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Discussion Starter #1
So tonight was the first night of intermediate classes. They let Sampson come back for a refresher for free (Pretty cool). Anyway, the last two times in beginner class, Lucy growled and advanced towards three different dogs. So, this time, I told my husband to take Lucy and I would take Sam. Well, as part of the training, they had a stranger come up to meet the dogs. He was a very large muscular built Asian man. The man came up to Sam and tried to put his hand on top of his head. Sam growled...Mind you, Sam has never ever growled or acted aggressive toward anyone before so I was shocked. Then he did it again... A large black man with a bunch of bags approached us and he growled. So the trainer asked Steve to take Sam and go by the man again, so we switched dogs and my husband took Sam. No only did he walk up to the man wagging his tail but he let the man give him a treat...What the Heck am I doing wrong????? I am getting a major complex here....
 
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Is it possible that you are subconsciously judging these people and showing a subconscious hesitation like you are expecting there to be a problem and your dogs are picking up on that?  Do you have any social anxiety, etc?
 

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it may just be the fact that you are mom and both are tyring to protect you from these strange men....not that you personally are doing anything wrong. That is my first thought while reading your post
 

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Don't feel too bad, my DH can take both dogs to the off leash park with no problems...but if I go, both dogs try to eat every other dog and growl at people. It sucks and I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. They can probably tell that I'm worried about them getting into fights.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Theresa - that is exactly how it is at my house. Although I have taken Sam to the park and he was pleasant to the other dogs except a Springer Spaniel came out of the water and attacked him for no reason. Aquagirl,  I am pretty sure I have no social anxieties - I am in Human Resources as my profession and quite used to being the social, people person. To be honest, I have never had this problem with dogs before so I am not sure what has changed other than I feel like there are more aggressive dogs out there today with owners who don't know how to handle them and I am probably overly cautious about socializing my dogs.
 

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My family is the opposite, ekim is great for me but when hubby has him he doesn't listen at all. He knows hubby is a softie.
 

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My hubby's a softie too! Odin listens to me faster than hubby.


Dana... I feel that it's probably you... your setting off the wrong vibes. You say you're probably overly cautious and that's most likely what they are picking up on. You "tensing" up... not to say that I'm perfect... I do it when we're around kids... because Odin acts a little differently. Recently I tried to just be calm and relax and give the kids treats to give to Odin and praise him a bunch... and it worked great. I'm much more relaxed now and so is Odin.

Unfortunately, dogs are great at picking up on you... your emotions... body language... "vibes"... TOO GOOD if you ask me. Just try socializing more... and while doing so... being calm and collected and TRUSTING they won't do anything. Trust me... I think at some point we're all worried that our dogs might hurt somebody... not purposely of course... even just by accident... then you get a big fat lawsuit or worse yet they take your baby and put them down!!! That's what I worry about... esp with kids you know.

Anyway, I'll shut up now... just work on you... and you'll be surprised! :)
 
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I know when I first got Bo...I was worried because I knew he was aggressive when he first met Jetta...I was worried to introduce him to my mom's dogs...when I first did...he and Simba snapped at each other.  Now that I am more comfortable with Bo, I reintroduced him to Simba and now they are good friends.  I was also worried at first about other people...I took him for a walk and got anxious when people were nearbye...He at that point barked and growled at them...now I am more comfortable and he will walk right up to people and "hug" and "kiss" them!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It must be something outside our house because we constantly entertain. We had 10 people (some strangers) over Sunday and they were both fine. My trainer said it would be what they call leash agression. Mastray, I know it definitely has something to do with me, I think I need to get them out more and socialize as you all suggested.
 

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I'm just guessing, but I'd guess that your dogs need to meet more people out in these odd ball places away from home.  I know the first thought is "they do, they do" but perhaps it's not as often as we would like to think it is.  I don't see another reason why they'd behave this way.  I bet if you keep going back to the class the dogs will get that comfort level of meeting people there.
 

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Hmm I dunno, I guess I'm pretty weary of strangers myself so if my dog picked up on that I wouldn't be too surprised.  I try to make sure people who don't know the dog don't just walk up and pet him, he needs to smell them and see my reaction to make sure they aren't a threat.  I kinda like that.  I suppose that's our responsibility as owners of a strong protective breed.  Of course growling could easily lead to biting and no one wants this.  I'm just thinking how much we ask of them...we want them to be weary of strangers, but we want them to be friendly to everybody when we deem it's ok.  It's tough being a dog!

On an unrelated note, what a politically correct training center!  I wonder how the job interviews work there.  "Hmm well we already have an Asian guy...if you were Hawaiian we could let it slip.  Sorry.  But if you have any Latino or Black friends, send them over!"
 

