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Suggestions for dog training client with unreasonable fence expectations?

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  • #21
    And I am surprised no one has mentioned the problems with getting littermates - once the dogs reach maturity isn't there usually a problem with dog on dog aggression? I have an acquaintance who is currently dealing with this and one of her dogs will have to be re-homed.
    not just aggression- you can get the dogs so bonded to each other they have zero interest in their owners (which, of course, won't help with recall training, amongst many other difficulties such a situation creates). No good breeder will sell littermates to the same person, so we know she got the pups from a puppy mill or something so they will have bad genetics and poor early socialization to add to the problem of idiotic owner.

    If you're advising her about training in general, tell her about the necessity of separating the dogs often- one dog should go to class or on a walk or a training session while the other is left home. Frequently. They need to learn to be individuals, not treated as a pair all the time.

    As to the fence- if you can't convince her to see reason, maybe you could try running through the training protocol you use when putting in an invisible fence? namely, you walk the dog on a leash up to the boundary and encourage the dog to back away from the boundary and give lots of treats and praise for doing so? For a rare few dogs that's sufficient to keep them in.

    Comment


    • #22
      Originally posted by wendy View Post
      <snip>

      As to the fence- if you can't convince her to see reason, maybe you could try running through the training protocol you use when putting in an invisible fence? namely, you walk the dog on a leash up to the boundary and encourage the dog to back away from the boundary and give lots of treats and praise for doing so? For a rare few dogs that's sufficient to keep them in.

      This is really the only viable method I can think of, and it is not any sort of guarantee, especially with young breeds prone to chase, especially with litter mates. Additionally, three board, with or without wire, won't be much of a deterrent height-wise. I've seen far less athletic breeds than springers pop over a no-climb laden three board without breaking stride.

      If this client truly has viable dog training experience and small kids, she should be able to comprehend that dogs do not come with pre-installed software and must be "programmed" to acceptable parameters. Part of "programming" is giving your proto good-dog easy answers. If the acceptable answer is "stay inside this fence line", proto dog should have few other options besides "stay inside this fence line", and the increase in difficulty of the question should be gradual and still easy to answer correctly for the dog.

      Whether it's no climb, long lead or IF (IF can be installed above ground for temporary use, and this is what the clients choice SHOULD be for optimum success), your client should be instilled with this knowledge- that it is a process, and the process is quickest and easiest when the CORRECT answer is always easiest. Giving options other than the correct answer muddles the training waters and confuses the target, making the path to the correct answer more complex.

      If your client won't hear you, I would give her money back now.
      bar.ka think u al.l. susp.ect
      free bar.ka and tidy rabbit

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      • Original Poster

        #23
        Wow, thanks (everyone) for all the great and insightful replies. Yeah, I was pretty much thinking the same things, but you all gave me some additional concerns.

        So, OTOH, UGH!

        I did (during the brief "first meet and selling them the program" thing) mention to her: A) the complications of raising and training littermates (MUST be separated for the training, and on a regular basis for handling, etc., lest they turn into a pack who "tunes out the humans"); B) some suggestions as to what to do about the mild but already emerging aggression issues (the female pup is dominating the male, shocker! , any suggestions from people with experience in this *specific* area would be much appreciated!, so far I have only handled this within a classroom setting and have given them advice and homework); C) the issues which will be created by having all of these children (the two older ones were "assigned a puppy", the 11 year old boy has the male, the 9 year old girl has the female, and they are--so far--taking their responsibilities seriously, but the puppies are YOUNG and pliable and agreeable, things will change once they hit the dreaded "adolescence" and start pushing the envelope, and I had to give the mom the "bad news" that wrestling with the pups on the floor by the kids is a NO-NO.); and then there is the fence thing, D) it's impossible to "boundary train" young exploratory puppies without a solid recall--which takes a LONG time to train, and even longer to proof.



        I have my first session with the woman (with just her and the puppies) tomorrow, and I will just have to give it to her straight and try to explain WHY dogs do what they do, and also the limitations that a trainer has--ANY trainer!--considering the abovementioned things, the nature of her expectations, and her intractability. Of course I will NOT mention her intractability! I spent YEARS in sales, and have lots of tact, but OTOH, I cringe at putting these puppies in peril because of someone's ego.

        I will update the board as I go along, and again--thanks again for all of the input. Maybe some moral support for me is in order?? I fully expect to lose this commission (it's my first "gig" with this company, and I have inquired as to the retroactive nature of the cancellation--does the client only get refunded the pro-rated time/sessions, or does the company just refund the whole thing, with the trainer not getting *any* compensation for their time, energy, travel, expertise, etc.?)

