Please help, bit during obedience class!

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Mother Moose
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Please help, bit during obedience class!

Postby Mother Moose » Wed Jun 17, 2015 10:43 am

Hi All,

Moose and I are new to joining the forum. But I have been following for the past 6 months, prior to getting Moose.
I just want to say THANK YOU to ALL of you who have posted questions as well as answer in this forum!!! You might not be aware of how much you are helping others such as myself. I have spent countless hours reading on this forum before and after getting Moose. I have found all your experiences and insight so incredibly helpful in raising Mooseypooh so far!

I will give you a bit of context before talking about what happened last night during obedience class. Moose is 4 months old and truly the love of our lives. We got him when he was 7 weeks old. From reading this forum, countless dog training books and chow specific sites, I knew that I wanted to work hard at getting Moose to be a happy, healthy and well socialized puppy. Since the day we picked him up we noticed he was on the shy side when meeting new people, so I knew I had even more work cut out. We have worked so hard at socializing him. We take him everywhere with us. We have people over all the time to meet him and we take him to social gatherings at friends houses. We take him for walks frequently and to the park so he can see lots of other people and dogs. Initially, we would ask everyone who was willing to give him a liver treat, but now he will sniff without being offered liver. He still won't allow strangers to pet him on the head, he will just offer a sniff to their hands or feet. Initially, I was very worried about this, but from reading this forum, I see a lot of other chowdren also don't like being pet on the head. I'm wondering if I should continue to work on this petting business or just accept that he may never like it?

Anyhoo, Moose has been a little darling and angel up until last night. He lets me wipe his paws and special parts after every walk. I brush his teeth and fur with no issues. I wipe his eyes in the morning and night to clean any puppy eye sleep that collects. I clip his nails. I bathe him. I make him wait before eating. I practice taking away his toys and bones and then giving them back. None of these have caused any issues or signs of aggression. He has not had any accidents since 11 weeks of age. He goes into the crate and/or kitchen to sleep with no fuss. He knows a ton of commands and tricks. So all this being said, I am super devastated and surprised about being bit last night in class.

Yesterday morning we went out for a walk. We have an automatic door to get back into the building that opens outwards. I always push the button to let Moose back into the apartment. Yesterday there was a big garbage truck dumping the recycling bins outside the building and Moose was nervous. He usually sits and waits for the door to open, but before it was fully open he started running for it and the door hit him. He yelped but then acted fine. When I went to wipe his paws like usual, I noticed one was bleeding a bit and I freaked out. I quickly got the quik stop and applied it to the nail that I though it was coming from. After I watched him for a while and he looked fine and was behaving/walking like normal. We both went about our days as per usual. Then last night he went to his 5th puppy obedience class. Things always go well during class and he generally likes it. Last night we were asked to do a new exercise. It involved sitting on the floor next to the dog and using one hand on the dogs collar while the back hand scoops gently under the dogs back hocks to get them into a sit. From there you switch the hand holding the collar, and use your other hand to go under the dogs belly and swoop gently under the front legs to get them into a down. The instructor said you do not give any verbal commands to this and the exercise is meant for when the dog goes into the adolescent stage and doesn't listen to commands. While she was demonstrating this exercise with a puppy, I turned to my neighbour and her Westie and said "I don't thinks Moose is going to like this exercise." I wish I trusted my instincts. While he has no issues with being handled thus far, I didn't like the idea of being physical with him even though it was gentle.

All of us were practicing on the floor with our dogs. The two dogs next to me (Havanese and Westie) were not having it. They were freaking out and biting their owners. Moose however, gave me a gentle mouthing the first time I tried the exercise, to which I said "No" in a quiet but stern voice. We continued doing the exercise a few more times and he stopped mouthing and tolerated it fine. Then the havanese next to us went nuts and the teacher came and pinned the dog down and yelled loudly "No". I decided to move Moose a bit away to give them space and we did the exercise two more times. The second time, while getting him into the lying position he just turned his head and bit me on the lip. It happened so quickly, I didn't see it coming or any signs that he was upset. It hurt so I quickly put my hand to my mouth and noticed it was wet and I was bleeding. I gave the leash to another instructor and quickly got up to wash the wound and put pressure on it. Supposedly after I left Moose "He freaked out" according to the teacher. When I came back into the room there was urine every where and this is strange as he has not urinated indoors for a few weeks now. We quickly left the class so I could get the wound flushed out and looked out. I just got surgical tape since it is on my face and I didn't want to risk infection. I think Moose was stirred up too as he was very quiet in the car and when we first got home. I wonder if I possibly hurt his paw on the last exercise without knowing it or if this is an exercise that I should have just avoided with him. Or if he was upset by the other dogs or the teacher yelling "No" loudly. Or maybe all of the above? I felt horrible like I let my little guy down. The worst part is the instructor announced in front of the whole class "That's HIS breed" as we were leaving. I felt like she shamed him, when it isn't his fault! I wish I trusted my gut instincts that this might not be a good exercise for him.

