, it sounds like this is an adult dog with very little ability to socialize with others. With this, IMO the safest thing to do would be to focus on lowering threshold distance on leash, have a solid recall off leash and a muzzle on if being off leash is important to you, and focus on teaching her that if she in uncomfortable she should disengage/come to you.

You have a vet who is saying there is no way this ear injury occurred from anything other than another dog biting, correct? I would express that you feel your ideas of about dog behavior differ from those of these trainers, express that you would like a refund for the final session, and express that you would like them to cover the cost of vet care (if that is indeed what you want). You may or may not get the money for the vet care. You will likely be able to negotiate a refund for the last session. In the future, I would be more careful in the trainers you choose to work with when socializing. Not to place blame or anything, just to say that if you're going to pursue socialization with other dogs, you do have to accept some level of risk and also be absolutely sure your training methodologies/ideas aligns with that of the trainer you're working with.

To add: I 100% believe this was an inappropriate situation and do not think you are at all wrong in being upset with it, or with the dog in question. I highly, highly doubt the trainers are just covering their own butts in this though, I really think they think their dog behaved exactly as he should have and see you as being over sensitive, not wanting your dog to be uncomfortable, too easy on your dog because I think that their idea of dog behavior and training likely differs drastically from mine, yours, and the majority of the people on this board.
 

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I agree with all that has been said, and have not too much more to say than they have. But just keep in mind that trainers are often to help you learn to better understand and communicate with your dog, if you and the trainer don't get along, I doubt you'll have very good results. You have to be able to be comfortable with the person and trust the person, or you'll be transferring all of your apprehensions to your dog, and that's a recipe for disaster.
 
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