        I am planning to brainstorm about this with the guy who runs the local chapter of the organization, and who brought me on board. He says he "supports the trainers" and will sit in on sessions, help with troubleshooting, etc., but I feel as though this is one tough project for me to take on right off the bat.

        BTW, I am actually a trainer and coach "de horse", and am personally UBER aware of safety and am by nature conservative; I would never put a horse, a rider (someone's child, wife, mother) in harm's way by pushing them to do something they are not ready for, or because of my own desire to "try something new and take a chance" just for the hell of it. I would be horrified if someone did this to me (though I have attended several Jimmy W clinics--one during which he DID push my group and my horse beyond their/our reasonable capabilities because he had "a glint in his eye" that day, and I wound up coming a-cropper. My horse and I were lucky we were not injured or killed, and I regret to this day not being "my horse's advocate", and not simply saying to him "NO, not today." He has an iron-clad?? waiver that all of his clinic participants must sign; probably as a result of a history of this kind of thing.)
        "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

        "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")

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        • #24
          Originally posted by oliverreed View Post
          And I am surprised no one has mentioned the problems with getting littermates - once the dogs reach maturity isn't there usually a problem with dog on dog aggression? I have an acquaintance who is currently dealing with this and one of her dogs will have to be re-homed.
          It's not usually a problem with siblings of different sexes. More likely to occur with terrier or "fiesty" breeds. The bigger problem is that they bond with each other and do not look to the owner for companionship.
          ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
          Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

          "Life is merrier with a terrier!"

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          • #25
            Originally posted by threedogpack View Post
            get your money up front and tell her you won't offer a refund.

            this will go south and it will be your fault.

            Good luck, when the puppies become adolescent dogs and begin to make their own decisions....think about how you can help her place them.
            Also, try to get it in writing that you advised additional fencing & that she refused.
            ~ Horse Box Lovers Clique ~

            Comment


            • #26
              I have no suggestions on how to handle the client but I just wanted to comment on litter mates. I raised litter mates that I got from a rescue. They were about 3 months old and were female Australian Shepherds. There were four puppies in the litter and my two were neither most timid or alpha. It was challenging to get them focused on me and I'm glad to hear it wasn't just me. What I did was I took them to obedience classes off the property. I'd take my crate with me and do a beginner class with one while the other waiting out of site in the crate. The first week or two was noisy but it got better. After the beginner class was finished, I signed up for the next level up. There was only one of those classes so I also signed up for another beginner class and then alternated which dog went to which class. Both dogs successfully got their CGC and I've gotten lots of comments on how well behaved they are. They are now 13 (well, next month) and have never developed any aggression toward each other or anything else. I guess I got lucky as they were the first two dogs that were actually my own.
              Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Goethe

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              • #27
                I lived with a couple of GSD/wolf hybrid brothers from the time they were twelve weeks old until they were about two. When they were 9 or 10 months old, their three brothers came to live with us for about a year.

                We had plenty of aggression, but I don't remember any problems with the pups being excessively bonded to each other. I thought there would be some separation anxiety and other problems when I split them up at age two, but nope. Everyone seemed more than happy to have his very own human that he didn't have to share with anyone.
                I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show

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                • #28
                  Make it your idea her idea

                  Hey Dr. D! I look forward to the update. My suggestion is only slightly varied: make it her idea. She needs to feel in control. Her dogs, her money, her time, and well it's Nova.

                  Has she kept a dog in this yard successfully?

                  In these convos, their pups are "Fifi" stranger pups are "Fido".

                  - "I want this to be safe and successful for your whole family. I'm a mom and a dog owner and I'm worried about your kids & their pups. Do you have worries? I worry a little one will run after Fifi into the road or reach a hand into a dog fight to save Fifi."

                  - Use a different dog outside the fence that will breach it...say when her kids are outside making lots of exciting squeals and fast movements playing with their new puppies.

                  - "We have two safe, humane, reasonable options: long lines or fencing. Which option do you like?"

                  - Ask "how will you contain the dogs when the doorbell rings as your neighbor walks Fido by?"

                  - "You have a great yard; these pups are lucky! Would you like them to use the yard without you standing outside holding muddy long lines and bear mace?" ...for out of control dogs that breach fence

                  Something to give her control and options.
                  Last edited by Bicoastal; Feb. 26, 2013, 04:30 PM. Reason: Question!

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #29
                    Thanks, everyone (and Bicoastal, you rock I am going to jot down some notes from your post...)

                    Those are some excellent suggestions, and having spent 10-15 years in sales in my 20's and 30's (before being "sucked back into the vortex" of horses), I recognize and utilize your points when communicating with clients of all sorts. It comes in handy.

