So that all sounds pretty standard, Trainer Lady, why would he be so tired?
Well, he is tired because we spent the afternoon working on desensitizing him to strange dogs. We did this yesterday, we did it today, and we are doing it tomorrow. All with different dogs that he never gets to sniff, meet, or play with. Today it was a lovely female Husky named Yuki. She is one of my star pupils and helps out occasionally. We started with simply asking him to sit near her without screaming, barking, or lunging. We used his electronic collar to give him corrections and soft praise to show approval. When we got to the point that he could hold a Sit with me at the end of the leash (ergo not holding him back) and not scream we moved on to having him hold still while the other dog was moving around him. This made him explode again and we had to start all over. Then we made Rihm do his obedience while she held a Down and he was not allowed to bark at her. At one point he became so frustrated that he started barking at me and even jumped up to try to take the leash out of my hand. He got a sharp correction for this and we were then able to move on. We took a walk next to Yuki and he was fairly quiet. Whimpering and chirping but not outright barking.
We gave him a break for about an hour after that and then did it again. This time we changed tactics and put him in a stress-relieving Thunder Shirt and used a pinch collar. He was MUCH quieter with this approach -but- he tried nip the hand that held the leash twice (this is more common with leash corrections because with a remote they don't associate it with the handler's hands). This is NOT considered aggression. He was acting out of pure frustration. I kept telling him, with my voice and the leash, that it was not acceptable to bark and lunge at Yuki. He did not like being told not to do that and so, out of frustration towards my corrections, tried to make them stop. He was not trying to harm me but was trying to regain control of the situation. The reason we (trainers) prefer to have people come to professionals for things like this is that we have better timing, better form in correcting, and we are able to remain unemotional when the dog is stressed or upset. I was able to ensure that he never actually made contact with me and I was able to clearly communicate that that was 100% not acceptable. After that little spat he seemed to understand that he needed to strange strategy and became appeasing and focused on me instead of on Yuki. Tomorrow we repeat the process with a different dog.
I am curious if this is not barrier frustration. When he met my two dogs he was not on a leash (which is a barrier in a dog's mind) and he has been extremely polite and submissive to them (and Ted is a growly, grumpy dog). Because the next dog we are going to do this with is the best trained of my volunteers we are going to -try- transitioning him to the remote trainer without a physical leash. We will not be putting the helper dog in danger and if it ever seems like he might be the exercise will halt immediately and we will put leashes back on.
His owners will need to continue desensitizing him to other dogs and I will help them in this but he has already shown imp in just 3 days of giving very clear signals about what is acceptable and what is not. Tomorrow I am giving him an easy morning on his place mat and then more hard work in the afternoon.