Any insight into what I could have done better or in the future would be greatly appreciated. Please don't be afraid to be blunt. I'd rather get a harsh rebuke from you then let my Moose down again. I'm very scared now that this will happen again to me or even worse someone else. The part that scares me most is that it seemed to come on with no warning. I've decided to enrol him in another doggy class as this one is likely more physical than what I am interested in. I have also contacted a private dog behaviourist to see if we can work on getting Moose out of his shell more.

Thanks in advance for reading my long post! I look forward to hearing from you.

Rory's Dad
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Re: Please help, bit during obedience class!

Postby Rory's Dad » Wed Jun 17, 2015 5:57 pm

1st off, it sounds like you are doing a great job with him. The socialization and training are absolutely on the right path towards having a responsible member of the Chow community. If you doubt that, check out the requirements on the AKC Canine Good Citizen site. All the behaviors you are working on are on the list.

Thanks for checking out the posts and advice given here, we truly are interested in Chow welfare and helping you to have the best pet possible (and no, I am not a paid spokesperson).

So, onto your current situation. It definitely sounds like a reaction. If there was no warning (yip, bark, growl), then he was reacting to something much more immediate that the handling of the other dog. It could very well be that his injured paw was touched and he reacted to pain. It could also have been the form of getting him to sit/lay. I currently have 3 Chows, 2 males and 1 female. My dogs are frequently entered into AKC shows and undergo inspection (yes, the private bits) by complete strangers. It takes a while to train them that this is acceptable. A 4 month old dog may have found this quite objectionable if not properly adjusted to the invasion of his personal space. In a similar situation, my female (who is the sweetest temperament) mouthed a groomer quite hard a year back. She was in heat and in the bath when the groomer hoisted her out of the water from below her waist.

I personally do not find forcing a dog into any situation acceptable unless it is a safety issue. Seeing the 'trainer' pinning another dog would put me on edge. If you have a similar response, I would bet that Moose felt you were upset and given all the other distractions he experienced earlier set him into an uncomfortable zone. BTW, that exercise is wasted on chows. They will sit and lay when they want if the mood strikes them. They are all about selective listening and will pretend not to hear you more often than not. I would strongly recommend finding a reward food that he LOVES above all else. That is going to be your communication device, not force sitting the dog.

Also, don't read too much into his behavior after you handed off his lead. That was a completely new experience for him. Nerves get going and his confidence shrinks. Particularly if he isn't comfortable with the trainer. Sounds like the trainer isn't very familiar with chows either if that was his response. I wouldn't place a ton of confidence in a trainer that makes an assessment based completely on breed and has known YOUR dog for a grand total of 5 half hour or so sessions.

On the down side, no biting can be excused. Nothing you can do about the episode now, but he needs to learn that his teeth need to be inside his jowels.

So, really, no harsh rebukes here. You are doing all the right things. And i am usually pretty harsh on incompetent trainers, but in this case the evidence is circumstantial. He may have contributed, but really is not directly responsible for Moose's lash out. I would keep and eye on his training method though.

Mother Moose
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Re: Please help, bit during obedience class!

Postby Mother Moose » Thu Jun 18, 2015 6:18 am

I cannot say thank you enough for taking the time to reply!!! I have read many of your post over the past 6 months and have found them to be very insightful and helpful.
I have been so upset over this and your response provided a lot of needed reassurance!

I will no longer be doing that exercise with Moose and we will definitely be attending another obedience school.

I will continue to work hard with Moose to make him the best representation of the breed that he can be. And as a first time chow owner, I will continue to do my readings!

Cheers and chow for now!


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