                    You are spot on about the "need for control and autonomy" in this particular case, and the NOVA attitude thing; the woman is very proud of running a tight ship (has a huge house, is house proud and child proud and wants to be "dog proud"; even said "I want ALL my neighbors to point to me and say that MY dogs are the BEST-BEHAVED dogs on the block", that's VERY important to me"! So yeah, this is a challenge, and she is a bit obtuse about the "big picture", with the ego getting into the action and calling the shots a bit here.)

                    Update (for those still following), she called the office yesterday morning and told them she wanted to "hold off" on having me come out. My direct supervisor, he hired me, but we really work together as trainers and brainstorm about clients, situations, curriculum, etc.--texted me and said that she was waffling. I talked to him on the phone at length about how to handle this before I called her and talked to her, and he assured me that it was "unusual" for clients to make very specific demands and to want to have the money back guarantee spelled out and UNDERLINED for them before they signed the contract , but this woman is a very cut and dried type, show me the money (or services, in this case) type. He also said that he would support me, come to sessions with me if/when necessary to observe and help--bring a "distraction dog" with him to do exactly what Bicoastal has suggested WRT boundary training--and assured me that the guy who runs the company would stand behind me as long as I was doing my best to help her , giving her all the information and tools and advice that were pertinent and appropriate to her expectations and goals, and doing MY job well. IOW, it seems as though they will "have my back."

                    When I called her, she seemed *very* glad to hear from me (the rapport-building I had done paid off), and as it turned out, she was simply concerned that the pups (who she has only had for 8 days! ) needed a bit more time to mature and develop some more, and get some basics under their belt before we started to work together. She mentioned that they "got tired easily" (so I said yes, young pups don't have much stamina), and that she was working on the potty training, it was going well, and she was teaching the basics herself: sit (and stay, yikes, so I advised her on the necessity of keeping stays VERY short initially, maintaining attention, ALWAYS having a consistent release word, staying with the puppy and keeping him/her on leash, etc., etc.), and then we talked about what we would work on in the training going forward. She thought 90 minutes was too long (even divided half per dog, since they will be separated while we work with them), and I said "what about 8 sessions of 60 minutes each, 30 minutes per puppy instead?" Great!!, she replied. I assured her that there would be talking, explanation, demo-ing, and brain breaks--so no "drilling of the young puppies with short attention spans"--IOW, no worries. I gave her homework of a very specific nature, told her that I "had faith that she would be able to do it, and that the puppies would be well prepared when I entered the picture", and gave her tips about how to work with her kids (with the dogs), we discussed some other things, but I tried to keep it short and to the point. She admitted that "several things that I had told her at the first session had wound up being on target" (score ), and ALSO (wait for it): that they had taken the puppies out for a walk in the neighborhood where they had "encountered and met/greeted" two other older Springers who lived on the block (weird coincedence, a Twilight Zone block where there are multiple pairs of Springer Spaniels), and that afterwards, they took the pups *into* the back yard from the front yard, through the backyard gate. Subsequently, the male puppy, realizing that his "new friends" were still in the front area of the yard, SQUEEZED UNDER THE FENCE and escaped!

                    How incredibly serendipitous.

                    So now she has decided to put chicken wire around the FRONT edge of the fence, at least. To this, I replied that "since the puppy now knows the boundary is breachable, he will continue to breach it", and reminded her of Jurassic Park. Remember the Raptor Cage? When the electricity was turned off in one section (by accident), the Raptors started "testing" each section in turn to see whether/when they might be able to breach the perimeter. This seemed to get through to her, and I also mentioned that OTHER animals could get in (she said "Huh, yeah, deer jump into our yard all the time"), and that the puppies in the yard might attract OTHER wildlife--stressing that "you certainly want to keep them SAFE, as well as your children, right?" I also mentioned that people need to remember what their dogs were bred to do, which in the case of Springers is "explore and track down and flush out game in the woods", so the outside world (as in outside the fence) would wind up being irresistible--especially as they grew older and more adventurous.

                    We ended on "please e-mail me with any questions you have", and she was in bright spirits when I got off the phone with me, saying "I'll do my homework, and please call me in two weeks so we can set up a time to get started."

                    Yay! And fingers crossed...