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Sully I think many people do expect too much of their dog in this specific regard.  Especially if they expect the dog to be weary of some strangers, protective around some strangers and friendly around others.  The "AKC Canine Good Citizen certification" has the exact scenario that was described in the first post.  A stranger walks up to talk to the human, shake hands, etc... and the dog must not show any signs of resentment or shyness.  Personally I'm all for teaching the dog to be calm and comfortable around all strangers and I don't expect my dog to be protective at all.  I just think it is asking too much of the dog and the potential for the dog to make a mistake is too great (for the common dog owner, not those who have service dogs, police dogs, etc..).
 

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First off, you don't suck at training...This is just a bit of an obstacle that you have to get past....There are a few reasons why this could be happening...It may sound silly, but any fears, tension that you are feeling go right down that leash and your dog picks up on it..And a lot of times we are not even aware we are doing it...So clear your head, focus on good things, those are the vibes you want your babies to feel.I had to work on that some with Angel as she was frutrating the heck out of me. Takes work, but it can be done....Also it is possible that there is some leash aggresion going on. A lot of dogs feel threatened in strange situations when they are leashed, that's why it's good to take them different places where they are exposed to different siituations..I take mine with me to the store on quick trips, errands, you name it, sometimes I let them out for a quick sniff, but it gives them the opportunity to check different things out on their terms...Lastly, there very well could be a bit of a protective issue going on as well..I trust my babies instincts, Samson especially and there have been a few times when he has solidly put himself between me and a stranger, just something he sensed.....Hope this is some help to you
 

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As other have said I think you are telegraphing your tension to them.  When I went to the intermediate obedience classes, I tensed when we were doing some of the commands that I knew Kiah didn't do as well on.  When the trainer took her, she always did everything perfectly.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks all - I have been stressing over this since last night and even shed a few tears. It is frustrating to think that I can run a whole department at work but can't train a dog...very frustrating!! After speaking with several people, I know that I need to get them out more and socialize them. That is the most common denominator between my past animals and these two. I did take the others everywhere with me. I just need to be more diligent about getting them out and about.
 

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In reading, it seems to me as if your boy is uncomfortable in the situation. The very first, glaring thing that I would change is the approach. MANY dogs have issues with being approached in the manner that you described above. Another commonality is that these are large men as well.

What I would do is to have the same men approach differently to see if you can work him through this. Hand over the head can be very threatening to some dogs, which is why we always tell people to approach strange dogs with the hand under the chin instead of hand over the head. Approaching with the hand under the chin is much less intimidating in the dog's view than is the hand over the head.

Eventually, I would try to work him up to being able to be approached with the hand over the head, but for now, you need to work with what is within Sampson's comfort level - ie: baby steps.

FWIW, I have a girl who absolutely is uncomfortable with individuals in scrubs or white coats bending over her. . . which is no surprise to me as it is a very domineering posture. This dog is VERY stable tempered, in fact, she's one of the most stable tempered boxers I've ever seen. She's never growled, she's never snapped, but I can tell from body language that she's just generally uncomfortable. This especially becomes an issue at the vet, so we just have to work within her comfort level and approach at the side, versus over top of her.

Hope this helps!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks Jessica. When my husband and I switched dogs and he took Sampson over to the same man, Sampson took treats from him, was wagging his tail, and even licked his hand - that is why I think it is me...
 

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It's possible that he's less secure that you're in control of the situation, or that he feels that he needs to protect you, or that he's picking up on your anxiety, but I still feel that you may see a different dog by making the bigger men subordinate to him (by having them approach under the chin vs. over the head) and showing him that big doesn't necessarily = threat. :)

You may also want to consider having them approach turned to the side and kneeling down on his level, not looking him in the eye a couple of times depending on exactly how uncomfortable you feel that he is in the situation.

Hopefully this makes sense!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
BurningRiver\";p=\"59760 said:
It's possible that he's less secure that you're in control of the situation, or that he feels that he needs to protect you, or that he's picking up on your anxiety, but I still feel that you may see a different dog by making the bigger men subordinate to him (by having them approach under the chin vs. over the head) and showing him that big doesn't necessarily = threat. :)

You may also want to consider having them approach turned to the side and kneeling down on his level, not looking him in the eye a couple of times depending on exactly how uncomfortable you feel that he is in the situation.

Hopefully this makes sense!
Excellent idea! Thanks again, Jessica.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Re: It's official...I suck at training - UPDATE

Ok, maybe I don't suck too bad. Both dogs did beautifully last night. Lucy was still somewhat distracted and hyper but hey that's a boxer puppy, isn't it? She still did all her commands though and Sampson was perfect. He did a down-stay at the front of the store (Petsmart) and my hubby walked around the corner out of his sight, people coming in and out with and without animals and he didn't budge...that's my boy!! Lucy, well, she isn't quite that advanced yet but she is learning...Yippee, progress, I love it!
 
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