Let’s start with a little quiz!
- Do you try to walk your dog at times when you won’t see other dogs/people/etc.?
- Do you have to put your dog away when company comes to your home because you don’t trust his behavior?
- Has your dog made you cry with frustration/fear/anger/shame?
- Do you wonder how in the world you ended up with a dog like this?
- Do you often find yourself at the receiving end of advice regarding your dog’s behavior… and all of the advice is useless?
More and more often, dogs are landing in our homes with issues and aggression. Whether is growling, biting, barking or fearful behavior – it’s definitely not what most of us were used to growing up! Long gone are the If you answered YES to any of these questions then chances are you are living with a reactive dog. Many of today’s dogs require a significant time commitment and skillful training.
The good news is that reactive dogs tend to be eager to please, sensitive, loving, devoted and intuitive. They often are the dogs of a lifetime, despite the sighs of frustration and tears along the way. Maybe it’s the hard work we put into them, maybe it’s that they are unique and special in a way we’re not used to – but whatever it is, it is important to know how to go about training and working with them!
The History of Reactive Dog Class
A lifetime ago I adopted a puppy that was incredibly fearful. After a fearful puppyhood he was launched into a medically turbulent adolescence where, after four months, he was finally diagnosed as needing surgery. He did not view people fondly, seeing them instead as synonyms for pain. He quickly moved from fearful behavior to aggression and has taken me on the ride of a lifetime!
When I searched for people to guide me with his rehabilitation, I found no one close to me in the Valley. I traveled to New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, eastern Massachusetts and other places to work with the finest behaviorists on modifying aggression. The hardest part, in many ways, was not having people to practice with when I would come home. It’s hard to make progress when you can’t find the people or dogs to practice with!!
Despite being a trainer, having trainers as colleagues and friends, and knowing lots of people in the business, it was still very frustrating to find practice places and people. To address this frustration, I started a class for Reactive Dogs. The first year I ran it out of an old parking lot in Holyoke, MA. I was thrilled to be able to conduct the class but the space was not ideal and when the season became too harsh to work outside, I ended the class.
I was thrilled to find a new, better location for class the following spring – the Three County Fairgrounds in Northampton! The class was held at this venue until I relocated to Houston in the winter of 2007. When I returned, I started up classes in Amherst and Chicopee and have been running them ever since!
I am so committed to helping owners of reactive and aggressive dogs. Having lived through it (and, yes, I still have that fearful puppy who is now a fabulous adult dog – and we’re still making progress with his behavior) gives me the compassion and understanding for running a great class. Being an experienced behaviorist gives me the skills to teach you how to successfully modify your dog’s behavior. It’s not an easy road but it’s so worthwhile when you see the changes and the progress. It’s also great to be with people who understand what you live through every day.
Reactive Dog class is an excellent resource for modifying dog behavior, improving your handling skills, meeting other people in the same boat, and improving your relationship with your dog.
How It Works…
There are a few options for folks. People start with an in-home behavior consultation and then move into classes after establishing a good foundation at home. The advantage to this is that your plan is customized, goes at your pace, and you’ve had the opportunity to practice skills in a low distraction setting.
Reactive Dog Class is held Friday evenings at Exercise Finished Dog Training Center and Wednesday mornings outside in Amherst, MA (on Stanley Street on Kiwanis Field or sometimes at the Fort River School Annex). People register at the beginning of the month and pay for the number of sessions being held that month. Each class is $35. Generally there are four sessions in a month so the tuition is $140.
Classes are limited to 4-7 handler/dog teams. Each session consists of group work where we all work together as a class on different skills and individual sessions where we work on specific triggers for each dog. In the beginning, we spend several weeks establishing core behaviors and foundation behaviors.
For general information, email Elise!
Sorry, class registration is closed for the month. Please check back next month or email Elise for more info.
Newbies who have done a consultation will get 1/2 off!