                    And FWIW, I DO think it's optimal to bring littermates to class separately, in group classes. It helps with socialization and teaches them to tolerate mild frustration and work in spite of distractions (and focus on "their" handler--whoever that may be--and not on each other.) In the past, I have worked with many families with more than one dog, who brought both to class. It's a challenge, but doable. Meanwhile, one step at a time! Safe puppies and a reality check for the woman who owns them. Priceless
                    "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

                    "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")

                    Comment


                    • #30
                      My Standard Poodle who is 4 years old and has had numerous obedience classes, not to mention we play at agility, took off today after a cat. Jumped through the gate to the paddock (tubular gate) and ran in with the horse. And this lady expects you to teach puppies to stay always? And Springers no less? ROTFLMAO

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        Just read through this thread. Wow, OP, you really seem to have a good handle on all of this. Totally agree about training the puppies separately AND the chicken wire. I had it in another house when I used to raise Labbies, and it just absolutely did the trick. First thing I had done when we bought the place was have a split rail fence put up, and then attach the chicken wire. Couldn't tell it at all from the street. Good luck. What a great job you've done already!
                        But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all. H.C.Anderson

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #32
                          Originally posted by IFG View Post
                          My Standard Poodle who is 4 years old and has had numerous obedience classes, not to mention we play at agility, took off today after a cat. Jumped through the gate to the paddock (tubular gate) and ran in with the horse. And this lady expects you to teach puppies to stay always? And Springers no less? ROTFLMAO


                          Yes, well, I am doing my best to talk some sense into her. During our conversation over the phone, I explained (again!), that teaching and proofing recall--if it can even be done!--takes a long time, and is a PROCESS (and also reminded her that teenaged dogs have selective hearing, much as do teenaged children--and "turn their ears off".) I also assured her that even the *best* trained dogs are never, ever going to be 100% reliable at recall. This is pretty indisputable. If they blow you off just once because they are distracted, that one time can mean the death of them.

                          I had a Springer when I was a girl (10-14), and we had a 1/4 acre backyard, with a 3-3 1/2 foot high back fence. Being a young girl, I taught him "fun things", like how to jump over little fences I set up, and how to play tetherball by jumping up and batting the ball back to me; he loved it. I always thought he respected the fence, but one day one of my parents left an overturned barrel or some other thing (about half the height of the fence) NEXT to the fence, a mere oversight on their part. We let him out in the yard, unsupervised, and the next thing we knew there was a knock on the door by a distraught motorist. Before my father could block my line of sight, I saw his crumpled body in the street in front of our house.

                          I was so heartbroken, I didn't have another dog until I was 45.

                          I DID tell her this when we first met (the Reader's Digest version, without the details because she was cradling her 4 year old daughter at the time, and I didn't want to traumatize the child.)

                          I like to HOPE that this personal story made an impression, but I guess we'll see...
                          "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

                          "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #33
                            Originally posted by CVPeg View Post
                            Just read through this thread. Wow, OP, you really seem to have a good handle on all of this. Totally agree about training the puppies separately AND the chicken wire. I had it in another house when I used to raise Labbies, and it just absolutely did the trick. First thing I had done when we bought the place was have a split rail fence put up, and then attach the chicken wire. Couldn't tell it at all from the street. Good luck. What a great job you've done already!
                            Thanks, CVPeg, so kind of you I always try to do the best and most thorough job I know how to do, and try to be uber responsible and "over prepared" when it comes to animals and children. It keeps me up at night sometimes, when I think I haven't done everything I possibly can, or left a stone unturned.

                            Maybe I'm in the wrong business, and should have been an accountant! Or maybe not, since I SUCK at math AND at numbers, epic fail there. (I prefer working with carbon-based organisms, despite the headache and heartache inherent to the job )
                            "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

                            "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              How about a line of electric fence on the bottom? Teach them to stay away from the fence..
                              the NOT!! Spoiled!! Arabian Protectavest poster pony lives on in my heart

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                Originally posted by Dr. Doolittle View Post
                                You are spot on about the "need for control and autonomy" in this particular case, and the NOVA attitude thing; the woman is very proud of running a tight ship (has a huge house, is house proud and child proud and wants to be "dog proud"; even said "I want ALL my neighbors to point to me and say that MY dogs are the BEST-BEHAVED dogs on the block", that's VERY important to me"!
                                Darn my post just got eaten! This will be a good story, one way or the other so keep us up to date, please. A guess a good thing about that ego is it will motivate her to follow through on every training exercise to achieve her keeping-up-with-the-Joneses goal.

                                I wonder if the neighbors with the pair of Springers is her model/inspiration or The Joneses. This doesn't help you much, I'm just curious.

                                I wish it was a neighbor-dog that breached the fence inward and not puppy outward. Any chance boss's demo dog is a Pit, Dobe, GSD, etc to make bejeweled perfect homemaker gasp?

                                Such great news she started chicken wire. It's a start. Am I interpreting correctly: she is applying it from the ground to the first board? I bet it creeps up as the puppies' age in months creeps up.

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by Bicoastal View Post
                                  Darn my post just got eaten! This will be a good story, one way or the other so keep us up to date, please. A guess a good thing about that ego is it will motivate her to follow through on every training exercise to achieve her keeping-up-with-the-Joneses goal.

                                  I wonder if the neighbors with the pair of Springers is her model/inspiration or The Joneses. This doesn't help you much, I'm just curious.

                                  I wish it was a neighbor-dog that breached the fence inward and not puppy outward. Any chance boss's demo dog is a Pit, Dobe, GSD, etc to make bejeweled perfect homemaker gasp?

                                  Such great news she started chicken wire. It's a start. Am I interpreting correctly: she is applying it from the ground to the first board? I bet it creeps up as the puppies' age in months creeps up.
                                  Oh hey now. Only dog that ever bit me was a spaniel (AWS). My doberman (leashed on a walk) was attacked by a loose springer spaniel. He walked right up to her, calm as could be, and bit her on the muzzle. I yelled at the dog and the dobe just stood there dumbly looking at me like, "did that really just happen?"

                                  I can't imagine having little kids and then getting two littermates. Much less the desire to try this sans fence. I mean WHY make things so complicated? Good luck OP!
                                  DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    Well she's lucky she has a thoughtful, ethical trainer!! I am NOT a dog trainer (although I sometimes play one at home!) but I am very familiar with people have wildly un realistic developmental expectations!!

                                    I would explain to her (she knows this), that we do not let toddlers fix and prepare dinner on the stove unsupervised. will they learn eventually? Probably (not in my family) Tons of examples of how we do not treat toddlers, young kids, adolescents, etc., like adults. She's a mom, I would think she could grasp this!

                                    And in some cases, not a matter of age.Our dog (Bouv) does not go out unsupervised as he has demonstrated he likes to chase bear (NOT a good idea, luckily those he has chased have been small!!). Should he know better? Yes, but he is pretty old and over the years he has demonstrated that he WILL override his recall.. It would be really unrealistic and unfair to him to expect him to NOT run off. And we love him and do not want him to wind up as bear bait. Also a good idea NOT to try having a complex conversation with my husband before he's had coffee. Should he be able to?

                                    Honestly, I would be very conflicted about my loyalty to the dogs on one hand and my ability to work with someone who was not invested in their safety on the other!

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                                    • #38
                                      WEll just read your response OP and you totally sound like you got this! Wow, talk about progress with a difficult client! She heard you AND she likes you! And interesting that she now sees how vulerable her dogs are without the additional fencing! Great job!!!

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                                      • #39
                                        The good news is this shows your boss you can not only deal with difficult dogs, you can deal with difficult clients!

                                        StG

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                                        • Original Poster

                                          #40
                                          Thanks, everyone!

                                          You all make such excellent points (this is the reason I love COTH, lots of knowledge here ), and yes--the woman is kind of clueless about much of what *defines* dog behavior--which is why during my brief exposures to her, I have been trying to be tactful yet DIRECT about why some of her expectations may have to be "adjusted."

                                          I did the whole "comparing kids to puppies" thing during our last conversation, and she seemed to kind of be coming to her senses about this (if not coming totally to this realization--yet; WAIT until they hit "doggie adolescence", Oy!)

                                          The only given?? THEY WILL CHANGE. This is still the "honeymoon period", and she aint seen nothin' yet...I'm hoping that they begin to slowly test her in small subtle ways, because THIS will be something I can help her with.

                                          She is reluctant to "ground" anything (is against the idea of an invisible fence), but with luck, one of her pups will escape from the yard again (and they will get him/her back), and the husband will put his foot down about some kind of containment. Who wants to see heartbroken children??

                                          lilityiger2, yes--that's a good analogy! Kids, puppies, many similarities...

                                          No, the other Springers in the neighborhood were actually a surprise (and a coincedence), go figure! Not sure who she is "competing with", but she is one of those types who "has to be the best", so I am indeed hoping that this tendency will serve her well when it comes to the puppies--and that she will take this seriously and train with consistency, patience, and determination--and be inspired and motivated to do her homework.

                                          BiCoastal, co-workers dogs are Belgian Malinois, well trained (in schuetzen--with which I am personally unfamiliar), but they should serve as "distraction fodder" when and if we go that route. There is NO SUCH THING as 100% solid recall (as I did mention to her), so I can only hope that she sees reason before they get out, get hurt, get lost, etc.

                                          Many thanks (again) for all the great input!
                                          "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

                                          "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")

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